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Khandaani Shafakhana Movie Review: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Subhash K . Jha

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Khandaani Shafakhana

Starring: Sonakshi Sinha,Varun Sharma,Priyanshu Jora, Kulbhushan  Kharbanda,Annu Kapoor, Nadira Babbar

Directed  by Shilpi Dasgputa

Rating: ****(4 stars)

 There are some wonderful things happening in this  offbeat entertainer. For one, the tightlipped  stuffed shirts are being made to talk about,ahem, sex.

When did Bollywood lose  its inhibitions? Probably  when we were watching  B R Ishara’s Chetna or RajinderSingh Bedi’s Dastak,revolutionary  films way back in  the  1970s where women were shown  to have a sexual appetite that  needed fuelling in  a country that won’t even acknowledge male sexuality and its pitfalls unless done  in whispers.

Here in this  brave  and  uninhibited  film an anonymous woman  comes to a courtroom  and speaks of a husband whose  ‘balloon’ had no ‘gas’ until he visited the notorious Baby Bedi’s  sex clinic.

Baby, by the way , is played with  feisty energy  by Sonakshi Sinha.Whether riding  her rickety scootie to work , berating an angry  sex-o-phobic  patriarch whose anger is  rooted to  a bad case of  piles, or  advising her  neighbourhood crush to try the roadside  soup….Sonakshi pulls  off the Baby  talk (ironically,  sex) with spirit  ….too much at  times  as she belongs to that  school  of  acting which believes an actor  must act  every second in a frame to  justify her  paycheck. It’s an anxious performance, but nonetheless effective as  it  suits the purpose of this perky yet wound-up  tale  of  a young aimless woman who must take  over  her beloved uncle’s sex clinic.

Sex is  a tricky subject in Bollywood,  specially when  you want to make  it palatable to  a non-adult  audience. Debutante director  Shilpi Dasgupta  succeeds  in giving  the sex-talk  a goofy  yet sober spin. However  the  sex talk lacks the  ‘it’ quality.The narrative structures  itself as  a  coming-of-age saga , but the  episodes  leading  up to Baby Bedi’s  self-awareness are  a little tame.

The regular customers  of   Bedi’s  Mamajee(Kulbhushan Kharbanda,   who plays  a dead man with the  affection  and warmth that only he can) who  trickle into the clinic when Baby takes  over, could have been more lively and  provocative. Sadly the patients try our patience. Their inhibition in sharing their  bedroom problems with the sex guru’s novice niece seems to be shared by the  director. Where  a  more robust approach was needed to show how sinfully sex is swept under  the carpet in  our society , the narrative  opts for much fumbling and  stumbling.

 But then rapper-singer Badshah comes  forward  to tell Baby he suffers from, ahem , erectile  dysfunction and would she please help him….errrr, rise  to the occasion.That’s when the plot gets stimulated and ,ummm, sexed  up.

By simply being a  film that espouses a more open attitude  to sex , even in the  mildly hilarious courtroom sequence where Annu Kapoor and Rajesh Varma are  fabulous as the defence lawyer and judge, Khaandani Shafakhana  wins you over.While the  director does stumble a bit in talking about sex, she is bang-on with Baby’s family life. VarunDhawan and Nadira Bedi look so much like Baby’s brother and mother that I  felt I  was watching a reality show where the  prize is a free trip to Bangkok’s massage parlour without  assuming an alias.

There is  a  wonderful  real-life moment in the  family scene when  Nadira Babbar wishes her  daughter would get a husband like Raj Babbar.

 Babbar, Sonakshi doesn’t get. But she does get the shy sensible boy  nextdoor(Priyanshu Jora) who blushes hard when Baby bursts into  her  bedroom babble.

With  a camera(Rishi Punjabi)  that captures Punjab’s inner-city vibes with as  much throbbing efficacy as it  clasps Baby in tight no-frills  close-ups,  this is  film of far more value than the throwaway lines may  initially  suggest.

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