Sanjay and Aditi are a couple who work for the same company and share plush digs in Delhi. Their families are unaware of this romantic coupling and would most definitely hit the roof if they found out: Sanjay (Vikrant Massey) and Aditi (Kirti Kharbanda) are from different castes.

Eager to marry but unable to muster up the gumption it takes to put love over family, Sanjay and Aditi try to hoodwink their clans by hiring actors to play their parents. They nearly succeed with the deception until somebody wakes up in time for the third act.

In the real world, some inter-caste marriages lead to brutal killings. In the 111-minute movie, the prospect of violet reprisals haunts Sanjay and Aditi, and they weigh their options. Should they apply for a work transfer to the United States? But then what about their families?

Sanjay and Aditi are modelled on the conservative couples from 1990s Hindi films who rebelled politely and timidly. Rather than playing the cake-wanting-and-eating-too business as a rip-roaring farce, Devanshu Singh’s film treats the couple’s efforts to stay together as an observational comedy.

Manoj Kalwani’s screenplay struggles to extract humour from casteist attitudes and the willingness of elders to slaughter defiant family members. Jameel Khan and Gauahar Khan, as Sanjay and Aditi’s fake parents, are not much help in generating the laughs either.

Gauahar Khan’s Zubina is especially unconvincing as a matriarch who looks about the same age as Aditi. In a less pretentious production, much more would have been made of Zubina’s patently fake wig and youthful skin tone.

The dullness of the leads further contributes to the overall sluggishness. Vikrant Massey works harder than is required, while Jameel Khan, who is too gifted for this sort of thing, is wasted as the duplicate dad who cringes at Zubina’s hamminess. He isn’t the only one.

14 Phere (2021).