Less than ten minutes into Saket Chaudhary's Shaadi Ke Side Effects, his leading lady Trisha Mallik (Vidya Balan) declares that if husbands are too busy with work, what choice does wives have other than to watch TV serials! This sets the tone of the film, which 'supposedly' brings to you the story of what happens after the
happily-ever after moment that marks the end of every Bollywood love story.
A lot of films have already been made to massage the male ego and justify why marriage is almost suicidal for men. Marriage has been compared to "dal chawal everyday for 50 years" and our films have given out loud messages that a bit of "biriyani" to spice up the monotony is harmless. But with Vidya Balan and Farhan Akhtar in lead roles, you expect a fresh and balanced perspective on the institution of marriage. However, SKSE provides none of this and falls flat in just about half an hour despite the stellar performances.
The main problem with the film is that it is told completely from the point of view of the husband, Sidharth Roy, a small time musician. The character Sid is nothing but that of a man-child, who cannot (read makes no effort to) cope with the pressures and demands of fatherhood.
It is hard to relate to or sympathise with Sid as most of the writing makes him come off as trivial and self-centred. When his wife asks him to try and feel what she is going through during pregnancy rather than reading 'what to expect' books, he starts walking around with a water balloon tucked under his t-shirt. Also, there is
not even one sequence in the film in which we see him show some fatherly affection to his daughter. If not for Akhtar's spontaneity and comic timing, Sid would have become a highly intolerable presence in the film.
As we hear only Sid's expert commentary throughout the film, Trisha, his wife gets reduced to an annoying nag, who does not care about anything but her baby. Towards the end of the film, Chaudhary, thankfully, allows Trisha a few minutes to redeem herself and talk about what a woman goes through during pregnancy and childbirth.
Apart from this, the film always points fingers at how moody she is, how fat she has become, how badly she dresses and how 'practical' she is. Balan, being the wonderful actor she is, manages to squeeze in the most in the limited space she is given.
There is also the stock supporting cast by way of a hipster friend who cannot complete a single sentence without saying bro (Vir Das), the handsome yet nosy neighbour (Purab Kohli), the brother-in-law who is perfect husband and father material (Ram Kapoor) and the maid who turns philosopher (Ila Arun), who all seem to play out parts
that were added as afterthoughts. To be fair, the film does have its share of funny moments, but again it is always the men who have the last and loudest laughs out of them all. And all of it is packed into the first half, making the latter half seem a tad too long.
With done-to-death marriage jokes and more subplots than one strong thread, you feel a sense of deja vu too many times in the film. The believability factor comes down to zero towards the climax where Chaudhary introduces a twist that even Balan seems unconvinced to pull off. In short, SKSE is a predictable take on urban parenting woes that does not work because of a largely uninventive script.
Film: Shaadi Ke Side Effects
Director: Saket Chaudhary
Cast: Vidya Balan, Farhan Akhtar, Ram Kapoor, Vir Das