Shukranu: Feature Film Review
“ZEE5’s Shukranu, starring Divyenndu Sharma, is a humorous take on the sterilization drive during the Emergency era, revolving around one young man who was forcefully sterilized days before his wedding. Is it worth your while? Find out in this review.”
Set in the backdrop of the Emergency Rule in the late 1970s, Shukranu is a satirical film that follows the journey of a young man, Inder, who is forcefully sterilized under the population control initiative by the government just days before his wedding.
Shukranu sheds light on one of the darkest phases in the history of post-independence India. In a format where a social drama meets situational comedy meets satire, the creators have managed to portray the forced sterilization drive in the 70s without crossing any lines.
Divyenndu Sharma is promising in the tragicomic role as Inder, a young man who is too ashamed to admit about his vasectomy, and feels lonely and vulnerable amidst all the wedding-related fanfare surrounding him. Divyenndu plays Inder with much conviction, immersing well into the bygone era with his body language, dressing style, looks, etc. and keeping the situation believable yet light-hearted.
The two leading ladies, Shweta Basu Prasad and Sheetal Thakur, are convincing in their roles as Inder’s love interests. Shweta gets a meatier part as Inder’s traditional wife, Reema, allowing her to play a range of emotions. Sheetal appears in a rather contrasting role as Inder’s old flame, Akriti, a modern and confident Delhi girl. Both, however, maintain their chemistry with Divyenndu’s character well. Aakash Dabhade, too, deserves a mention for his genuinely hilarious performance as Inder’s friend. He adds a different shine to some otherwise dull moments.
The storyline retains your interest by keeping you invested into knowing what happens with Inder at the end. The short duration works mostly in its favor. The setting depicts the simplicity of the 1970s with efficacy, and the music adds more flavor to the overall mood in the story.
The film comes off as a sort of infotainment (a portmanteau of information and entertainment) – exploring not just the brutal sterilization drive which affected tens of thousands of men, but also dispelling myths surrounding vasectomy, without comprising on entertainment. Themes such as male anxieties, shame, and vulnerability, are also depicted sensitively. Another positive is that victims of the forced procedure are not callously mocked, but rather the way the situation turns out for Inder forms the source of comedy.
Shukranu emerges as a well-balanced film that maintains equilibrium between its hilarity and the hefty emotional theme that it intends to portray. The central concept is brought to screen with just the right amount of humour stirred within.
After a flurry of predictable amusements and hysterics, the surprising twist at the very end leaves you in splits, and this appropriate and hilarious finish somehow makes you forget the various aspects where the movie failed to hit the mark.
A major flaw with Shukranu is the story’s predictability. The sequence of events become obvious, leaving little room for twists that can awe viewers or have the required impact in terms of shock or comedy. The increasing routineness leads to an unsurprising narrative.
Shukranu does not take risks with its comedy and sticks to tried-and-tested laughter riots, which have been too outdated and overused to be as hilarity-inducing as they once were. The writing leaves gaping holes in the story’s flow at times. Case in point is the twist where the love between Inder and his old flame Akriti rekindles after he moves back to the city. We’re only delivered an end (i.e., the two suddenly being together), skipping the build-up process entirely.
The film is too focused on Inder and his escapades to explore Shweta Basu Prasad’s Reema She is not only underutilized, but the film does not care much about her point of view either, only using her to further Inder’s arc.
Shukranu, although novel in its backdrop, offers nothing new in terms of content or comedy. The backdrop itself is merely used to provide a push to the story, only brought up as a plot device where convenient. The impact is half-lost within the escapism of a drama laden with a dilemmatic Janus-faced romance.
Entertaining performances and a novel concept make Shukranu a good one-time watch, saving the film from being the cause of its own demise.
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