Deep and Zoya have it all. The professional stand-up comedy couple have perfect timing on the stage and beyond it. Their career is on the up and their sex life is sizzling.
It’s a matter of time before circumstances – and impatient screenwriters – pull the golden couple apart. Forced out of their house and unable to find a new one because they are not married, Deep (Saqib Saleem) and Zoya (Shweta Basu Prasad) briefly endure a separation. He moves in with a permanently stoned friend who walks around in his underwear. She relocates to a friend’s. They finally find a massive apartment with an endless number of rooms. Deep has an uncle who will arrange a fake marriage certificate. Once again, it’s all good.
But the moving finger that wants to nudge the plot forward writes again. Zoya tells Deep that the only solution is to actually get married. He treats it like the professional arrangement it is, to ensure that their stand-up act isn’t interrupted and conservative landlords are kept at bay.
Nachiket Samant’s 115-minute film on Zee5 is based on a story by Bikas Ranjan Mishra and a screenplay by a bunch of writers. Comedy Couple is as contrived as a fake personal anecdote told on the stage to raise laughs. As Zoya comes to terms with Deep’s tendency to dissemble, and as he grapples with his parents (who conveniently drop in for a visit), the film goes from being a potentially interesting study of comedians co-creating material to a dull romcom about manufactured differences.
The bar for humour beyond the stage is low. Rajesh Tailang plays Deep’s huffing-puffing father, while Zoya’s mother is played by Pooja Bedi, an artist who likes to paint male nudes. Toilet humour is supplied by the weed-smoking friend and by a cow urine seller who is outraged at one of the comedy pair’s gags.
The stand-up setting proves to be nothing more than a variation on similar situations in the movies. Comedy Couple sticks close to the advice of the duo’s business manager: don’t crack religious or political jokes, but do swear because the audience likes it. Zoya and Deep could have been actors or singers, and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
The movie is salvaged by excellent chemistry between and sincere performances by Saqib Saleem and Shweta Basu Prasad. They have a sweet and believable vibe going, and in a film with less lazy writing and better gags, their efforts would have actually amounted to something.