Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Vidya Balan, Ram Kapoor, Vir Das, Purab Kohli
Direction: Saket Chaudhury
Saket Chaudhury’s ‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’ is a classic example of a director approaching a topic that he is quite obviously not convinced about. The narrative is peppered with genuine humour but the plot baffles you with the many theories it throws up and immediately debunks.
Gender roles are being redefined daily, and contemporary marriages are complex entities. Throw into it a metrosexual male, who is not the traditional MCP husband but one who wants to make an honest attempt at becoming a good father. Instead of making an example out of a man who is trying so hard, the director makes him apologise for the lifestyle choices he makes, which is merely to also seek private space in a marriage.
We are handed this ridiculous notion that pursuing your own passion/hobby/alone-time is tantamount to adultery. Unless your marriage is this all-consuming entity where every bit of your time is spent with your spouse and child, you are actually CHEATING.
You would initially think that the director is attempting satire but he actually romanticizes notions of marriage and parenthood. He makes it look like a sin to merely want to seek happiness in small things that are not related to marriage at all. It reminds me of the film ‘Shall We Dance’, where a workaholic lawyer, Richard Gere signs-up for ballroom dance classes and hides it from his family for the longest time. He is guilty because the time he is spending at the classes is time away from his wife and children.
‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’ raises very pertinent issues that every modern married couple face. How do we create work-life balance? After a child, how do couples find time for themselves, even though they are trying hard to spend quality time with the child? After, you have made time for wife and child, when do you make time for yourself, for your friends?
All these are valid concerns but the way they are addressed is flippant and shoddy. Add to this the main leads, who are completely flawed characters.
Trisha Roy (Vidya Balan) is a career woman who is the primary breadwinner of the family. Come pregnancy, she decides to become a full-time mother, which is fine but she decides to do this with no help at all. When you can afford it, why won’t you hire a nanny, avail of a daycare facility or ask your parents to help every once in a while? Instead, she chooses to become a stay-at-home mom, who is always critical of the husband who is completely new to fatherhood. Later, after she hires a full-time help, she is in no hurry to get into shape but is busy eating ice-cream out of a tub and complaining how it distresses her that she doesn’t look good and can’t spend time with her husband.
It is exactly this notion of trying to be a perfect parent that is problematic. She decides to give up her identity of her own accord but holds her husband responsible for it. If an individual decides to make sacrifices for their marriage or child, they alone are responsible for it. Why blackmail the husband who never asked you to give it up in the first place but instead offered you alternatives?
The husband, Siddharth Roy (Farhan Akhtar) isn’t someone you will look up to either. He is quick to take advice from friends (played by Ram Kapoor and Vir Das) without really thinking it through. What works for your friends might not work for you. He is right when he says that marriage doesn’t need a strategy. But all marriage needs is complete truth? Really? Anyone who has been married for long enough knows that is not true. Marriage needs a clear understanding of realistic expectations from both parties.
Siddharth can never communicate to his wife what he really wants. He is almost emotionally blackmailed into making the ‘practical’ decisions. None of his decisions have been thought through; even the decision to have a child is completely impulsive. You are bound to have problems if you have no control over your decisions.
You can’t blame marriage as an institution if as individuals, the husband and wife have no clarity on the way ahead.
There is a lot of fun to be had while watching ‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’ if you are not drawing any real-life lessons from the film. Farhan is superb as he pitches a perfect portrayal. Vidya’s character is more linear but nagging and the extra post-preganancy weight seems to come naturally to her.
The film also fails to establish a father-daughter bond; I guess that stems from the fact that the mother is so overbearing. But my main grudge continues to be the fact that the director really has no clue about modern marriages.
The complete lack of conviction translates on screen as a story that is half-baked and tepid at best.
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