It’s a mix-up of epic proportions. A fertility clinic that prides itself on its success rate messes up when it interchanges the vials of two Mr Batras and impregnates the wrong Mrs Batra. Both couples have been struggling to get pregnant for years. Adoption is not an option because blood is blood after all, so they take a chance with in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
The humour pivots in the dissimilarities between the two couples. Deepti (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and Varun Batra (Akshay Kumar) are a Mumbai-based upwardly mobile designer-dressed couple. Honey (Diljit Dosanjh) and Monika Batra (Kiara Advani) from Chandigarh, on the other hand, parade around with brand names emblazoned across their chests in ensembles that include every shade of the Pantone palette all at once.
The first half glides along on the humorous banter between Varun and Deepti, especially as she tries to maximise the potential of the date marked “ovulation" on their calendar. The two actors are in perfect sync as they serve and volley lines to each other. It’s hard to keep your eyes off Kapoor Khan and her performance as a working woman aching to have a baby draws you in further. Good Newwz is also a reminder of the performer Kumar can be when he sets aside the patriotic zeal and hokum.
While the foreground is full of snap and crackle, the sets and production design are surprisingly tacky. But what the sets lack, the costumes and styling make up for in spades (a special shout-out to Kapoor Khan’s stylist).
Expectedly, the introduction of the “other" Batras is a bump in the road. The humour goes for low-hanging fruit and leans on stereotypes. Honey Batra refers to sperm as “spam" and Monika struggles with the toilet’s “flash". Dosanjh amps up the volume, shouting his dialogues, while Advani is endearing as the god-fearing expectant mother-to-be. Adil Hussain and Tisca Chopra add fine support as the doctors Joshi.
Once the horror of the mix-up has been absorbed, larger ideological and emotional questions confront both sets of Batras. How do you define parentage? Who has ownership of the baby when the process is anyway scientifically and artificially assisted? Can a man truly empathise with the woman’s experience?
It’s quite a dilemma and one wonders how writers Raj Mehta (also the director), Jyoti Kapoor and Rishabh Sharma will resolve the conundrum. Mehta’s debut feature film is a great set up for a sitcom but it takes recourse in repetition, melodrama, manipulation and conservative viewpoints. This is somewhat redeemed by a pointed and emotive monologue by Kapoor Khan on a husband’s lack of understanding of pregnancy.
For Kumar, Kapoor Khan and some truly laugh-out-loud moments, Good Newwz is the lightness needed to round off the year.