Laced with humor, replete with charm, and relatable to most Indian men who’ve had to perpetually dodge the bullet of coerced sisterly love – Behen Hogi Teri is as much a refreshing piece of cinema about seemingly mundane yet completely wacky issues that can only happen in Indian towns, as it is a wonderful, reverential ode to the Hrishikesh Mukherjee brand of filmmaking, wherein one needn’t had to look further than the common problem of everyday folk for a healthy dose of laughter.
Highlighting the fears of young men in one such North Indian town, the script of Behen Hogi Teri brilliantly harps on how these young, testosterone-filled guys get trapped since birth by the age-old Indian philosophy on treating all neighborhood girls as your sister. It neither scoffs no lectures about this irrational mindset, instead passes a wonderfully subtle social message while injecting proceedings with copious humors and digs at everyday life in a small Indian town. By focusing on the most-unassuming of heroic characters one could imagine – Gattu – played by one of the most-unassuming actors imaginable in a hero’s role – Rajkummar Rao – Director Ajay K. Pannalal packages a neatly entertaining film that’ll keep you smiling, chuckling, and intermittently rolling with laughter at its narrative.
All Gattu ever wanted since his early teens was to be the guy that gets the firecracker Binny – his next-door neighbor. His antics to perennially escape the trappings of accepting every girl in your locality, especially your neighbor, as your sister, are a complete hoot. You’ll laugh at his every attempt to woo Binny, be charmed by his earnestness, and even feel sympathetic once in a while when things don’t seem to be going his way. Credit for this goes as much to Rajkummar’s incredible ability to disappear into any character he plays as to Vinit Vyas and Rajat Nonia’s surefooted script that boasts some hilarious jokes and situational comedy. From lamenting at how local buys can enver get a chance as long as NRI-grooms keep coming into the picture to taking said NRI-groom on a wild-goose chase to cursing every Rahul character played by Shah Rukh Khan for his plight – Rajkummar’s struggle to win the love of his life comes across as refreshingly engaging and breezily funny.
Of course, there’s the winsome supporting cast of Darshan Jariwala as Gattu’s dad, Ninad kamat as Binny’s elder brother, Herry Tangri as Gattu’s buddy, and veterans Ranjeet and Gulshan Grover as a pair of honor-killing gang heads. They collectively inject life into the narrative even when it dips in the second half. Pannalal, who assuredly handles the trappings of the Indian youth till the interval, himself falls into a small trap of sorts in the second half by losing control over the myriad subplots and dragging the show along by 15-20 unnecessary minutes. Still, the game supporting cast has so much of fun with their lines and scenes that such inconsistencies get glossed over to an extent. If Jariwala offers a fine blueprint of how to play an over-the-top character without the actor himself ever going overboard, then Ninad is picture-perfect as someone who infuses comic timing in a character that’s intrinsically aggressive and saddled with rigid archaic beliefs. Tangri walks away with some of the best scenes as the guy who gets confused for the one who’s trying to woo Binny, and it’s nothing short of sheer pleasure to watch Ranjeet and Gulshan together on screen, in a welcome detour from their vile, villainous days.
Now, comes the biggest downside of the film – its heroine, whose contribution to the script was as vital as that of Rajkummar. Unfortunately, Shruti Haasan is woefully miscast, though she tries her best to fit in and deliver a believable act. It’s just that Rajkummar is so natural that her inadequacies before him are clearly visible. A better actress was needed to match his abilities, particularly when the film loses some steam towards its stretched-out climax. Gautam Gulati as the NRI suitor also barely passes muster. Another disappointment is the music as none of the songs click, which is quite inappropriate for a rom-com. The other technical aspects like the production design and cinematography though fit the bill to the T, and succeed in adding to the film’s rustic flavor.
So, overall, Behen Hogi Teri is a wonderfully refreshing small-town love-story, with a lovable loser act by Rajkummar Rao, and an eclectic mix of winsome supporting characters. Pannalal makes a promising directorial debut, with clear influences from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s style of cinema. If you’ve missed Indian cinema, where common folk, with simple goals and small dreams, finally win the day, then Behen Hogi Teri should definitely be right up your alley.
Movified Rating: 3.5/5
Images Source: Oddball