Directed by: Shoojit Sircar
Starring: Ayushman Khurana, Annu Kapoor, Yami Gautam, Dolly Ahluwalia
All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
As someone who doesn’t have to see the trailer or read every bit of media associated with an upcoming film’s release, it is inevitable from time to time that I will go to the cinema knowing very little about the latest release (especially if it hasn’t been hyped to the high heavens) and be disappointed by the film that I see. But sometimes, not knowing anything about the film can be a blessing in disguise. With a rowdy audience in place on a Sunday afternoon that was still buzzing about the Teri Meri Kahani trailer that had just played, when Vicky Donor finally began, I really didn’t know what to expect. But whether it can tame the rowdy audience as well as impress someone with no expectation from it was the challenge faced by Vicky Donor and I wasn’t sure which way it would go.
Luckily, Vicky Donor manages to clear rowdy audience/cinema snob hurdles with confidence and leaps forward with a smart and very modern take on sperm donation. I should really take a moment here to say when I realised the film was about sperm donation (the sperm motif in the opening credits suggested something was er, up) I did fear that Vicky Donor would be some sort of gross out comedy a la American Pie but thankfully, the script is far smarter than that, giving a straightforward story intelligent treatment and also gifting the audience with some credit too.
What I really liked about the script was how it covered so many topics effortlessly, never feeling preachy or laboured but instead, allowing the viewer to make up their own mind while gently advocating a very welcome liberal stance. So we have fertility, male and female pride, morality, ethics, social mobility and even racism (Vicky Donor captures regional snobbery perfectly though I did find the “ching chong” comment at the end offensive) presented confidently and with a mature outlook which turns a sensitive subject into a very funny and relevant comedy.
The only thing I didn’t like about Vicky Donor was the ending which I felt was far too neat and tidy and smacked of pressure to make the film more commercial rather than see the whole concept through to what I thought would be a logical conclusion. That is to say, I would have preferred to guess what happens with Vicky and Ashima after the film ends rather than being told. Having said that, the ending does try hard to avoid being too cliched and is forgivable with the rest of the film being so entertaining.
Performance wise, the cast are fresh and fantastic. Annu Kapoor gives a superb performance as Baldev Chadda, not only playing up the comic side of the character to the max but also making Dr Chadda a likeable and intelligent man which contributes to the tapestry of the film as a whole. Khurana is also good as Vicky though I felt he could have been pushed a little further but he succeeds in endearing himself to the viewer rather than being irritating and handles the different emotions of the role quite well. I liked Gautam as Ashima who was also a very likeable character and gets given plenty of food for thought by the story and thankfully, Gautam grabs the opportunity with both hands and gives a good account of herself. But it is Dolly Ahluwalia and Kamlesh Gill who steal the show as the mother and grandmother respectively, with a camaraderie that feels so realistic and natural that it forms the backbone of the film. Added to this is how their relationship neatly encapsulates the tradition vs modernity debate of the film in a very moving yet funny way.
2012 really is turning up some great films – Paan Singh Tomar, Kahaani, Agneepath and now Vicky Donor which I would confidently describe as this year’s Tanu Weds Manu. Entertaining yet thought provoking as well covering a subject that could have gone horribly wrong, Vicky Donor is certainly worth a watch and that too in cinema to show support for a film that has rightly achieved that coveted accolade of positive word of mouth recommendation. That I didn’t know what to expect only added to my enjoyment of the film and no doubt this film will find much of its audience in this way: unaware but once they have seen it, they will be glad they did. Recommended.