Another social comedy that misses the bus – The New Indian Express

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By Express press service

Political correctness can crop up in the strangest places. In the Telugu hit of 2017 Arjun Reddy, the lunkhead hero disparagingly calls a “fat chick” from junior college. When the film was remade in Hindi, the phrasing was changed to “healthy chick”. Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga and lead star Shahid Kapoor probably thought saying “fat chick” in a contemporary mainstream Hindi movie would be going too far. So they toned it down into a sensitive story about injecting drugs after slapping your girlfriend.

Satram Ramani’s new movie, Double XL, do not bother with such politeness. “I’m overweight,” Rajshri (Huma Qureshi) retorts, sharply chiding a groom who tries to trade euphemisms. An aspiring sports presenter from Meerut, Rajshri has her ears pricked up for cruelty, whether in the flippant dismissal of a stranger or the prolonged scoldings of her mother, who berates her daughter for not slimming down to look quite marriageable. “Tees lag gaya hai tumko (you’re thirty),” she sobbed, as if describing the onset of an illness.

With (reluctant) permission from her mother, Rajshri arrives in Delhi, hoping to land a job as a presenter on a major sports channel. She clearly deserves the gig – “That’s not what Joe Root is… It’s who…”, she corrects another hopeful – but gets rejected for being the wrong body type. There she meets Saira Khanna (Sonakshi Sinha), also in the midst of grief and plagued with body image issues. The girls decide to team up – flying to London to shoot Saira’s fashion brand travel diary, which Rajshri, a social media expert on the side, agrees to run.

Even as a “concept” film – a term almost as beloved by studio execs as “quirky” or “small town” – Double XL has a lot to offer. This follows films like Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Bala, which trivialized, even entertained, candid discussions of unrealistic beauty standards. Additionally, it features Huma and Sonakshi, popular female stars who have spoken out about rejection and body shaming in the past. In fact, a first teaser of Double XL the actresses laughed about “losing all the weight” they put on for it – a bit of witty self-awareness that I expected to find more of in the film itself.

Unfortunately, that never happens. Instead, they grapple with didactic lakeside conversations that mechanically spell out the movie’s message — without the kind of necessary comedic zing that actually wins over audiences. “Ab waqt hai, batane ka (it’s time to say),” Rajshri announces at one point, which sounds like the mantra of Bollywood screenwriters these days. Satram, perhaps losing faith in his protagonists, shifts much of the fun to the film’s two annoying male leads. Notebook’s Zaheer Iqbal is racking up screen time pulling impressions of ’90s Salman. And Mahat Raghevendra’s DOP stoner is all the drug-busting support you’ll ever need. “I want to be like PC Sreeram,” he says, barely bothering to close his lenses in the light of day.

As a late appearance from Jimmy Sheirgill lifts spirits in the second half (the one thing writer-producer Mudassar Aziz always seems to pull off), you realize Double XL is a film with no style or personality of its own. It’s kind of a one size fits all.

Film: Double XL

With: Sonakshi Sinha, Huma Qureshi, Zaheer Iqbal, Mahat Raghevendra, Alka Kaushal, Shubha Khote

Director: Satra Ramani

Rating: 2/5 stars

(This story originally appeared on Cinema Express)

Political correctness can crop up in the strangest places. In 2017’s Telugu hit Arjun Reddy, the lunkhead hero disparagingly calls a college junior “fat chick”. When the film was remade in Hindi, the phrasing was changed to “healthy chick”. Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga and lead star Shahid Kapoor probably thought saying “fat chick” in a contemporary mainstream Hindi movie would be going too far. So they toned it down into a sensitive story about injecting drugs after slapping your girlfriend. Satram Ramani’s new film, Double XL, does not bother with such politeness. “I’m overweight,” Rajshri (Huma Qureshi) retorts, sharply chiding a groom who tries to trade euphemisms. An aspiring sports presenter from Meerut, Rajshri has her ears pricked up for cruelty, whether in the flippant dismissal of a stranger or the prolonged scoldings of her mother, who berates her daughter for not slimming down to look quite marriageable. “Tees lag gaya hai tumko (you’re thirty),” she sobbed, as if describing the onset of an illness. With (reluctant) permission from her mother, Rajshri arrives in Delhi, hoping to land a job as a presenter on a major sports channel. She clearly deserves the gig – “That’s not what Joe Root is… It’s who…”, she corrects another hopeful – but gets rejected for being the wrong body type. There she meets Saira Khanna (Sonakshi Sinha), also in the midst of grief and plagued with body image issues. The girls decide to team up – flying to London to shoot Saira’s fashion brand travel diary, which Rajshri, a social media expert on the side, agrees to run. Even as a “concept” movie — a term almost as beloved by studio execs as “quirky” or “small town” — Double XL has plenty to offer. This follows films like Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Bala, which trivialized, even entertained, candid discussions of unrealistic beauty standards. Additionally, it features Huma and Sonakshi, popular female stars who have spoken out about rejection and body shaming in the past. In fact, an early Double XL teaser had the actresses laughing about “losing all the weight” they put on for it – a bit of witty self-awareness that I expected to find more in. the film. Unfortunately, that never happens. Instead, they grapple with didactic lakeside conversations that mechanically spell out the movie’s message — without the kind of necessary comedic zing that actually wins over audiences. “Ab waqt hai, batane ka (it’s time to say),” Rajshri announces at one point, which sounds like the mantra of Bollywood screenwriters these days. Satram, perhaps losing faith in his protagonists, shifts much of the fun to the film’s two annoying male leads. Notebook’s Zaheer Iqbal is racking up screen time pulling impressions of ’90s Salman. And Mahat Raghevendra’s DOP stoner is all the drug-busting support you’ll ever need. “I want to be like PC Sreeram,” he says, barely bothering to cover his lenses in the light of day. While a late appearance from Jimmy Sheirgill lifts spirits in the second half (writer-producer Mudassar Aziz always seems to pull it off), you realize Double XL is a film without style or personality of its own. It’s kind of a one size fits all. Film: Double XL Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Huma Qureshi, Zaheer Iqbal, Mahat Raghevendra, Alka Kaushal, Shubha Khote Director: Satram Ramani Rating: 2/5 stars (This story originally appeared on Cinema Express)


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