Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya Movie Review: Flimsy fun with nothing profound to offer

Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya Movie Review: Flimsy fun with nothing profound to offer

Shahid Kapoor and Kriti Sanon’s rom-com suffers from artificial writing
Rating:(2.5 / 5)

In David Fincher’s Gone Girl, the psychopathic wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) describes the “cool girl”. “She likes what he likes,” she says in a voiceover. We see Amy puff a cigarette while sitting on a toilet seat and cough. Strangely, the 2014 thriller popped up in my head while watching Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya. Here is a cool girl, manufactured in a lab, who can speak all languages and cook all cuisines. Sitting pillion, she doesn’t get afraid if the bike goes above the speed limit. She is tall, and slender, with Barbie skin and hair. She offers to play FIFA with you if you are sad. She smokes for the first time and doesn’t cough. The “perfect” girl. Now, I know this is a harmless rom-com whose metatext doesn’t need to be overly scrutinised. But still, there is something uncomfortable, maybe even problematic about TBMAUJ’s vision of a female robot. “Tumhare koi tante nahi hain (You don’t have any nagging habits),” Shahid Kapoor’s Aryan tells Kriti Sanon’s Sifra. “Tante matlab? (Tante, meaning?),” she asks. Shahid looks at her, lovingly. Mansplaining is just about feeding data here. How can a man not fall in love?

Directed by: Amit Joshi, Aradhana Sah

Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Dharmendra, Dimple Kapadia

Aryan is a charming, genius, robotics engineer who is too hard to please. Kabir Singh (2019) hovered in my head in a scene where he is unimpressed with his maid’s cooking. His family has been bugging him to get married. On a visit to his maasi (aunt) Urmila’s (Dimple Kapadia) robotics facility in the US he meets Sifra and falls in love. There is a minor problem though, Sifra is a robot. A Super Intelligent Female Robot Automation (SIFRA), to be precise. Actual AI engineers might chuckle. Even after coming to know that Sifra is not human, Aryan is unable to let go of his feelings for her. On the pretext of testing her under “Indian conditions”, he gets her to Delhi to meet his big fat Punjabi family. A comedy of (404) errors follows, which mostly include Sifra taking casual comments as commands (“You are looking so hot, you are going to put Delhi on fire.” “Do you want me to set fire to Delhi?”) or conking off in front of the entire family because of low battery.

The humour seems to stem solely from the set-up of a robot interacting with the whacky members of an Indian family. It’s like Karishma Kaa Karishma with grownups. But the novelty of the concept soon wears off and what is exposed is the artificiality of the writing. Although there are some instances of fun situational comedy, most one-liners fall flat. Thankfully the jokes aren’t cringe, but they are also not memorable. A lot of comic sequences seem to be mere fillers and don’t add anything to the larger story.

It all falls down to the performances when the narrative doesn’t hold up. Shahid Kapoor looks lean and exuberates a rugged charm but his acting is at most sufficient. At times, I felt as if he was improvising scenes, trying to make them zappier, funnier. Kriti Sanon is convincingly robotic (I mean that as a compliment) as Sifra. She judiciously emotes and offers a performance that is amusing to watch. Dharmendra as Aryan’s grandfather is a cuddly presence and he livens each scene he is a part of.

The problem with TBMAUJ is that it doesn’t lead to anything. It isn’t a pondering on loneliness and man-machine relationship like Her (2013). Nor is it an AI- horror flick like the Terminator series or Ex-Machina (2014). It is mostly a family rom-com, which has nothing new to offer about families or romance. It doesn’t have anything to comment on modern love, the singularity, male-female interactions or the pressures and expectations on women in a patriarchal society. In a scene, when Sifra is introduced to the family, they ask her about her parents and her birth time, so that they can match her kundali. I expected some commentary on the two banes for marriage in India: religion and caste. “She is an orphan,” explains Shahid’s Aryan. Keep it cool, I guess.

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