Ek Tha Tiger may have crushed Shirin Farhad Ki Tou Nikal Padi at the box office but then that would be comparing apples and oranges. An out and out commercial rom-com, Shirin Farhad has a distinctly Parsi flavour and 40 plus leads! This is no intense Being Cyrus or Pestonjee - this is the Parsi community wrapped in Bollywood bubblegum and it's enjoyable to the hilt.
Farhad Pastakia, played by the brilliantly versatile Boman Irani, lives at home ( read, a small apartment) with mummy, grand mummy and crazy uncle. He works at a ladies undergarment store called Tem Tem; his dream is to buy it out and call it Underworld. Shirin Fuggawala is a strong, educated, self made working woman, well into her 40s employed at a high level at the Parsi Trust of India supporting herself and her ailing father. They are both aware that they are getting on in the years and suitable Parsis are running out fast. A hysterical Daisy Irani who plays Boman's mom points this out to him everyday. As destiny would have it, Shirin Farhad meet, sparks fly and all would be well were it not for hurdles that have to be crossed to prove that a couple is meant to be.
Sounds pretty typical, doesn't it? Well Shirin Farhad Ki Tou Nikal Padi is very much a formula romance in terms of plot. What makes it unique is the rich tapestry of characters it weaves - all Parsi, eccentric individuals tied together by that deep sense of community that is their hallmark. Boman Irani excels as Farhad, getting the Gujrati accent spot on, Daisy Irani is a revelation as his mom, Nargis Pastakia, the ultimate Parsi matriarch, Kurush Deboo as his senile uncle Feroze elicits laughs whenever he comes on screen; he's totally mad and stuck in a time warp where he believes he is the ‘Feroze’ Indira Gandhi was in love with and she is coming to meet him. It’s a brilliant comic gimmick and a poignant reminder that Mother India being married to a Parsi.
Reviewers across the border have noted that every Parsi in Bollywood has been cast. The Parsis brigade is brilliant, each and every one of them, elevating a rather witty script to the realm of sensational. Shammi (not Parsi) plays Farhad's sweet grandmother and she works but there are no surprises there. Farah Khan too plays herself in her acting debut that looks more like a one off film. She doesn't try to act at all but gets the vibe immediately, after all she's half-Parsi, Daisy Irani's niece in real life. Naturally, hers and Boman's dance sequences are delightful, especially 'Ramba Mein Samba' throatily, lustily sung by Usha Uthup.
Yes, quite a few Parsis found Shirin Farhad to be exaggerated but isn't that the case with all rom coms, especially when they are given that spicy desi tarka treatment? Suspend disbelief and go for the joyride, this film is unassuming, with no ‘meaningful’ undertones. Theatrical, dramatic and hysterical the first half moves so fast that you don't know where the time went. The second half slows the film down as loose ends are tied together and misunderstandings are clarified but it gives you so many 'Aww' moments that you don't mind. Shirin Farhad Ki Tou Nikal Padi is heartwarming and in that it is perhaps the complete opposite of Sanjay Leela Bhansali fare.While the Indian directing legend did help his sister Bela Bhansali out, this is clearly her film - previously she has edited his work. While Sanjay thinks epic drama, Bela's content is concise and down to earth. One is also appreciative of the comparatively short length of Shirin Farhad, under two hours.
It’s a pity that this little gem of a movie hasn’t been able to hold give Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger boxoffice assault a run for its money. With Bollywood's emphasis on star power, Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi figures on the lower rung of the Indian blockbuster. I suppose one can throw in ageism as a factor too - Boman Irani and Farah Khan must seem a shocking couple to the Indian mind, not as easily palatable perhaps as Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini who delivered a superhit with Baghban. Ignore all the reports that tell you otherwise and give this one a go. Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi is easily one of the most enjoyable films to come out of Bollywood this year.
– Muniba Kamal
Four underrated movies starring
Shah Rukh Khan
By Amina Baig
We know you're thinking, 'what? How dare anyone ever underrate that which stars King Khan!' We'd like to remind you of the very first film that starred critically acclaimed Dil Se… costars Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala together: Guddu, to support this very scientific examination of Shah Rukh Khan's career. Guddu was the story of Guddu Bahadur and Salina, who get into an accident and the latter loses her vision. Dramatics ensue and Guddu Bahadur is banned from seeing his main goddess. Then he learns about his brain tumour and tries to donate his eyes to Salina. True love. Or that meme that ends with the guy giving his girlfriend his eyes and her dumping him because she can see now.
However, SRK has not forever been frolicking in a khait with Amrish Puri and some pigeons, indeed providing inspiration for hit 1994 tune, 'Channay Ke Khait Mein'. He's done some work which may have not made him huge amounts of money at the BO, but was preferable to a cardigan draped around Shah Rukh Khan's shoulders as he plays the banjo, birds gather at his feet, and other wildlife, and a ghost holds his hand.
If you like SRK, you should like Duplicate. There's double the King Khan here, and you get both a sweet romantic as Bablu and a badass in silver leather in Manu. Now, normally we'd suggest that everyone leave the silver leather to Salman Khan, or later to Hrithik Roshan, but Duplicate had everyone hamming it up to their best capabilities. Why does that make a movie that you'd like to watch SRK in, who is known for his intensely studied roles? For the same reason. Shah Rukh Khan playing the charming boyfriend of a daughter or robot or victim of racial profiling, is always the same. Over the top, way too much, and jeez Shah Rukh Khan, are some phrases that come to mind. Now picture a scenario where the only way to make the movie work is by putting those hammy acting instincts to work. Box Office gold! Except, the Indian audiences did not think so. Duplicate was the 14th highest (!) grossing film of '98, a year in which Bade Miyan Chote Miyan made it to number 2! Mahesh Bhatt too unclenched his serious auteur's muscle for a quick second with this one, as Duplicate played on all the stereotypes found in Indian cinema. The villain is extra gravelly, the villain's minions are extra minion-y and Farida Jalal is as delightful as ever as a matriarch, the measure of which depends on where you stand on the important 'How much Farida Jalal is too much Farida Jalal?', debate.
How awesome is a film that you've watched about once a year since 1999 and never really understood Twinkle Khanna’s presence in it till you read the IMDb summary? Far too awesome for words? Yes, is the word you're looking for. All that can really be taken away from Baadshah's general plot is that Shah Rukh Khan is Baadshah, a private eye, hired to rescue a little girl from her kidnappers and somehow ends up fraternizing with Amrish 'Chief' Puri &Co. and Seema, which is Twinkle Khanna, occasionally seen in a wig during the course of the movie. There's a lot of If Looks Could Kill in Baadshah, and Shah Rukh Khan proves, yes, proves, that he is quite brilliant at slapstick/ comedy. Abbas-Mustan have a gift for picking, and often pulling off the corniest of storylines, though not everyone may agree with their brand of humour, and this they do with Baadshah too, which did pretty decent opening business considering the films that did better than it include Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Taal, Hum Saath Saath Hain and Haseena Maan Jayegi.
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000)
You know how the media sometimes blows an event so out of proportion that it riles an entire nation up and brings them out on the streets? Dreamz Unlimited/ Aziz Mirza's Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani foresaw such a time. They did not anticipate a world with Twitter, otherwise the ridiculousness of people actually coming out on the streets for a cause could have been avoided, and Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani could have solidly been filmed with Ajay Bakshi and Ria Banerjee doing timely exposés and initiating protests from the comfort of their homes. Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani is funny in a way that is both heartbreaking and familiar, be it in the form of Juhi Chawla aka Ria's hyper mother or the way media wars play out - though here everything is exaggerated by a hundred times. Shah Rukh Khan is Shah Rukh Khan, as has he ever been anything else? Even in the super understated Swades, SRK managed to King Khan it a little, and these little feats make it okay to use 'King Khan' as a verb. But here's the thing: there are situations that make SRK a little better, and those situations have historically been found in movies with a comedic bent.
Karan Arjun (1995)
Karan Arjun did great business back in the day. Today, we may say 'Kuch kuch hota hai, tum nahi samjho gi,' when emulating Shah Rukh Khan, or run amok in mustard fields singing ballads, but have we ever considered that the best way to pull an SRK is to be reincarnated with Salman Khan as our twin? Not just that, after a weird flashback of our former lives, we can avenge the death of our father, and the Rakhee-ness of our mother by cleverly dethroning the village elder in a bloodful coup. The village elder is Amrish Puri, of course, Thakur Durjan Singh, who is evil and skeezy. There is lots of Salman Khan brooding in Karan Arjun, and lots of Salman Khan boxing and flexing his muscles, so there's that for those whom Shah Rukh Khan being a doting stable boy doesn't do it. He dotes on his girlfriend, Kajol, just to make things clear. And also the horses, because Arjun is not one to neglect his duties. But on a serious note, we'd like to point out what all successful Shah Rukh Khan movies in the '90s had in common: Amrish Puri! Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was not really a story about how the guy wins over the girl, but how he wins over her father. Some of the best moments in Baadshah involve Chief and Baadshah. The main conflict in Pardes, again, was between SRK and Amrish Puri's character. Can we expect anything less than the very best from a man who started his career as 'Thug in Church' in 1974, and graduated to General Dong in Tahalka (1992)? Well done, Amrish Puri, we will miss you forever. And here’s holding out hope for more great comedy from Shah Rukh Khan, whose definitely got lost in the A-lister’s quest for significance.