I enjoyed the original 1980s ‘Khubsoorat’ starring Rekha charming, with her long swinging pigtails as she sang ‘Sun sun sun didi’. So a reboot of a film about a misfit falling in love with the son of a bossy matriarch seemed like a good idea. That is until writer Indira Bisht reinvented its screenplay.
Version 2014, ‘Khoobsurat’, is a showcase for Sonam Kapoor’s mismatched wardrobe, Kirron Kher’s oft-seen over the top Punjabi mother, a platform for Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan and a parody of all people Punjabi.
As obvious shout-outs to the original Hrishikesh Mukherjee film, Kher is named Manju (after Rekha’s character) and Ratna Pathak is cast as the stern, disciplinarian royal matriarch in deference to her mother Dina Pathak’s role as Nirmala Gupta in the original.
Sonam Kapoor plays Dr. Milli Chakravarty, a physiotherapist assigned to rehabilitate a wheelchair-bound Rajasthani royal, Shekhar Rathore (Aamir Raza Hussain). Milli is shown as a bumbling, misfit displaying a complete bimbo-like cluelessness about basic decorum. Forget lady-like and demure, she milks her Punjabiness to the max drinking, singing and dancing with the royal staff, working out in revealing outfits on the well-manicured lawns of the palace and referring to the prince Vikram as ‘Vikku’. Bizarrely, all this begins to soften Prince Vikram’s (Fawad Khan) heart that has thus far been promised to Kiara (Aditi Rao Hydari), a two-scene fiancée.
A string of contrived scenes set up the love story: him teaching her to shoot a gun, him introducing her to the best roadside chai, she giving him insightful business advice. In spite of Milli being stupid enough to fall for a poster that invites women to audition for the part of a leading lady in a film to be directed by Julia Roberts (say what?), the seemingly smart Vikram falls for her unconventional and honest ways.
While the opulence of royal life is well presented, in one obvious gaffe, the unmarried duo is shown sharing the royal suite in another king’s palace – an arrangement that would never be suggested or allowed by any person of royal standing. It’s almost as if these Rajputs had never permitted a normal city person to enter their grand palaces.
Though Khan shows smouldering promise, the script does not offer him enough scenes to fully show what he’s got. Ratna Pathak, as the frosty mother, and Aamir Raza Hussain as the king with a quirky sense of humour, pitch in with enjoyable performances.
Sonam Kapoor tries her darnedest to be the cutesy, spontaneous girl who could melt the hardest heart. But her Milli is permanently excitable (and gets drunk far too often). Even though her clothes are a mishmash of patterns and colours, somehow her make up is always perfect, and her intentions always good. And that seems enough for her to win over the prince and his family.
Director Shashanka Ghosh (‘Quick Gun Murugan’) crafts a few fun scenes but for the most past it appears as if he is grappling with this asinine material. And the absence of chemistry between the leads further hampers the credibility of this ‘fairytale romance’ where nothing is left to the imagination and every thought is spelt out, quite literally.
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