Shaadi Ke Side Effects is a colossally boring film, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make a great drinking game. You do a shot every time there’s a thundering cliché along the lines of “having a baby affects your love life” or “men can’t take responsibility”. You do two shots if there’s a reference to Vidya Balan’s weight, three if you spot a lift from Knocked Up or Modern Family or half a dozen other probable sources. And if you laugh, you’re out, because alcohol’s wasted on anyone who finds this film funny.
After a night of let’s-pretend-we’re-married-to-other-people, Trisha (Balan) and Siddharth (Akhtar) realise that an unplanned stork visit is in order. Rather than taking care of things and spending the rest of the film in a Bergmanesque funk, they decide to have the baby. Everything’s cute for about five minutes. Then Trisha starts scolding Siddharth about everything from baby towels to his piñata skills. Two hours later, she’s still yelling and he still has that martyred look.
Director Saket Chaudhary and his co-writers Arshad Sayed and Zeenat Lakhani make Trisha out to be a terrible scold, but let’s look at the evidence. She’s the one who gave up a corporate career to raise the child; her biggest crime is being a little obsessive with her parenting. He, on the other hand, is the jingle composer who decided to become a parent after some backwards advice from a stranger with quadruplets, the father who leaves his toddler behind with a horse-handler, the family man who goes to the extent of creating a new identity so he can move into a PG accommodation and spend time away from his home every few weeks. Yet, Trisha’s the one who has to stop eating ice-cream because it’s making her fat.
It’s depressing to watch Akhtar and Balan try and ground these caricatures in reality, only to be tripped up by tin-ear writing and bombed by clichés. The only thing less surprising than Trisha and Siddharth’s marriage coming apart at the seams is the way it’s hastily sewn back together. Ram Kapoor, Vir Das and Ila Arun turn up for cameos, as do Samsung, Royal Enfield and a bunch of other product placements. There’s even a split-second clip from Chaudhury’s previous film, the unrelated Rahul Bose-Mallika Sherawat starrer Pyaar Ke Side Effects. Hubris. Learn it in Bollywood.
This review was for Time Out Delhi.