Life is such. Aur thoda jhooth bhi. Unveiling six different facets of urban relationships Kaali Peeli Tales leaves us with a smile, and some puzzles too.
Why the black-and-yellow taxi leitmotif in each story? It looks forced. Cabbie cabbie mere dil mein khayal aata hai… The whole taxi business could have been easily set aside and these stories would have still conveyed a pungent flavour of lives well lived, and loved.
The first story Harra Bharra features a likeable divorced couple Vinay Pathak (why do we see so little of him?) and Soni Razdan reuniting to meet their only daughter's (Kavya Thapar) soon-to-be husband and his parents over dinner. Pathak and Razdan are so easy-going together that one wonders why they got divorced in the first place. Also, there is a bit too much of the so-what-if-we-are-divorced-we-are-still-a-family spirit at work here, considering the boyfriend never shows up with his family.
Nonetheless there is a sense of breezy euphoria prevalent in Harra Bharra as too in the story Marriage 2.0 where Manvi Gagroo and Hussain Dalaal are delightful as a working class couple checking out other partners. Just for some kicks. This story moves at a steady pace. The dialogues specially at dinner in a restaurant flows freely creating a prankish momentum that leaves us smiling if not chuckling.
Though it is always a joy to see the underused Sayani Gupta sink her teeth into a challenging role, the challenge in the story Single Jhumka is to actually admire her character’s honesty after she confesses to her devoted if a wee pre-occupied boyfriend(Bhuvan Arora) that the one-night-stand she has with a pseudo-artiste (Priyanshu Painyuli, underused) had actually helped cement her relationship with her boyfriend. Really?
Unconvincing and unevenly spaced Single Jhumka (apparently losing and finding one of a pair of jhumka signifies something about rediscovering the mojo in a doddering relationship) is still more engaging than Love In Tadoba where Inayat Sood and the anthology’s director Adeeb Rais play a blogger and an influencer, respectively. What could have been an engaging battle between the sincere and ersatz aspects of the social media, turns into an endless pursuit of one upmanship between the couple accompanied by endless eye-rolling and hashtagging.
And when the two finally get into a taxi (cabbie khushi cabbie gham) and smooch after a heated argument the taxidriver who needs to be slapped hard,squeals to his wife over the phone, “Donon pappi ley rahe hain…wohwala.” Good heavens. Overcute undercooked.
The two strongest stories in this amiable anthology are Fish Fry Aur Coffee and Loose Ends. In the first, two newly-released jailbirds try to make peace with their past. While Gaurav Arora’s sultry rejection of his loyal girlfriend’s overtures rings hollow, Sharib Hashmi and Sadiya Siddiqui are superb as a couple rediscovering love when it is too late. Their sudden furtive kiss is the most spontaneous moment in the entire anthology.
The best most cogent story of the collection Loose Ends has a closeted gay married man(Tanmay Dhanania) struggling to tell his pregnant wife (Gauahar Khan, wasted) about his aggressively uncloseted boyfriend (Siddharth Menon). Boyfriend has no qualms about being openly gay. This makes the closeted man’s dilemma all the more glaring. This story conveys a smooth-flowing rhythm even as it comes to its predictable conclusion.
And yes, there is the ubiquitous kaali-peeli cab at the end. That apart, the anthology has enough scattered moments of tenderness to make us overlook the glaring inconsistencies. The characters seem to understand the nature of their problem, though they are not always able to do anything about it. They may be let down by the screenplay. But somehow they seem to find a way out.
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