Reema Kagti's debut movie as director is another one of those middling, passable films that have lots of promise, but fail to build up on their strengths. It's frustrating to see such amount of hard work go waste just because the filmmakers didn't try to reach that extra bit. In the case of Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., it is the sub par screenplay and the reluctance to go that extra mile that hurts its chances of being a solid entertainer.
The film has got a solid cast of likable and interesting characters – there's a Bengali couple comprising of a buttoned-down husband (Menon) and a wife who wants to spread her wings (Sen); a perfect Parsi couple, young and in love, who never fight (Deol and Lamba); and a Gujarati arranged-married pair where the husband (Shorey) can't get the new bride (Mirza) to open up to him. Also, there's the Delhi-ite – boisterous and filmy and very much in love with the idea of marriage (Patel) – and her husband who may be confused in his sexual orientation (Khanna).
Another couple is made up of an NRI Sikh (Chatwal) and a bindaas
Mumbai girl (Mridul) who met through the Internet, and the last is the elderly duo, both on their second marriages after their spouses died (Irani and Azmi). To add to the already burgeoning list of characters, there is the bus driver and his nephew, and a mysterious motorcyclist following all of them from Mumbai.
The first mistake Kagti makes is by thinking that having an interesting milieu for the cast and giving them some local accents or dialogues to speak is a better substitute for a solid plot. Each of the characters have some back stories and some secrets that may threaten to change the dynamics of their relationships. All of these are treated as important reveals to be protected from the audience till the end, while only giving them hints to savor. Which is all well and good, but that leaves little for the characters to do or say until the turning point in their stories appear.
It's not that it's a badly made film where the director has no idea how to balance six separate couples
. From the first day of the honeymoon, the stories begin to unravel, and this continues till the honeymoon package ends. It's a short and leanly made urbane flick, and that helps it immensely. Every character gets the screen-time necessary for his or her story, and not too much effort is wasted on filling the hours and inserting random gags.
Also, the acting overall is top notch. Kay Kay Menon has the strongest story, couples wise, and also the most immediately recognizable characterization. He plays his role with his usual earnestness, as does Boman Irani, who is having a blast in his role as an old but newly married guy. He’s paired with Shabana, and the couple explore loneliness and the rediscovery of life with subtle performances suited to the roles. Shorey is as usual excellent, and I can't believe that he is still treated this shabbily by filmmakers and given a 5-minute role that anyone could have done.
Everybody else does at least an acceptable job, and it helps that most of the roles are of the light breezy variety, not requiring any serious histrionics. The well cast, if not always suitably utilized, characters are used almost entirely to shoulder the screenplay's absence. The resolutions are not always well-staged, and the secrets, when revealed, do not have the requisite impact. While the dialog is fresh and crisp in most places, the background score is absolutely appalling. Sidhwani, Akhtar and Excel Entertainment have stuck to using sync sound as always, but need to master its proper use yet.
However ridiculous the script may have been, Kagti has strength in her direction skills, and shows immense promise in most of the character beats. She seems to have absolutely no control over the production, but her understanding of the characterizations she employs is strong. This is a film that definitely entertains for the 2 hours it lasts, but is not a substantial film, nevertheless.
Kagti and her team do not reach out to make the most of the potential the interesting bunch of characters and the crackerjack setting provide, and the stories remain tepid by the time they end. Even a dash of the superhuman – yes, superhuman – does not help in the end.
*Sigh*. This is the third film I have watched this week that squanders the possibilities of being great, and instead contends itself with being merely halfway decent. It lacks the hunger to become another Khosla Ka Ghosla
, though it does pretend to be one. Go for a half decent time, but don't expect to be guffawing out of the film theater.