Bittersweet: that seems like an apt description of marriages, the way they’re perceived in pop culture. Bittersweet is also the way Shaadi Ke Side Effects turns out to be. The actors – Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan, save a disjointed script and elevate it to an acceptable status. Their performances make this film watchable. The movie, despite its sporadic moments, only manages to deal in clichés and expected developments.
At times, like a marriage on the rocks, Shaadi… frustrates you beyond measure. The sub-plots and scenes are near archaic in design. It’s a wonder then, that Farhan and Vidya make them look up to date. Sample this. Siddharth Roy (Farhan) and Trisha Mallik (Vidya) fall in love on a holiday in Australia. They get hitched, they get pregnant and the illusion of a passionate romance crumbles under the reality of having children and dealing with everyday chores. This same story has perhaps been recreated on celluloid a thousand times before. In fact, one assumes this exact plot description has fuelled TV soap operas for 20 years or so. But, every now and then, the movie throws up a genuinely touching scene or a thought, worthy of contemplation. Like the scene where Farhan turns down a shot at featuring on a TV show, just because he’s afraid of taking a chance. Or the scene where he takes out his frustration on his three-year-old daughter only to have her wipe his tears. Even the montage in Australia is a nice touch. It’s moments like these that save the film.
So while writer/director Saket Chaudhary’s inconsistency does no favours for the film, his actors have to double-time their on-screen charisma. Farhan’s comedy timing, his dramatic punches and his nuanced reactions add to a great performance. This movie is told from the man’s perspective. Farhan’s character is shown as the one suffering in light of his wife’s inability to deal with motherhood and its challenges. Keeping the accidental misogyny aside, the setting does allow Farhan to play with so many shades of a character. He’s a doting husband, a petrified new father, a struggling musician, an envious brother-in-law and a spirited person forced to live life in a box. The actor does justice to every bit. Vidya could’ve taken a back seat thanks to a limited character sketch, however excels and floors both comedy and drama with ease. Her character comes to the fore only at the end of the film and that’s when Vidya’s performance gathers steam as well.
Had the same film been made with lesser actors, it would’ve been another forgettable rom com. But Farhan and Vidya save this film from mediocrity. There’s no catchy music, there’s very little to hold your interest in terms of story and/or creative concept. There is some meaty dialogue though. And that helps supporting actors like Ram Kapoor, Ila Arun and Vir Das help bring home the bacon.