Rating: One and a half stars:
The idea of Gagan Puri’s film, Doordarsan, is delightful, but ruined in execution, probably by a small budget.
Sunil (Manu Rishi Chadda) is battling on multiple fronts—his wife Priya (Mahie Gill) wants a divorce, his landlord Goldie (Rajesh Sharma) is hoping to evict the family, his son Sunny (Shardul Rana) is obsessed with porn, his daughter Sweety (Archita Sharma) is constantly in trouble at school, and his mother Darshan (Dolly Ahluwalia) has been in a coma for 30 years. Strange, that she lies in bed with eyes open, no feeding tubes, and no nursing care!
One day, she emerges from the coma all of a sudden (no bed sores, no muscle atrophy) and the doctor advises the family not to cause her any stress till she stabilizes. For this, Sunil has to recreate 1990 in the house, beg Priya to come back so that both can pretend to be school-going kids (how is that even plausible!) and make the children pretend to be servants. A rotary phone and a black and white TV are installed (though by 1990, India had colour TV), to keep up the retro ambience. They can hide the newspaper and cell phones, but what about mirrors or other reflective surfaces in the house?
There is just one scene in which they shoot a fake news video and play it via DVD, when in 1990, Darshan would have been watching not just Chitrahaar but Rajni, Mahabharat, Udaan, Wagle Ki Duniya, Karmchand, Idhar Udhar, and other such shows popular then. Because nothing they do is convincing, the tragic-comedy of Sunil’s situation just never emerges. The potential for nostalgia (the way DD’s signature tune used to resound all over the neighbourhood), slapstick or even satire is simply not realized. The story moves to a very predictable ‘reunited family’ ending, but except for the hapless and genuinely caring Sunil, no character is developed. For humour, there is a furtive romance between Sunny and the landlord’s daughter, a needless gay gag and Sunny’s strange friend (Sumit Gulati), who supplies the porn magazines and is inadvertently responsible for the end of Darshan’s coma. Maybe more that a bigger budget, the film needed a richer imagination.