Tabu, who headlines the cast of Toh Baat Pakki! , is the main selling point of this film. However, it is Sharman Joshi who makes the greatest impact as the rejected suitor. Tabu plays Rajeshwari, a meddling, gossipy, headstrong wife, mother and elder sister determined to find the perfect match for her younger sister Nisha (Yuvika Choudhary). Rajeshwari is the quintessentially passive-aggressive woman, living in a hill station with her henpecked husband Surinder (Ayub Khan), two children and an empty room for which she wants a tenant.
The room soon becomes a testing ground for the most suitable boy. The first candidate—final-year engineering student Rahul Saxena (Joshi)—falls madly in love with Nisha and seems an ideal match, until the arrival of Yuvraj Saxena (Vatsal Seth). Yuvraj is a junior manager with a company car and is earmarked for a company house. Rahul is ousted as Rajeshwari decides that Yuvraj is the right husband for Nisha. Will Rahul and Nisha accept this change of plan and will they be able to stand up to the domineering—and a tad scary—Rajeshwari? Will the timid and benign Nisha, who does nothing but sing bhajans and speak of social service, assert herself?
The suitable boy: Sharman Joshi (left) and Tabu in Toh Baat Pakki!
The set-up should have lent itself to some hilarious scenes but the script fails to lift spirits. The humour verges on the pedestrian.
Director Kedarh Shinde and his writers attempt to craft a typical Bollywood wedding saga, but Toh Baat Pakki! is devoid of the emotions and histrionics of those family dramas. Instead it feels like a TV soap opera with a big budget, but with all the soap staples—overdone editing and sound effects, et al.
In an attempt to portray Indian values and comments on society, the story speaks of dowry, respect for elders and even makes a reference to daughters being as good as sons. Tabu pulls off her part with gusto, managing to evoke some amount of dread and dislike from the audience. But the role hardly challenges an actor of her calibre as Maqbool or The Namesake did. Joshi is well cast in a part that lends itself to his understated charm. Seth is given little opportunity to impress, while Khan and Choudhary are saddled with weak characters.
The music, cinematography (some seriously strange shot-taking) and dialogue burden an already overloaded script. The film plods along at such a laborious pace that you feel like you’ve been forced to suffer through the seven-day wedding celebration of a long-distance relative. The climax shows hints of Priyadarshan-style chaos, with many random characters making unnecessary appearances. When Rajshri Productions meets Priyadarshan, it’s anything but a match made in heaven.
Toh Baat Pakki! released in theatres on Friday.