Movie Review: Toh Baat Pakki (2010)

2 Stars (out of 4)

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Compared to many other recent Hindi comedies, Toh Baat Pakki is understated, for the most part. But the beginning and end of the movie fall back on conventional slapstick.

Tabu stars as Rajeshwari, a big sister seeking a husband for her little sister, Nisha (Yuvika Chaudhry). But she only wants the best for Nisha, who’s pretty, smart and considers teaching village children for free a hobby.

Rajeshwari literally runs into Rahul (Sharman Joshi), a friendly engineering student, as she’s walking home from the shops. She’s suspicious at first, scolding him even when he goes out of his way to return her purse. When she eventually realizes that Rahul could be a perfect match for Nisha, Rajeswhwari contrives to move him into her vacant guest bedroom. Then she invites Nisha over for an extended stay.

The plan works perfectly. Nisha and Rahul fall for each other, and Rahul ingratiates himself with Rajeshwari’s husband and their two kids. The family starts preparing for Nisha & Rahul’s wedding.

Then Yuvi (Vatsal Seth) shows up on Rajeshwari’s doorstep. The son of her husband’s uncle’s friend, Yuvi arrives looking to rent the spare room currently occupied by Rahul. It’s just temporary while his bungalow is being repaired. Because he’s handsome and already successful, Rajeshwari makes the executive decision that Yuvi is actually a better match for Nisha than Rahul. She tricks Rahul into vacating the house, installing Yuvi in his place.

Rahul, convinced that Nisha still loves him, undertakes a convoluted plan to get Yuvi to call off the wedding. No one asks Nisha what she really wants.

At its best, Toh Baat Pakki is a winsome romantic comedy. Tabu is spectacular in the complicated lead role. Rajeshwari automatically assumes the worst of people. Even when she’s being nice, it’s to further her own ends. She’s a force of will that can’t be stopped.

But Tabu keeps Rajeshwari from being a nasty caricature. She’s motivated by a sense of familial duty that has been warped into a ceaseless hunt for perfection. Rather than employing cartoonish overreactions, Rajeshwari responds to events in a believable way: a slightly raised eyebrow when a more promising suitor walks by or a furrowed brow when she spots the tacky vase she’s trying in vain to regift.

However, these subtle comic reactions are overshadowed in the beginning and end of the movie by dumb sound effects and cheesy gags. There’s no reason for Rahul’s plan to be as complicated as it is, except as a means to include unfunny bits like throwing a pile of saris on a nosy neighbor or having goons disrupt a wedding.

Early into Rahul’s scheme, one of his friends asks why he doesn’t simply tell Nisha that he wants to marry her. There’s no good reason why he shouldn’t. Rahul’s answer makes no sense, and neither does the end of the movie.

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