Director Bela Bhansali Sehgal, veteran music video director and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s sibling, has been waiting to make her feature film debut for a while. She starts her career with a short, sweet film that has a simple plot and some heart-warming moments.
Shirin Farhad... is quite clearly modelled on the Hrishikesh Mukherjee brand of cinema – you meet good-hearted characters, enter their lives, see them dealing with regular problems and then resolving conflicts without much ado or overt drama.
However, Sehgal tries to infuse Bollywood-y elements like romantic songs and occasional melodrama in her film about two middle-aged Parsis finding love. It’s tough to say if Sehgal intended to spoof the romantic genre as Hindi film audiences know it or stay true to it, but you wish Shirin Farhad... didn’t try too hard to conform to norms.
Shirin (Khan) and Farhad (Irani) are middle-aged individuals waiting to be bitten by the love bug.
Farhad is 45 but usually cowers in front of a dominating mother and is usually shy around people. Till he meets Shirin, who makes him feel comfortable enough to talk about his business aspirations and love for Dukes’ Mangola. Shirin is taken in by Farhad’s simplicity and good nature, and the two fall in love. But the conflict is around the corner. Like in most Hindi films, parental opposition threatens to end Shirin-Farhad’s romance abruptly.
The film has several laugh-out-loud moments, like when Shirin comes over to meet Farhad’s family for the first time, the humour consistent almost right through the film. Most of Farhad’s antics are entertaining, more so because Boman Irani makes the character come alive with little gestures and
a faultless performance. Several of his interactions with Shirin are heart-warming. At one point, Farhad spells out his matrimonial bio, as if out of habit, while expressing his love for her. “Name: Farhad, Age: 45,” and so on, before proclaiming: “First love: Shirin. Last love: Shirin.”
Farah Khan is best when she’s not acting, her persona suiting the role. Sehgal’s film seems a lot better than it is due to the performance of the two actors and the chemistry between them. A number of Parsi actors like Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, Kurush Deboo, etc, lend the film a real vibe.
My favourite is Shammiji, the veteran actor seen on the big screen after a long time. As Farhad’s grandmother and confidante, Shammiji is endearing and her scenes with Irani are memorable.
Among the things that ail the film is the inconsistent writing (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) that oscillates between simple and simplistic, its TV serial-like production values and unwanted music. Every song is unnecessary and slows down the narrative. The Parsi humour is funny most of the time, but the constant stereotyping gets jarring at places.
At under two hours, Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi demands little of you and delivers enough for you to not grudge spending time and money on it. I suggest you watch it for some honest moments and a lovable performance by Boman Irani.