Rating: 3/5 Stars (Three stars)
Star Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Ratna Pathak, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Fawad Khan, Kirron Kher, Aamir Raza Hussain
Director: Shashank Ghosh
What’s Good: The fuzziness of fairytales and Fawad Khan who plays the blue blooded, emotionally cut-off prince with a regal touch.
What’s Bad: The high pitched, saccharine struck Sonam Kapoor. The plot wasn’t meticulously characterized and blindly followed the fairy tale pattern of Disney Films.
Loo break: Not too many.
Watch or Not?: Shashank Ghosh’s Khoobsurat is strictly for rom-com lovers. For those who stumble on it with too many expectations will be massively disappointed. Framed as a feel good love story, the best part about the film is that it keeps you engaged in its dull parts as well. While Sonam’s cutesy act gets on your nerves at places, Fawad Khan saves the film with his brooding looks and top notch performance. The heartless, emotionally unavailable prince wins hearts with his charm. Though the happily ever after ending seemed hurried, Fawad Khan makes it all so much better and tolerable.
Dr Mili Chakraborty (Sonam Kapoor) is a high profile physiotherapist who works for IPL and fixes broken down cricketers. She is entrusted with the case of Maharaja Shekhar Rathore, who after an accident has lost his ability to walk. Mili is met with a grouchy patient, a snooty queen (his bossy wife) and the ruthless prince who becomes the object of attraction for her. Mili realizes that there is nothing much wrong with him physically but he has lost his zeal for life. Can she make the king walk again? And what brews between her and Vikram is what Khoobsurat has in store for its audiences.
Khoobsurat Review: Script Analysis
I won’t call it a paper thin script but for sure this is a film that borrows judiciously from Princess Diaries and many similar sources. A ruthless prince falls for a misfit is an idea that Princess Diaries spent too long elaborating. But this time the girl is a commoner and the guy is a handsomely dressed, straight out of the pages of Elle Men. He is drop dead gorgeous, chivalrous and calculative. She is emotional, impulsive, clumsy and everything that comes under the umbrella of being a misfit. So, as expected opposites attract. But, is it as much fun to watch? Well, partly so.
The chemistry between the duo was sparkling at places. But the high pitched, shrieking Mili, is a character that borders on being overboard. I do buy that she has the least of table manners, keeps calling her mother’s name in the highest of decibels and also that she addresses her mother on a first name basis. But who in her first dinner with a royal family would ask young princess if she has had a boyfriend? At such points the film seems overstretched and far from reality. Ofcourse, my expectation is on the wrong plane if I am asking for reality in a self proclaimed Disney fairytale but logic in cinema is a basic pre-requisite.
I was particularly disheartened that Ghosh did not use Nirmala Devi’s character too well. It was Ratna Pathak who kept the sketchily etched character alive in a script that doesn’t do justice to it. In the Hrishikesh Mukherjee original, the role played by Shah’s mother Dina Pathak was memorable and meaty. But Ratna Pathak simply had to play off her caliber to keep the matriarch’s menace alive through the film.
I also thought the chemistry did not quite click. The contrived, hurried ending with Nirmala Devi’s sudden and stark change of heart was very obviously out of place but the prince falling for the misfit works more because of the performance than because of the story. Their first kiss was a shocker and abrupt with nothing building towards it. But to its credit, the writing has been kept energetic, not allowing the tempo of the film to drop. It wasn’t fresh writing but consistent writing!
Khoobsurat Review: Star Performances
Sonam Kapoor is better than most of her performances so far but she can never sink herself completely into her character. Hence, from time to time she slips back into her Fashionista mode and you can almost hear her mutter ‘you know what I mean’. It’s her beautiful smile and the carefree innocence that she gets into her character that makes Mili so believable otherwise she could have passed on for Aisha all over again.
Sonam might be wobbling on dicey grounds but it is Fawad Khan who at every level holds together this fairytale styled rom-com. He is the Quintessential prince charming. Insensitive, ruthless, yet sexy and charming, Fawad is straight out of some Mills and Boons book. He is pitch perfect and delivers a delicious performance.
Ratna Pathak Shah is more Maya Sarabhai than Nirmala Devi Rathore. She has the same perennial L.S issues with Mili and can there be any dubiousness in how brilliant she is in that role or anything remotely close to the premise of it.
Kirron Kher as Manju lands straight from the sets of Dostana. But that is the thing with senior actors. They know exactly how to maintain variety despite being given similar characters.
Khoobsurat Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
Shashank Ghosh gives the Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic a justified modern twist. I don’t think it was too offensive or shabby in its own way. But yes, it is far less impactful than the 80s’ classic. Though frankly, I would give Ghosh credit to maintain the theme with adequate changes to the story. The Disney film angle set on the theme of the Rekhaji starrer was very neatly done. Ghosh walks away with most accolades for telling an engaging story. Despite dull moments, the film holds your attention well without wearing you out with exhaustion. I particularly liked the use of voiceover bubbles to convey the rantings inside the mind of his characters. It was done intelligently without disturbing the narrative rather adding value to the way the story shapes up. So she calls him Khadoos and he calls her Aafat. A good chunk of their love story is conveyed via mental rambling voiceovers. In a scene after they kiss and Vikram comes to talk to Mili about it, the scene conveys without many verbal words using the same mode.
The film’s editing needed to be sharper. And though the songs are too many in this movie, they are all well integrated in the film. I have found a brilliant number in Preet that is unforgettable for its intrinsic haunting quality.
Khoobsurat Review: The Last Word
Khoobsurat isn’t for people who don’t have the appetite for romantic comedies or who aren’t fairytale believers. They will go with incorrect expectations and come back disappointed on grounds of it being unrealistic primarily. I did not mind the lack of novelty because it was afterall a well executed film. Fawad Khan as Prince Charming is the show stealer here and he makes his chemistry with Sonam look fantastic! Bubbling with energy, breezy and beautiful, this film is a good enough, passably enjoyable one time watch. I am going with a 3/5.
Khoobsurat releases on 19th September, 2014.
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