It wouldn't be exaggerated to say every third film in Bollywood would be centered around Punjabis. Filmdom's fascination to the loud up to the point of being raucous, booze gulping, song and dance loving colourful Punjabis never ceases to exist. With umpteen films on similar backdrops it's really rare to witness some freshness. Does the Chandigarh based Mere Dad Ki Maruti (MDKM) end up being that rare film? Let's find out.
Tej Khullar (Ram Kapoor) is a close-fisted, penny-pinching Punjabi father who is putting together a big fat Punjabi wedding for his beloved daughter Tanvi so much so that he even buys a swanky new Maruti Ertiga to gift her as a wedding present. However, his rebellious yet happy go lucky son Sameer (Saqib Saleem) totally detests his father's indulgence on her alone. The story unfolds when Sameer steals his dad's new car meant for his elder sister in order to impress the Shakira of Chandigarh Jazzleen (Rhea Chakraborty) and in turn ends up losing the car altogether!
Mere Dad Ki Maruti isn't one of those endlessly going on Indian movies that run for 2.5-3hours. With 101 minutes to be precise MDKM is short and doesn't bore you. So is the case with its story too. Filmmaker Ashima Chibber who has been assistant director in films like Ab Tak Chappan, Chak De! India and Rockstar, doesn't take a multi-layered story for her debut project. MDKM is a very small situational comedy that doesn't boast of too many complications.
Chibber's ace comes in her writing. Having combined with a team of talented writers like Pooja Desai, Neeraj Udhwani and Ishita Moitra, Ashima puts across some witty, humorous and heartwarming one liners that keep you interested in the plot. The humour is certainly not slapstick, neither would it make you laugh out loud but it's enough to engage the mass. The writing is very new age and can instantly connect with the youth for example, "Isko na main slide karke unlock kar dunga!", "Hashtag K thanks bye!" or "Mere matthe pe C likhiya hai?"
Chibber also scores in the backdrop. The nuances of a middle-class Punjabi family from Chandigarh are very well etched out and don't appear caricaturish at all. Even the setting is as realistic as it can get.
Where the film lacks is the plot. Courtesy a wafer-thin plot, the confusion of the stolen car gets too repetitive and forced after a point leading to a stretched screenplay. Also there's ample predictability in the story hence no surprising factor as well.
However, the actors completely cover up for the flaws of the film. Ram Kapoor is perfect as the stingy, loud Punjabi father who keeps calling Sameer various names like "Patthe da ullu", "Useless burger" etc. Saqib Saleem who left a mark in his debut film Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge is impressive as the good for nothing, bumbling and rebellious young brat. There couldn't be a more apt casting than Rhea Chakraborty for the role of Jazzleen. She is perfect as the hoity-toity Punjabi kudi from Chandigarh. The surprise package is Sameer's friend Gattu (Prabal Punjabi). He is hilarious and also mouths some of the funniest one-liners in the film. Ravi Kissen as the villainous Pathan is totally wasted.
To sum it up, Mere Dad Ki Maruti may not be a laugh riot or even a path breaking comedy but it can make for a decent watch for the popcorn cinema loving audience.