With the runaway success last year of CRAZY RICH ASIANS, it was to be expected that other countries in the region would jump on the bandwagon and show the world that their rich folk can be just as crazy. Indian screenwriter Jyoti Kapoor’s characters aren’t nearly as fabulously rich as Kevin Kwan’s characters are but they do have bigger issues to deal with in director Raj Mehta’s directorial debut, GOOD NEWWZ.
Varun (Akshay Kumar) and Deepu (Kareena Kapoor) Batra are well-to-do Mumbaikars. He’s a superstar salesman at a Volkswagen dealership; she’s a famous journalist. They’ve been married for a few years now and Deepu has decided that she’d like to have a child before it’s too late. Varun isn’t so sure he’d like to be a father and he comes up with excuse after excuse (i.e., lie after lie) not to have sex with his sultry wife. You’d think that would set off a whole slew of alarm bells in Deepu’s head but it doesn’t. Instead, she convinces him that they should go to a fertility clinic and get pregnant that way, as if that’s any better. They do and she does except that the sperm that is implanted into her body belongs to Honey Batra (Diljit Dosanjh), a garish, well-to-do buffoon from Chandigarh who just happened to be at the clinic on the same day having the same procedure done with his wife, Monika (Kiara Advani). And guess who the biological father of her child is?
Faced with the option of aborting their foetus, the Mumbai Batras decide to maintain the course even though Varun is less than pleased that his wife is carrying someone else’s child and another woman is carrying his child, neither of which he wanted in the first place. Again, alarm bells should be ringing but they’re not… or maybe Deepu is just deaf. For the Chandigarh Batras, abortion is never an option to be considered as they are pleased as punch that they are going to be parents regardless of who the biological father is. In fact, they’re so pleased, they decide to rent the flat above Varun and Deepu so that they can become friends with their new co-parents. The two Batras though, or more specifically the two male Batras, are like chalk and cheese, and the next nine months tests everyone’s patience and resolve as the two couples try to figure out how to get along.
GOOD NEWWZ is a real mixed bag. It starts off as a comedy, then shifts into being a farce, then drifts into very serious territory, then back to being a farce before finally landing with a soppy, feel-good, happy ending. Of course, being a Bollywood film, it also includes a number of over-the-top song-and-dance sequences but even in my admittedly limited experience watching such films I can say that the choreography here is nothing to write home about. But what do I know? GOOD NEWWZ has been a huge box office hit in India taking in more than five times its production budget since its release at the end of December. I doubt it will be very successful here though. Most of the jokes barely registered as much as a titter with my audience. Perhaps abortion would be the option of choice for many local couples who are faced with the same dilemma. Even so, although I didn’t check my watch during the screening, I was surprised that the film’s running time was barely over ninety minutes. It often seemed like ninety months, especially when the two men are laying the schmaltz on thick. I would have preferred to have seen the female characters be more assertive with their spouses rather than be nagging shrews but maybe Bollywood isn’t quite ready to show strong women who don’t kvetch.
GOOD NEWWZ is definitely not my kind of movie but maybe it’s yours. If it is, that might just be good news to your ears and eyes.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, February 14th, 8:30 am HK time!
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