Reviewing the Reviews: Mostly 2.5-3 stars for ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’

10 Feb,2014

By Deepa Gahlot

Hasee Toh Phasee

Directed by: Vinil Matthew

Starring: Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Manoj Joshi, etc

 

Adman Vinil Mathew’s debut feature Hasee Toh Phasee has enviable backing—Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap.  The romantic dramedy got mixed reviews, mostly 2.5 and 3 star ratings, slight disappointment at not reaching its potential, unreserved raves for its lead actress Parineeti Chopra and just a little less appreciation for Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Joshi.

 

It’s not very often that the female lead in a film is an eccentric scientist, so the film scores some points there. The love triangle set amidst a wedding (oh no!) is otherwise standard issue, down to the armies of overdressed relatives and the airport pre-climax, but with some deviations.

 

Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express wrote, “Batty girl meets sweet fellow. Is it cute? Yes, that first ‘mulaqaat’ is. And then? Then ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ wanders about figuring out whether it wants to be a contemporary rom com, or a Gujju soap, or a 60s melodrama, or all of the above. This confusion confounds the film, fronted by the most talented female lead working in Bollywood right now, and makes her much less fun than she can be. And that holds true for the film, too. It is most exasperating, because ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ seems to have everything going for it. The smart, varying sensibilities of co-producers Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap, a likeable leading man, and a crackerjack heroine. What it doesn’t have is a coherent story, and that’s why none of the refreshing bits add up.”

 

Saibal Chatterjee of Ndtv.com was more impressed. “Mercifully, Hasee Toh Phasee, notwithstanding its rather unimaginative title and its muddled core, is a mildly diverting, if somewhat woolly-headed, entertainer held together by its unapologetically absurdist spirit.  The film works primarily because the lead pair is in fine fettle, flowing along with the unstoppable tide of fluffiness while adding their own angularities to the proceedings. The multiple cross-connections that occur as the film meanders to its predictable climax are bizarre. After a sluggish first half that is expended largely on setting the stage for the eventual scramble to unravel the tangle, the second half springs to some semblance of life, and in pleasantly surprising ways.”

 

Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com liked it more than others. “Directed by Vinil Mathew and based on Harshavardhan Kulkarni’s story/screenplay, Hasee Toh Phasee takes a familiar premise — two people on the brink of tying the knot and introduces a third party to cause expected stir. Only it doesn’t happen like it used to. Instead how everything transpires is Hasee Toh Phasee in a nutshell. Even though there’s a brief backstory to brief us about the temperament of sensitive Nikhil (Siddharth Malhotra) and peculiar Meeta (Parineeti Chopra), Hasee Toh Phasee doesn’t move cut to cut, it progresses gradually without letting us feel how time flies by. Like it usually happens when you’re in fascinating company.”

 

Rajeev Masand  of  CNN-IBN commented: “A young man finds himself drawn to his fiancee’s sister in the days leading up to his wedding. That ghisa pita formula gets a fresh coat of paint in ad-filmmaker Vinil Matthew’s feature debut, ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’, a not-always-convincing but seldom boring romantic comedy. For the most part, Matthew and writer Harshvardhan Kulkarni stay away from standard tropes of Bollywood love triangles, choosing quirky humor over sappy sentimentality to endear their protagonists to us.”

 

Sanjukta Sharma of Mint found merit in it. “No genre of cinema is as prolific and palliative as the Hollywood romcom—an index of our appetite for the quickie fairy tale. When the milieu is urban and somewhat damaged, it’s more abiding on the multiplex screen. Hindi cinema has produced a few successful attempts at building on this template of urban romance set in quirky families, where emotional dysfunction is malleable enough to make happy endings believable. Director Vinil Mathew‘s debut feature film, Hasee Toh Phasee, is a smart and winning feint of that formula. It is an extremely likable balance between light and shade, the sadness in his beautiful lead woman sitting happily alongside her smiles. The sugar is pleasingly granular.”

 

Shubha Shetty-Saha raved, “A sparkling fresh love story, well-written script and dialogues, and competent performances make this film a fun watch. The film’s laugh-out-loud moments make it worth the ticket price. But here comes the irony: even when Vinil is dealing with characters and a storyline that has never been thought of before, he breaks the flow to include some done-to-death song sequences that are typical of big budget love stories, as if he is afraid to venture too far with his approach. Perhaps a more confident and braver approach would have bettered this already lovely film.”

 

Mihir Fadnavis of Firstpost.com was also positive. “For a first time filmmaker, it must be a staggeringly difficult task to balance the commercial elements of Dharma Productions’ target audience and with one’s own inclination to topple them over. Everything about Hasee Toh Phasee’s script is formulaic, but Matthew manages to find a new way to tell his story, finding a uniquely humorous tone in the formula. As demos go, Hasee Toh Phasee is a superb one for Matthew, who can now join the tribe of directors who have made seamless shifts from advertising to Bollywood.”

 

Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu was more guarded. “It’s all about chemistry. What happens when you take all-about-loving-your-parents from the Karan Johar brand of cinema and try to blend it with rebellion-against-the-system from the Kashyap school? What happens when you take a generous dose of sanskaar and Shaadi rituals and add drugs and dysfunction to it? What happens when you reverse the gender types? When you make the girl an explorer, a restless geek with a drug problem and make the boy rooted to family values and commitment? What happens when the boy needs to pay the bride money to marry and the girl comes to rescue him from his routine? What happens when you take a feisty Parineeti Chopra and pair her with Sidharth Malhotra?And like most chemistry exercises, Vinil Mathew’s Hasee Toh Phasee is an experiment but a fun one at that. There’s a lot that explodes but also a little that fizzles out. Love it or hate it, you have to give it points for trying.”

 

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