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Vicky Donor is a reminder to Bollywood that a clever story is more important than star power when it comes to making a good movie.
Anupama Chopra recently wrote in the Hindustan Times about a new wave of “high concept” movies coming out of India. The term refers to a movie based on a simple premise but with an interesting or ironic twist, the film equivalent of a catchy pop song. The accessibility of the story sells itself, which is a new development in star-obsessed Bollywood.
Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam — newcomers to the Hindi film industry — helm Vicky Donor, a romantic comedy about a professional sperm donor. Khurrana is Vicky, a 25-year-old slacker who lives with his mother and grandmother above his mom’s beauty salon.
Only reluctantly does Vicky agree to become a donor. He caves under the relentless pressure of Dr. Chaddha (Annu Kapoor), the owner of a fertility clinic with marginal success rates. Chaddha — who claims to have a sixth sense for these things — sees in handsome, athletic Vicky a potential supplier of high quality genetic material. He explains that his upper-middle class clientele will pay big bucks in hopes of raising the next David Beckham or Aishwarya Rai.
When Vicky finally hands over a sample to Chaddha, Vicky’s little swimmers are given the highest marks for quality. Soon, Vicky is making regular donations and reaping the financial rewards while trying to woo a lovely banker named Ashima (Gautam). When Ashima confesses a secret about her romantic past, Vicky balks at the chance to tell her what he really does for a living. This creates big problems later on.
The subject matter naturally lends itself to jokes, but Khurrana and Gautam play their characters with complete sincerity. They’re nice young people who go through a relatively normal courtship, despite Vicky’s secret occupation.
As far as Vicky and Ashima know, the biggest obstacle they face as a couple is their families’ prejudices. Vicky’s Punjabi family distrusts Ashima’s Bengali family, and vice versa. For international audiences unfamiliar with Indian regional biases, there’s more than enough exposition to explain the hostility. That the film does so in a funny way is a bonus.
The movie is ultimately stolen by Kapoor as Dr. Chaddha, whose relentless pursuit of Vicky’s gametes is hilarious. Chaddha is a man obsessed with his work, from the toy sperm hanging from his rearview mirror to his t-shirt depicting a field of swimming sperm alongside the words: “Do it!”
Kapoor certainly delivers the laughs, but he makes the doctor more than just comic relief. Chaddha genuinely cares for Vicky, and he tries to fill a void in fatherless Vicky’s life. It’s touching the way Vicky’s low points distress Chaddha, who treats Vicky as more than just a stud.
There’s one insensitive moment near the end of the film that stands out as a negative in an otherwise good-natured script. Ashima affectionately refers to a cute East Asian child as “that little ching chong.” While I don’t think any malice was intended, the term is still offensive.
Overall, however, Vicky Donor is a surprisingly sweet and innocent film about an adult topic. It’s worth checking out.
- Vicky Donor at Wikipedia
- Vicky Donor at IMDb
- “A high concept to woo the young” by Anupama Chopra
Looks like I need to catch this one soon. By the way, I loved your first para. Fully agree!
Thanks, Keyur! Can’t wait to hear what you think of it.
Sure 🙂 And you welcome!
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I accidentally stumbled upon your site and was amazed to know that an American was reviewing Hindi Films. Read some of your reviews which suggest that you are doing a good job.Keep it going.Did you ever feel like taking Hindi classes so as to avoid your dependency on English subtitles? Happy Movies !
Thanks for the compliments on my reviews, Pavan! I took some Hindi classes a few years ago, so I know a few words and phrases, and I’m sure I’ll take more classes in the future. I like reviewing films on behalf of people who rely on subtitles, just so people feel like they don’t have to understand Hindi in order to enjoy Indian movies.
That’s wonderful !
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Hey Kathy, got to your reviews from imdb. Nice to have a different perspective on Indian movies. There are many hindi movies with a good scripts like Vicky Donor and of late they have been doing well at BO too. Hope the trend continues. Read a few reviews of yours, must say i found them pretty good!!Keep it up. Cheers!!
Thanks so much, Sandy!
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got here via IMDB link,
Nice to see that “insensitive part” noticed by you too as that was the only thing that bothered me when I first saw the movie. Apart from the obvious “derogatory” slang, I think it is quite out of character for refined, well behaved, dignified “Ashima” to have made a comment like this (however you could easily expect it from Vicky)
Infact as someone who has lived his whole life in South Delhi, just 2 miles away from Lajpat Nager (Vicky’s locality in the movie) I cannot even begin to explain what an awesome job script writer Juhi has done. The dialogs and settings are so realistic and therefore even more funny in the context. For me personally as my ex gf (who was my neighbor too) is just like Vicky’s neighbor (the way she dresses in the movie, her way of talking and even her mothers contempt). Priceless!
But the best character in the movie is Vicky’s grandma and her every dialog is a laugh riot! (Punjabi + Hindi mix)
Clash of cultures is even more funny as Punjabi culture is brash, loud, on your face while Bengali’s are polite, reserved and maintain a milder version of english stiff upper lip. All of above is very sensitively handled and presented!
All in all I have seen this movie thrice till now and I cant get enough of it. I see a bit of myself and people around me in every character here. I guess that’s what makes this special!
thanks for the review. I am happy you liked it too 🙂
Thanks so much for your insight, Vineet! I agree with everything you said about Ashima’s insensitive comment. It’s great to learn that the filmmakers got the details of Vicky’s neighborhood right, and that they were able to make jokes about Punjabi/Bengali cultural differences without being mean. Vicky Donor is really enjoyable even for those of us not from South Delhi, but I’m glad it’s even more fulfilling for people who know the area where it takes place. Cheers, Vineet!
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that was remarkable kind review, all the reviews of indian movies by foreigners are scathe, but yours was just cathe
Thanks, Avrinsh. A good movie is a good movie, no matter what country it’s from.
Hi Kathy, I watched Vicky Donor yesterday and can’t get over it. I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms and I think I’m going to treat myself with this movie again this weekend 🙂 I’ve been reading reviews to find out what other viewers thought about this (that’s how much I liked it) and that’s how I came across your review. Pleasantly surprised to find that you are not an Indian 🙂
I agree with your observation on the insensitive comment. Like Vineet above said, it did seem quite out of character for someone with Ashima’s upbringing and education background to make a comment like that. I also felt Yaami was a bit over the top in the scenes where she screams at Vicky for not telling her about his previous ‘occupation’. It seemed too contrived. The adoption of the little girl was way too easy. You can’t just walk out with a child from an orphanage. My grandfather used to run one back in his village and like everything else, there are rules and regulations. But overall it was a very enjoyable movie for me. I’m going to check out your other reviews now 🙂
Welcome to Access Bollywood, Deepa! Thanks for your comment. Great point about about the scene at the orphanage. Dog shelters have more restrictions on adopting a beagle than that orphanage did on adopting a kid!
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