Dum Laga Ke Haisha is so sweet that you might get diabetes from it. It is one of those rare Bollywood films which remain close to its roots and even though it never tries to get bigger than its basic premise and setting, it touches your heart in way that none of those big budgeted yet shallow shebangs could never think of. This is the tale of a time when audio cassettes were still the way of life for the Indians. A time when Kumar Sanu gave voice to characters played by a varied range of Bollywood actors ranging from Amir, Salman, Shahrukh to even the lesser known. It is the story of a guy who makes cassettes from the originals for a living. A Guy who can be made to cry by just three things in the world, His father’s slippers which extracts an expression of pain, the English language which he could never decipher and Kumar Sanu’s melodies.
This guy is none other than Prem (Ayushmann Khurrana). His father forces him to marry an obese Sandhya (Bhumi Pednekar) a girl who takes the world and the people in it for what they are. His father’s belief is that Prem’s bride would bring in the much needed financial stability to the household which their cassette store can never bring. However Prem finds the match unacceptable and his hatred for Sandhya’s obesity gets out in more ways than one. The matter becomes worse and the couple files for divorce. The court orders the couple to stay with each other for 6 months after which they could part ways. We all know the story and we know what would happen next. You just have the “race” as an add on. The rest of the “Hindi Fillum” logic remains intact.
Then what is it that makes this film such a sellout. Well, it is the little sequences and the screenplay which will keep tickling your funny bone in more ways than one. The comedy is subtle and extracts the laughs because of the reason that we are able to connect with the situations. Take for instance the scene where the family is waiting for the groom to consummate with his bride. Once they hear the bed rattling, there is an expression of satisfaction and peace which is complimented by one of the parent’s wish to communicate the good news to some other relative. This scene is hilarious for a variety of reasons.
The manner in which the groom tries to stay away from the bride and especially keep her away from his friend circles is both hilarious and heart breaking to watch. The film shifts gear soon enough with the matter landing up in court where there is more comedy waiting. The parents are the primary source of giggles with their histrionics and comic timing. The film can be summed up as a collection of many such moments from our life which we are all too familiar with. We forget to enjoy them in the rush of our existence but this film successfully recreates that environment for us to be a part of it and enjoy it sitting comfortably in our seats and enjoying a bowl of popcorn.
The film boasts of some sensational cinematography. The narrative creates a minimalistic world of the 90s around it and wraps it up with limited world of the characters which the cinematography successfully captures and wonderfully presents in all its glory. There isn’t a single shot which looks out of place or which is not reminiscent of the time and period of which the film is a part of. Be it the common marriage, the “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” race, the dimly lit interiors of Prem’s house or the spatial expanses of the Library, the camera speaks to you as the storyteller and unveils the story in all its color and beauty. The art department also has a bulk to do in this achievement and to leave them out of the praise list will be blasphemous. The music which is again very 90s like is another huge plus. The song “yeh Jo moh moh ke Dhaage” which shows the couple spending some tender moments together is a revelation. While Sandhya is in awe of her husband, the dude is just trying to get along with the moment. The song ends abruptly just in a manner you wake abruptly from a dream and it happens because Prem shrugs away his wife’s hand as she tries to get closer to him. This signifies Sandhya’s return to the reality from a dreamy world wherein she was enjoying the affection and presence of her husband. These minor details and moments contribute into making the film what it is.
The performances by the ensemble cast is great. Ayushmann Khurrana as the disillusioned husband of a fat wife who is forced into the marriage is sensational and believable. He constantly feels believable and yet dramatic. That isn’t something you see every day. Towards the end when he starts changing for good, the transformation is not hurried and he is in complete sync with what he is supposed to exude. Bhumi Pednekar is terrific. She goes a few steps better than Ayushmann by being able to give out a sense of helplessness at not being able to be the bride that his husband wants and yet knowing that she is in every way better than him. Her interactions with her in laws is a treat to watch. The rest of the cast do their part to perfection.
Overall, Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a must watch for its setting, story, situations, cinematography, art work, performances and music. This is the kind of film which will leave a real good taste in the mouth for a very long time.