Rating: Three stars
In Raj Mehta’s dramedy, Good Newwz, the why not adopt question is met with the conservative “apna khoon” answer. So two women desperate to have children, perhaps more because of pressure from families than any uncontrollable maternal instinct, go through IVF and a mix-up at the clinic ends in comic chaos.
The first half has entertainment journalist Deepti (Kareena Kapoor Khan—dressed in designer chic), pressuring her car-dealer husband Varun Batra (Akshay Kumar) into performing on call, which makes him compare sex to a “surgical strike” (all the best bits are in the trailer). Seven years of marriage have produced no offspring, and the well-meaning advice and taunts of relatives are like arrows in Deepti’s heart.
They are advised to visit a fertility clinic run by the Dr. Joshi couple (Adil Hussain-Tisca Chopra), and are promised “good news.” There is mention of the emotional and financial cost to the procedure but that is not the area the script (Jyoti Kapoor) wants to get into. The other Batras who enter the picture– Honey (Diljit Dosanjh), and his wife Monica (Kiara Advani)– are well off Chandigarh residents who have opted for the same procedure.
When the implant is done, the doctors discover a sperm exchange, which means Deepti ends up carrying Honey’s baby and Monica has Varun’s. In a patriarchal society that is a major problem; the supposedly sophisticated Varun is bothered much more that Honey, and demands that Deepti undergo an abortion, while Honey is just so pleased at impending fatherhood that he is willing to raise both kids.
The film switches to city slicker versus small town hick mode, as Varun looks down his nose at the loud Honey and his sweet wife, who mispronounce English words. He is aghast when they move into the same building and crash into their home, without a by-your-leave, carrying gifts and good cheer.
When this class war runs out of steam too, there is another turn to melodrama, which simply extends the film’s running time without adding much to the already existing turmoil. In the end, what the film bats for is acceptance of the ‘other’ and women’s right to choose, since they are the ones going through the nine-month ordeal—though it’s a bit much for Deepti guilt-tripping her husband who wasn’t craving a child in the first place.
In a Karan Johar production, the characters have to live in lavish homes and wear fancy clothes—though the Chandigarh Batras’ taste runs to shiny velour—and the performances are on point, with Diljit Dosanjh bringing in so much energy that you miss him when he is not on screen. Akshay Kumar is getting better with each film, and does not mind the greys showing, since he is playing a character presumably in the late thirties. Kareena Kapoor glows through the film and Kiara Advani manages the required innocence to her part—in only one scene between the two women does she even give a small glimpse of the suffering she has gone through for the sake of motherhood.
Good Newwz is not a flawless film, but in keeping with Bollywood’s current trend of being upfront about sexual matters, this one merrily throws about words that people would choke on in polite conversation and renders them unobjectionable. So after menstruation (Pad Man), ovulation is out of the closet.