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Happy Family Is Funny & Enjoyable



Babbar-Ratna Pathak Shah

Happy Family, Conditions Apply(Prime)

Directed  by Aatish Kapadia, Jamnadas Majethia

Rating: *** ½

Dysfunctional  families are the new functional .Coincidentally the feature film Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar  and the series Happy Family, Conditions Apply  released this week, share an affinity for the joint family,creaky joints and all,not to mention  their lengthy V. Shantaram styled titles.

Happy Family is a strange animal. It infuriates  and amuses, exasperates  and endears itself provided you stay non-judgemental about the  borderline obsessive characters as  well as about the content which gives them a freeflowing movement  that frequently makes them look foolish.

Part  of  our mixed feelings come from the  fact that the  characters, each so sharply written you feel you know  him or her(although  you don’t really want to), are like that: highly annoying and fixated  in their opinions. None more so than Hemlata Dholakia, played smirkingly by the magnificent Ratna Pathak Shah who seems to grow better with age(can’t say the same about her  bitter-half Naseeruddin Shah whose Akbar act in Taj made me exclaim, ‘Eeew, Naseer).

Ratna plays  the  tiresomely whiny matriarch to Raj Babbar quietly acerbic  patriarch Mansukhlal.They reminded me of Achala Sachdev  and  A.K Hangal  in the film Kora Kagaz.One so voluble  and aggressive  that  the other has to no choice  to  stay voluntarily meek.

Since  the  grandmasters  of the  Gujju community Aatish Kapadia and Jamnadas Majethia are involved , comparisons with Sarabhai Versus Sarabhai and  Khichdi are inevitable, but inappropriate. The characters  in Happy Family, Conditions Apply are  painted  in different strokes.

The  equation between Hemlata  and  her granddaughter-in-law Tisca(Meenal Sahu) is far from what  we normally get in the Sas-Bahu serials. Hemalata taunts rebukes and insults Tisca. But the spunky girl(who is  planning to shift out with her  husband Sanjoy, not Sanjay)  takes it all on her chin and even forms  an uneasy sisterhood with her Sasaumaa.

At  any given point in the plot, there is a crossbreed  of activities happening. Not all of it is exciting or interesting. Some of the writing, especially about the missing jewellery in the family, needed more of  a shoulder. The  jokes are  often stretched  out beyond endurance. But the actors especially Ratna Shah, Babbar, Atul Kulkarni  are in fine  form. Atul Kumar as  the  NRI Dholakia  heir who has a surprise  for  the family,is  a hoot.

Happy Family is fun in a goofy ground-level connectible  kind of way.It may not be a laugh riot. But that’s okay. It delivers what it promises.

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