Comedy Couple movie review: Saqib Saleem, Shweta Basu Prasad attempt to dial up the funny
Director: Nachiket Samant
Cast: Saqib Saleem, Shweta Basu Prasad
Though it picks up a long list of issues, at its core, Comedy Couple wants to be about a man who cannot stop lying. But unlike Jim Carrey, it’s not a child’s magical birthday wish, but a lukewarm glass of gaumutra, that finally sets him straight. Director Nachiket Samant manages slivers of brave and topical commentary on religious extremism, conservatism, unethical journalism and radical feminism with Comedy Couple but the anchor it hinges on--the romantic chaos of a Gurugram couple--is so weak, it dulls the effect by half.
Watch the trailer for Comedy Couple:
Saqib Saleem and Shweta Basu Prasad are Deep and Zoya, a millennial couple, trying to make their way into the comedy circuit. They, quite unimaginatively, call themselves the Comedy Couple and throw gags about their relationship, sex life, house hunting as a live-in couple, parental pressures and occasionally on gaumutra. As underwhelming as their material is, it still lands them in trouble with bully cops (who cannot bear jokes about a cow’s bodily fluids but one about molesting a Muslim women cracks them up no end), the screaming TV news anchor who dubs them anti-national with links to terrorists, and a flock of extremists whose idea of revenge/apology is making comedians drink the subject of their controversial gag.
In between all of this, the focus is still on Deep and Zoya’s relationship and how it often falls into chaos due to his excessive lying. While she is the daughter of a more liberal single mother (Pooja Bedi), who paints nude models in Paris, his parents cannot be more different. His father (Rajesh Tailang) is a man from small town UP with Gandhian values and a penchant for IT jobs, science stream and maun vrats. Deep cannot muster the courage to come clean and tell his family that he quit his job two years ago, or that he is a full time comedian now, or that he is in live-in with a girl he never told them about. What’s worse is that he never tells Zoya what all he has been lying about to his family, causing big trust issues between the two.
It takes a good 60 minutes for the movie to really get into gear. After a long time spent on house-hunting to wedding planning to breaking up to reconciling, the film finally becomes worth investing in. While the arrival of his parents make the comedic highlight of the film, the final clash of egos of our protagonists and a resounding slap make for the dramatic highlight. However, as ineffective as Deep and Zoya’s comedy was, their dramatic montages are worse. Nachiket falls deep and hard for the Devdas cliche, as his hero drinks like a fish after heartbreak, smokes up till his eyes are bloodshot, doesn’t bathe for days, moves in with his addict friend (Aadar Malik) and could definitely not resist the broody turning off and on of the night lamp. The cliched scenes do nothing to raise Saqib’s performance either.
Shweta does handle the dramatic scenes quite well on her part, with the same intensity and emotional power that she first showed with Iqbal or Makdee, 18 years ago. On the comedy front, both are more lacklustre than the other. Shweta’s animated laughter doesn’t help the comedy feel any bit more organic and Saqib’s infantilising tone and baby-talking gets tiring in the first minute itself.
Thankfully, the druggie friend and the desi dad provide moments of respite. While Aadar clearly has fun with his role, Rajesh truly shines as the conservative UP man. A stark contrast to his roles in more serious, darker shows such as Delhi Crime, Rajesh manages to make the strict and umbrella wielding dad the funniest guy on the show about comedy and comedians.
Comedy Couple meant well, even had a couple of rather brave ideas considering the times we are living in. Wish it had a better story, writing, and performances to hold it together.
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