‘Good Newwz’ movie review: Serving merriment with manipulation

Akshay Kumar has had an interesting funny bone. Wicked, keeling towards the rude, the bawdy and the incorrect; and distinctly his own. His brand of humour has been harnessed well in the past in a Hera Pheri or Bhagam Bhaag and more recently in Jolly LLB2. However, over the last few years, it has largely fallen victim to Kumar’s own insistence on playing the self-righteous conscience keeper of the nation —be it PadmanKesari or Mission Mangal — or opting to do the entirely brain dead Housefull series. The good thing about Good Newwz then is that it gives Kumar a much needed opportunity to shed the boring nobility, let his hair down and play a normal man next door, one who can be despicable and offensive but perhaps not irredeemably so.

Kumar is the Mumbai cityslicker Varun Batra who has it all in life but for a child. While he doesn’t have an ounce of paternal instinct, his wife Deepti aka Deepu (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and family, are bent on him tasting the joys of parenthood. When nothing works, in-vitro fertilisation is sought as the way out. All well; only a couple from Chandigarh — Honey and Monika (Diljit Dosanjh and Kiara Advani) — with the same surname, also decides to reach out to the same fertility clinic. All hell breaks loose when their sperms get interchanged.

Kumar goes about his role with a good mix of poker-faced zing and rakish bluster. Kapoor Khan is a perfect foil to him with her refinement, cussedness and a very defined sense of purpose. Dosanjh and Advani are all about the amplification of the boisterous, kitschy Punjabi stereotype but they play it with an infectious cheer. The disparate worlds collide but eventually come to co-exist. And then there is the third couple, the doctors, underplayed with great relish by Adil Hussain and Tisca Chopra. The sharp lines, clever wordplay and repartee (writers Jyoti Kapoor, Raj Mehta and Rishabh Sharma) and actors’ on point comic timing feed off each other, and keep things playful and rumbustious for the most part.

It’s the soppy sentimentality towards the end that becomes a bit of a wet blanket. Also, the film tries hard to balance itself between the progressive and the conservative and is not able to be either. On the one hand is the easy and unapologetic way of dealing with the unconventional fulcrum of the story — sperm — as Vicky Donor had done earlier. On the other is the inability to take a clear stand on issues — it almost walks into a minefield when it comes to ideas of motherhood, abortion and adoption. Are women incomplete if they have chosen not to become moms? Is the birth of a child always a joyous thing for a woman? What about the postpartum blues? You have Kapoor Khan giving an impassioned, powerful speech on what motherhood does to a woman — physically and psychologically but the overarching virtues and romanticisation of it stay, rather strongly underlined, ironically, by a gynecologist. Then there’s the “apna to apna hota hai (one’s own)” angle: the perpetuation of one’s genes, name and family above all else. A damper of morality and manipulation after an uninhibited and irrepressibly refreshing start.

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