Good Newwz review: Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor deliver the goods in amusing maternal drama

Kiara Advani grows in stature. Director Raj Mehta cultivates a fine family comedy on Jyoti Kapoor’s fertile script

Rating: 3.5 / 5

By Mayur Lookhar

Hindi cinema takes inspiration from the West. We’ve heard that from ages, but it’s seldom that a desi film inspires the West. Vicky Donor [2012], Shoojit Sircar’s out-of-the-box story of a sperm donor inspired Ken Scott to make the American film Delivery Man [2013]. Aamir Khan-starrer 3 Idiots [2009] has been adapted in Spanish as 3 Idiotas [2017] . Now comes another Indian out-of-the-box drama that has global potential.

Director Raj Mehta’s Good Newwz is another ‘below the belt’ story [pun intended]. This gem originates from a sperm goof up on account of same surname that’s now left Varun [Akshay Kumar] and Deepti Batra [Kareena Kapoor Khan] and Honey [Diljit Dosanjh] and Monica Batra [Kiara Advani], with sleepless nights. The two couples are worried just how will their child turn out to be. While Varun is ruing his wife’s decision to go for an In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) procedure, Honey is worried whether the Mumbai-based Varun and Deepti won’t abort the child. Good Newwz, Mehta’s first feature, rides on the comedy of errors that the IVF goof up brings with it.

Though fairly predictable, it is the highly gripping, entertaining screenplay by Jyoti Kapoor that makes this Good Newwz so pleasing to the ear. Kapoor’s last film Badhaai Ho [2018] dealt with pregnancy too. Both Badhaai Ho and Good Newwz take the bumpy ride before safely reaching their desired destination. Kapoor’s aided by Rishabh Sharma (additional screenplay) and Raj Mehta. The trio combine to pen witty conversations (dialogues). While the film does make light of a serious error in IVF process, but it also triggers the right, emotional maternal discussion between a couple.

Though the principal characters are all wealthy Punjabis, Kapoor and Raj Mehta present two different perspective, reaction to the problem at hand. Traditionally, one may perceive the desi couple to take a regressive stand, but it is here that the Chandigarh-based Monica and Honey surprise you with their broad mindsets. On the contrary, it is the Mumbai-based high society polished English speaking couple – Varun and Deepti – who carry all sort of fears. Good Newwz busts the myth that the educated urban elite is holier-than-thou.

The humour here stems from the cultural clash between the Batras from Mumbai and the Batras from Chandigarh.

Akshay Kumar has a flair for comedy, but often many of his films stink of forced, sometimes regressive content, that’s passed off as slapstick humour. Good Newwz though is refreshing and a matured sitcom where Kumar delivers a flawless act. Both Varun and Deepti are experiencing mid life crisis. Varun’s loss of libido is the reason why the couple opts for IVF.

Gone are the days where Bollywood heroes took pride in playing the macho man, the alpha male. Like many of his contemporaries, Kumar has embraced the imperfection of his characters beautifully. “If women can do it, then men, too, can fake their moans,” confesses Varun. While’ he cares for his wife, but the frustration also leads to tense moments between the couple. These moments expose the vulnerability, the imperfection of Varun Batra. Kumar’s a natural when it comes to comedy, action, but he’s seldom convinced you while enacting emotional scenes. However, the actor turns a new leaf as he displays the anger, frustration of Varun with conviction. It is perhaps Kumar’s finest show since Special 26 [2013].

Kareena Kapoor Khan was the first to be cast in Good Newwz. Being a mother herself, Kapoor’s experienced the anxiety, stress, mood swings that a woman goes through during pregnancy. No wonder that she just eased into her role. There’s a glow, a spark on her face that instantly attracts you to Kareena. Well, motherhood makes a woman more beautiful. The Begum of Pataudi tops it with a confident act.

With each film, Kiara Advani grows in stature. Monica Batra [Advani] is a happy-go-lucky girl who has learnt to take things in her strides. Her two miscarriages hasn’t broken her jovial child-like spirit. “Apna khoon apna hi hota hain” {Our own blood is ours] , Monica tells Deepti when asked why she never thought of adopting a child. At first sight, the boisterous, innocent Monica wouldn’t strike you as one who’s braved tough times, but therein lies her charm. Monica is a good hearted soul who simply floors you with her innocence. She’s no dim wit though. Monica gently says, she’s done her English HONARS (honours) n English. But there’s nothing pretentious about Monica. Advani revels in the innocence and simplicity of Monica.

Honey Batra is a colorful, loud but he’s not your poor stereotypical Bollywood Sikh character. Though wealthy, he’s soaked into his middle class values. Dosanjh is a little overbearing at times, but he largely shines in this entertaining avatar.

What works for Good Newwz is the comfort level , the chemistry between Akshay-Kareena and Kiara-Diljit. Varun-Deepti are polished but a sophisticated couple too. In the past, Kareena Kapoor has played second fiddle to Kumar in formulaic films, but Good Newwz puts Kareena on an equal pedestal. Meanwhile, Advani and Dosanjh have collaborated for the first time. The Monica-Honey chemistry is built on trust, and simple middle class values.

Mehta’s four protagonists are terrific, but acclaimed actors Adil Hussain, Tisca Chopra, too, play their parts to the T. Dr Joshi [Hussain] and his doctor wife [Chopra] run the famous IVF clinic. Forlorn actress Anjana Sukhani, who plays Varun’s sister, delights in her brief but impressive role. Here’s a sister urging her brother to try harder in bed, not shying from speaking about the various positions that she tries daily with her husband. Well, the Bollywood behna (sister) is no longer there to tie rakhis or get killed and avenged.

The screenplay doesn’t meander but the film loses a bit steam towards the business end. The general sense of predictability hangs at the back of your mind from the first scene itself. Besides, there is a fear that passing off such goof ups in a comedy could dissuade couple from opting for IVF.

It’s rare for Bollywood family dramas to not have many songs. Save for the Maana Dil track by B Praak, there’s nothing to rave about the other soundtracks. There’s hardly any background music. Much of the action takes place in Varun Batra’s house or the hospital. In all fairness, the conversations don’t really need any background score.

Good Newwz is a coming of age family drama that may be light-hearted, but it doesn’t lose sight of its core message – no matter whose sperm it is, but children are gifts from God. And only God has the right to abort a life. Embrace life and go cherish this Good Newwz.

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