“Nirodh” is as synonymous with condoms in India as “Xerox” is with photocopying. In the Zee5 comedy Helmet, the government-manufactured contraceptive gets serious competition from a fake brand invented by a wedding singer desperate to marry his sweetheart.
The latest movie to use the device of boisterous comedy to tackle a delicate social problem is aptly set in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state. Lucky (Aparshakti Khurana) isn’t considered good enough for Rupali (Pranutan Bahl). Her father (Ashish Vidyarthi) is threatening to get her married to a wealthy non-resident Indian. If Rupali is shattered over the turn of events, she barely shows it.
Lucky resolves to get rich and quick. Together with his friends Sultan (Abhishek Banerjee) and Minus (Ashish Verma), Lucky steals a truck of boxes that contains condoms rather than the promised mobile phones. Overnight, Lucky becomes his town’s marketing maven, taking his product to consumers rather than waiting for them to come to him and coming up with a pyramid scheme that benefits every level.
Supply, rather than demand, is the problem, suggests Satramm Ramani’s movie, which sometimes resembles a fanciful B-school marketing case study. You can apparently drag a horse to the water and expect it to drink gratefully. The condoms, sold by the helmet-wearing trio of friends to protect their identities, fly off the shelves with so much force that you wonder what the problem was in the first place.
Ours is not so ask why. The sincere message – condoms protect against unwanted births and sexually transmitted diseases – is delivered with matching sincerity by Ramani, the team of writers and the cast. By keeping the bar low and maintain a steady supply of loud jokes, Ramani and company strive to make condoms acceptable and even cool. Just how this happens, however, remains a puzzle.
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