Cast:Farah Khan, Boman Irani, Shammi, Kurush Deboo, Daisy Irani
Bela Bhansali Sehgal
Sanjay Leela Bhansali/Sunil A Lulla
It’s 36B and it isn’t a bus route. It’s a 40-year-old lady’s bust line. And it plays a sizeable role in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi.
But, then, this is no Dirty Picture, not by a long chalk. The film’s connection with feminine curves and their varied dimensions stems from the fact that its chaste-at-heart male protagonist is a 45-year-old lingerie salesman who is still in search of the perfect woman.
The guy has spent half his life serving women of all body types without quite being able to get his arms around the shape that is best for him.
The concept is fresh, the casting inspired, the narrative tone and tenor unconventional, and the film has more mirth than girth. So, is Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi as enjoyable as it sounds? It is, if you discount its rare and mercifully brief flaccid stretches.
On the whole, Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi is a bright and suave take on two people who are in danger of seeing the little joys of life pass them by for good. They discover each other, thanks to a random quirk of fate that places the hero’s doting mom at odds with the feisty woman he falls for.
The quirky screenplay by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the deft directorial touches by debutante Bela Bhansali Sehgal lend a fizz to the brew that is accentuated appreciably by the natural flair of the two lead actors.
Of course, Sehgal (known hitherto as the editor of brother SLB’s films) is not the only first-timer here. Farah Khan, ace choreographer-turned-director, gives acting a shot in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi and strikes up an easy and effortless rhythm.
The Parsi hero, Farhad Pastakia (Boman Irani), is still single because his only but frequent brushes with women occur when they walk into his undergarments showroom to buy bras and panties.
He lives with his mother (Daisy Irani) and grandma (Shammi), who fret and fume over the dwindling size of their community. They have all but abandoned any hope of Farhad finding a soulmate in this lifetime.
Farhad’s superficial understanding of the fairer sex is put to severe test when he runs into Shirin, a no-nonsense Parsi spinster who knows her mind inside out.
Needless to say, the advent of a strong woman in his life begins to change Farhad in ways he can barely comprehend. He is on his best behavior whenever he meets Shirin, but he seeks to compensate for his lack of genuine romantic guile with a misplaced show of overt conviviality.
But his ingrained earnestness and the artless attempts to score brownie points with the lady lands him in more trouble than he can comfortably handle.
How the man negotiates his way through the complex maze of late-blooming love is what Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi is all about. The plot is rather thin, but the film, which generally stays on track, exudes a sustained air of freshness.
Sure, not all the comic exchanges between the unlikely romantic pair crackle with the requisite level of energy. Some of the gags, especially the ones that border on the slapstick, do not quite come off and fail to match the otherwise sustained feel-good fuzz of the storyline.
But the screenplay of Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi has enough tongue-in-cheek wit and whimsy to pull the film back from the brink when it slides close to the edge of monotony.
Director Sehgal scores most heavily on the novelty quotient. In a movie industry that is overly fixated on six-pack flashing hunks and size-zero flaunting waifs barely out of their teens, a generally smart film that celebrates the first rumblings of mature love is as pronounced a departure from norm as any that Bollywood has ever attempted in recent times.
Boman Irani and Farah Khan fill the screen with their presence, and not merely in the physical sense. The duo proves that the craft of acting is at its best when it cannot be seen. But watch out for Daisy Irani. A born screen performer, she is a scene stealer.
Though certainly not a laugh riot that will have you rolling in the aisles, this modern-day urban twist to the Shirin-Farhad love story is underlined by genteel mirth. It also takes on a poignant tinge at times.
Verdict: Though a bit on the sluggish side, Shirin Farhad Ki To Nikal Padi is warm-hearted and generally watchable without being exhilarating.