It starts off well enough and raises hopes of a fun ride. Bewakoofiyaan does not goof up. It delivers.
Opening scene: we catch a young Delhi NCR executive at the wheel of an old hatchback. He is learning how to drive.
The four-wheeler croaks and groans before it revs up. Is that a sign of things to come?
On the face of it, the guy’s life seems all sorted out. He has a cushy airline job and a steady girlfriend. A promotion and a new vehicle are also on the way. Can the wedding bells be far away?
And then, it all begins to unravel for the ambitious MBA. The hero’s fortunes slump like a parachute in freefall.
But no worries, the film holds its ground and, for the most part, lives up to its early promise.
Its elegant packaging and buoyant spirit do not undermine its essentially realistic moorings.
Bewakoofiyaan is a genteel, slice-of-life love story that runs with one of the oldest of the standard devices of the genre – strong parental opposition to a proposed marital liaison, with money, or rather the lack of it, playing a big part.
But the film does not turn either overly nonsensical or sickly sweet in an ill-advised pursuit of comic effect and cutesy twists. The drama is easy flowing and the romantic track believable.
In Bewakoofiyaan, when recession strikes and begins to kill off badly managed companies, matters of the heart are the first casualties.
The heroine, a successful career woman, buys movie tickets for a bunch of friends. Her boyfriend, the out-of-work hero, opts out of the outing for he is held up at a job interview. Life is cruel.
The girl spends money on a rock concert. The boy, desperately in debt, ticks her off and tension begins to build up between the two. Life is messy.
However, instead of painting a pessimistic portrait of the times, the cheerful Bewakoofiyaan seeks to offer an alternative way of looking at the economic meltdown.
The philosophy it trots out is valid for all times: lie low and let the storm pass, but don’t let go of things that truly matter.
The lovebirds – Mohit Chaddha (Ayushmann Khurrana) and Mayera Sehgal (Sonam Kapoor) – seem to be a well-adjusted couple until two powerful external forces that are beyond their control – the old-school ideas of the girl’s just-retired civil servant-dad and the vagaries of an unstable job market – intervene.
Mohit is laid off and his relationship with Mayera is seriously threatened because the latter’s dad, Vinod Kumar Sehgal (Rishi Kapoor), is in no mood to let a man without a stable income become his son-in-law.
But the old man gives Mohit a chance to prove himself and puts him to the test. The jobless marketing executive has no choice but to play along.
He becomes Mr. Sehgal’s sparring partner on the squash court, introduces him to computer games, and eggs him on to apply for post-retirement employment.
But that is only half the battle won. Material needs warp emotional pulls and pressures and the three pivotal characters are torn in different directions.
What sets Bewakoofiyaan just a little apart from run-of-the-mill romantic comedies is its charming heroine.
Strong, confident and sensitive, Mayera holds all the aces in the drama.
The two men in her life are the ones that are assailed by doubts and negative thoughts. But Mayera, the brand-conscious fashionista who isn’t the least bit apologetic about living it up, never lets her spirits sag.
Rom-com heroines tend to be a bundle of contradictions. But Mayera has all her priorities right and sticks to her guns when push comes to shove.
Sonam Kapoor gives the character added depth by delivering a restrained and earnest interpretation of a modern girl who places love ahead of money, but nothing over her own inner urges.
Though both Rishi Kapoor and Ayushmann Khurrana play their parts to perfection, it is Sonam Kapoor who scripts the film’s brighter spots.
The film’s fizzy moments are followed occasionally by somewhat bland stretches that drag a touch in terms of narrative pace, besides straining credulity.
But director Nupur Asthana keeps the film short and sweet, and Habib Faisal’s screenplay is smart enough not to try and dribble into the terrain of by-the-numbers comedy.
Bewakoofiyaan scores with its disarming simplicity. Even as it doesn’t soar to dizzying heights, it is never less than watchable.