Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania is deconstructed Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayange, the iconic 1995 blockbuster starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. The ingredients from the original cult romance are all intact but director Shashank Khaitan has given a modern spin to the classic. Traditionalists may mock at his attempt, while the adventurous ones may embrace his tweaked (read trivialised) version. It’s the cinematic equivalent of de-constructing a faultless Indian curry such as murgh makhani (butter chicken). And the question of the hour is why re-create a faultless curry that could be perfection on a plate if the recipe is followed to the last letter.
But full marks to the first-time director for attempting to re-interpret a classic that glorified first love and large-hearted lovers who took home the bride, family approval and all. It was entertaining in parts.
First things first, Varun Dhawan is no Shah Rukh Khan. Note to Dhawan: wearing a leather jacket like Raj (Khan in DDLJ) and laying on that impish charm doesn’t make you a girl magnet. To put it not-so-gently, Khan was a man in DDLJ, while Dhawan is just a boy. He plays Humpty (he didn’t really stand a chance with a nickname like that), the large-hearted, uncomplicated Delhi boy. Just like Raj, he is not the brightest bulb in his classroom. To secure better grades, he thinks hanging his professor from a tree and blackmailing him to fudge his marks would do the trick (At this point, the viewer will be able to gauge the collective intelligence running among the actors in this film). He is in his teacher’s garden when he runs into his professor’s niece Kavya Pratap Singh (Alia Bhatt). She is the modern-day Simran (Kajol in DDLJ), a feisty girl from a Punjabi household in Ambala in Haryana.
Unlike Simran, she isn’t conservative and shy. She’s beer-guzzler and her tattoo on her neck that says ‘pataka’, meaning firecracker, gives you a proof of her temperament and her personality. Bhatt is a treat to watch and manages to add pizzazz into a stereotype-addled character. Kavya is a twenty-something girl who dreams of marrying in a designer Manish Malhotra lehenga (full skirt and bodice). She may not know which college her fiance went to or what his interests are, but her energies are trained towards convincing her conservative parents to buy her an exorbitant trousseau. They refuse, she sulks and heads off to Delhi to fulfil her dream of buying her fantasy trousseau (what did I tell you about their collective intelligence quotient?). There she meets Humpty (a name that he got stuck with because he was an overweight kid), a smooth-talking college student.
She tells him her desire about getting hitched in her designer dress and he swears to help her out. But what they didn’t bargain for was to fall hopelessly in love. The film isn’t as boring as the way the plot reads now. The credit goes to Bhatt and Dhawan for injecting life into a love story that has been beautifully told in DDLJ. Just like Raj, Humpty decides to convince Kavya’s parent’s that he’s the guy for their daughter. Ashutosh Rana is Kavya’s fierce, conservative dad in dire need of anger-management classes. Humpty’s plans of slyly winning over her folks by not revealing his identity is thwarted right from the beginning. That was a welcome change from the original DDLJ. Plus, emotions and drama is dramatically toned down in HSKD.
The story is predictable, but this film is made watchable primarily because of Bhatt and Dhawan. This film may not go down as the biggest romance of 2014, but it’s not fair to write it off either.
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Ashutosh Rana and Siddharth Shukla
Director: Shashank Khaitan
Stars: 3 out of 5