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The title of Shahid Kapoor and Kriti Sanon’s latest film is far more complicated than this benign romantic comedy.

This unthreatening tale of a young man, Aryan (Kapoor), falling in love with a statuesque female android, Sifra (Sanon), goes through the motions of romance, humour, drama, and dance in a coldly clinical manner. Agreed, it’s a novel concept but the glossy sci-fi comedy, which seems eager to be packaged as a wholesome family entertainer, skips addressing real issues like why Aryan—an efficient Kapoor—would seek solace and companionship in a beautiful robot rather than a real, flawed human.

Is it loneliness driving him, or is it his fantasy of having a woman who does your bidding unquestionably that drives him to fall in love, or is it his way of escaping the insane pressure put forward by his family to marry at all costs? It’s not that the jokes don’t land, they do, but they are far too few for it to be slated as a comedy either. The movie, which had such an interesting premise, just refuses to dive deep or commit to anything real.

In the opening scenes, we are transported to a colourful, almost vanilla dystopian world where Aryan—a robotic engineer—is facing immense pressure from his loud and lovable family to marry swiftly. His single status is getting his mother’s sari in a knot and she’s eager to see him “settled” into soulless suburbia. To escape the heat, he heads to the US to spend time with his cool and beautifully preserved aunt, Dimple Kapadia, who’s also in his field. She loves him, but doesn’t think twice about using him as a lab rat as she thrusts Sifra, her woman Friday, in his direction. Aryan doesn’t realise she’s a robot and instantly falls in lust/love with her. Their first date is absolutely dreamy and perfect. Plus did we tell you that she does his bidding without question, playing out this fantasy of most men seeking partners who follow their errands blindly. Now how can any red-blooded male give up on such a sweet deal?

Tere Baaton Mein
Shahid Kapoor and Kriti Sanon in 'Tere Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya'

When he realises that his aunt was just trying to test if Sifra—an absolute looker—could pass off as a human to an unsuspecting male and her nephew, he still doesn’t cower. He is hurt, but comes up with this grand idea to transplant Sifra—who stands for Super Intelligent Female Robot Automation—into his home in Delhi, pegging her as his US-bred Indian fiancée. As far as distraction tactics go to get his nosy folks off his back about marriage, this one is a keeper. A predictable comedy of errors—with the family meeting the fake fiancé—plays out and there’s some genuine fun to be had.

Both Sanon and Kapoor are in good form in this film and nail the witty scenes deftly. Sanon as this beatific-yet-cold humanoid pushes all the right buttons in us. Her static face and staccato dialogue delivery are on point, while Kapoor as this hapless bloke infatuated with a hot bot does well. The chemistry between them is also palpable. What doesn’t stick is how a thirty-something guy is acting like a repressed hormone-charged teenager? We don’t get a backstory on why he prefers a robot to an actual flesh-blood woman with all her warts, moles, and follies. A scene, earlier on in the film, where he rebuffs his colleague as she asks him for a date doesn’t give away much either. Aryan also doesn’t seem like some nerd who was bullied either in school or is harbouring some deep trauma or anxiety, so Aryan’s love language and unconventional romantic pursuit have no real legs. But if such questions don’t bog you down and you are just there to enjoy a harmless romantic comedy with little teeth or bite, then TBMAUJ might be up your street.

Tere Baaton Mein
Kriti Sanon in 'Tere Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya'

What was also most enjoyable was Aryan’s friendship with his best mate and peer, Monty, played wonderfully by Ashish Verma. The latter appears to be in a controlling marriage, and his genuine confusion at his friend falling for a robot is utterly believable. While the film starts off on a good note, the ending is just messy. Just like how the protagonist is a commitment-phobe to reality, the director-duo also seemed to be averse to fully committing to the idea of a human falling in love with an attractive android. Their collective lovotics (the research of human-to-robot relationship) is heavily in the human’s favor. The staid ending where the android goes rogue was painfully predictable. Also, it’s perplexing that a robotic engineer, who studies AI for a living, has such less grip on the subject.

But if you are willing to overlook these bumps, then the combined good looks and star power of Kapoor and Sanon should help you put a ring on this breezy entertainer. But for others, it’s a golden concept gone tame.

Our Gulf News rating:

Film: Tere Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya

Director: Amit Joshi and Aradhana Sah

Cast: Kriti Sanon, Shahid Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Ashish Verma and Dharmendra

Stars: 2.5 out of 5