It must be a secret fantasy of many a male in metrosexual clothing – a woman who is beautiful and sexy, can cook well, talk sports, read his moods, anticipate his needs, obey him without question, and more importantly have no demands or desires of her own. If such a woman actually exists, she must be a robot, which is the idea writer-director duo Amit Joshi and Aradhana Sah have picked for the tongue-twistingly titled Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya.
The writer-directors have mixed elements of sci-fi, romcom and family drama and hoped the blend works, even with its overall silliness.
Classic science fiction needs suspension of belief, even as it creates a world that is believable as a glimpse of the future. The world being taken over by robots or computers has always been a popular sci-fi trope, sounded as a warning of letting science tamper with the natural order of things. TBMAUJ experiments with the technology of the future.
The American creator of such humanoids, Urmila (Dimple Kapadia), sees their function as caregivers and companions for the lonely. Little does she anticipate her techie nephew Aaryan (Shahid Kapoor) falling in love with her Super Intelligent Female Robot Automation or Sifra (Kirti Sanon).
Back in Delhi, Aaryan is constantly being hounded by his large, noisy family to get married. The clan is thrilled with Sifra’s beauty and accomplishments – she can cook for a dozen people in no time.
Here, the directors mine some humour from Sifra’s tendency to take everything literally and act accordingly. But the absurdity of the situation, or the attendant risks of letting loose a robot in an unfamiliar and overcrowded setting, is oversimplified and introduced much too late into the 143-minute narrative.
There have been dozens of human-robot romance films, including Making Mr Right, Ex Machina, Her and Eva. The poignant Lars And The Real Girl examines the mental state of a man who treats a doll as a human.
TBMAUJ does not go into anything complex. The conflict in Aaryan’s love story is that the woman is not human – were she from a different culture or ethnic group, the difficulties would not be very different from what the film has portrayed. The plot had much more comic or even horror potential than what the directors have been able to tap. Some credit to them for at least attempting the sci-fi genre.
Shahid Kapoor is made to play Aaryan as arrogant and somewhat foolish – scrape the veneer and a Kabir Singh emerges, who likes his women to be submissive; when things don’t go according to his fairy tale, he is thrown. Kriti Sanon has fun playing the robot – her malfunctioning scenes are hilarious. Senior stars such as Dharmendra (as the grandfather) and Dimple Kapadia are lost in the crowd, but it is good to see Hindi cinema cast a woman as a pioneering scientist.