Apr 21, 2012
Vicky Donor is my kind of movie: Mental, gentle and sentimental. A loud, bright, balle-balle party of all things Indian, err, mostly north Indian and its gobsmacked eastern cousins, the film embraces everything that matters in the land of five rivers — Biji to bauji, mummyji to destinyji, soni Bong kudi to whiskey, and all prejudices to many peculiarities.
Many directors are devoted to making rollicking comedies, mostly because it is the easiest route to box-office bliss. But there are few writers and directors who make comedies that stay with us longer than the taste of the salty popcorn. Priyadarshan, David Dhawan and Anees Bazmi in his past lives, but especially Basu Chatterjee, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar and Sai Paranjape. Their characters were real people in real situations. We identified with these nicely naive men and women — their problems seemed plausible and we were constantly worried that they’d harm themselves.
Director Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor, written by Juhi Chaturvedi, is smart and cheeky. It doesn’t just give us characters we can identify with and laugh at. It makes us laugh at ourselves.
Chaturvedi and Sircar take our little quirks and big biases, our silly mannerisms and big stereotypes and the way we have kidnapped the English language and beaten it into submission, and invest all this in flesh-and-blood people with real emotions and syappe.
The film’s story itself is hysterical. Vicky Arora (Ayushmann Khurrana), son of Dolly Arora (Dolly Ahluwalia), lives in the refugee colony of Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, where narrow, tall houses lean on each other as if fearing another Partition.
Dolly, a lonely, busy widow, runs a beauty parlour and fights with Biji (Kamlesh Gill), her widowed mother-in-law, like only a daughter can. They both have immense respect (pronounced rspaact) for each other and get together at night with a bottle of… Suffice to say, this scene loudly belches at all sniffy notions of Western emancipation, and it’s too damn smashed to care.
Vicky, a Bhagat Singh College graduate, helps out at home lazily, snogs Pepsi Aunty’s daughter when he’s drunk, plays cricket, and when Dolly is short-staffed does threading, waxing and manicure-pedicure. He hangs out at malls in the day, and spends evenings in a bar. Nothing serious, just aivain.
Across town, in Darya Ganj, sits Dr Baldev Chaddha (Annu Kapoor), in his infertility clinic, dealing with childless couples, their frustrations and dreams, and always on the lookout for quality sperm. Moms want model sperm, dads want sperm with impressive batting average. Dr Chaddha wants a virile Arya-putra whose sperm, when planted, will deliver.
One day he spots Vicky who is trying to get rid of his mummyji’s useless pomeranian and smells healthy, Aryan-race sperm. Dr Chaddha stalks him, tells him there is good money to be made from this good deed. But Vicky is repelled by this “non-veg kaam”. He doesn’t want to become papa, even if it’s just technically.
So Dr Chaddha challenges Vicky’s sperm. Vicky responds like a true Punjabi and rises to the challenge. He receives lots of money, and when babies are born, gifts arrive at home. A batti-inch Sony TV for Biji, pink makeover for Dolly’s parlour, fridge, curtains, car, vagehra.
Vicky decides it’s time to move his account from the local no-ATM bank to the “Can I help you?” posh variety. So he goes and plonks himself in front of Ashima Roy (Yaami Gautam), looks at her name plate and asks, “Tussi Bong ho ji?”
From here the movie goes where it is supposed to, but in a sharp style and with the sort of masti that is rare.
Ashima is a sweet, soulful English-speaking Chittaranjan Park girl whose father is ’orried sick about his daughter marrying a Punjabi. He sees a life with no culture, no education, no fish, only show-off and, of course, a loud wedding and lots of drinking.
Dolly is in distress about a Bengali bahu who, she is certain, has a dominating nature, is small-minded and cooks and eats smelly fish day and night.
Parochial chauvinism that we all nurture and keep in FD for special occasions comes tumbling out, but is stumped by Biji’s virtuoso performance. The wedding takes place — with drinks in a car dickey and nachna-tapna till the tentwallas are weeping to go home. This entire segment has several India moments where you feel a little teary and in love with India.
After the interval, I was a bit concerned about how this movie is going to end, and I am happy to report that it ends like all Indian outings do — in happy jhappiyan and pappiyan.
Director Sircar takes a taboo, almost icky subject, and presents it with maturity and humour in an intimate, cosy world where Sharme, Balle and Chopre suffer duffers and have hangovers.
His Vicky Donor grabs every desi cliché in sight and cracks them open to reveal that Western definitions of what’s liberal, progressive and modern, and their classification of gender and sexuality are not just different from ours, but that we are, often, way cooler. Even in Lajpat Nagar.
And beneath all of Vicky Donor’s jhalla-pan, crude behaviour and constant assault on the English language, dwell tender, rooted people with quaint wisdom and values who form the emotional core of the film. They move us to tears of sadness and joy.
Each character has been carved with care, and Juhi Chaturvedi’s dialogues — lassan (garlic) is an abuse, and the opposite of respect is irrespective – for which three languages are mauled and meshed, lift even routine scenes, interactions.
Dolly Ahluwalia and Kamlesh Gill are simply superb; Jayanta Das and Swaroopa Ghosh are very good. Yaami Gautam is pretty and efficient, but she is given a screaming scene which seemed over the top. Also, her weeping would put all telly saas-bahus to shame.
What can I say about Annu Kapoor, except, welcome back sirji. Hope you’ll stay for dinner and after drinks. He has first-rate dialogues and delivers each one with straass on one vowel that may or may not be present. His involuntary two-finger upstream swimming action every time he utters the word sperm is very funny.
The surprise item here is Ayushmann Khurrana. He inhabits Vicky the danveer sperm proudly. Vicky’s unease with English doesn’t for a second dissuade him from courting the Bong kudi, and he naturally creates a hierarchy in the relationship where he sits happily below Ashima because it’s what he’s done all his life, with Biji and mummyji.
Vicky Donor has great songs. Mika’s Pichche pe gaya sadde Chaddha adds to what’s happening on the screen, and Rum, rum, rum, rum, O whiskey will henceforth be played at all Punjabi weddings for the pleasure of drunk unclejis. Note the song sung by Ayushmann — it’s very nice.
I felt truly energised by Vicky Donor, and am glad that producer John Abraham took a risk with his money.