Movie Review: Hasee Toh Phasee (2014)

HTP3 Stars (out of 4)

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Finally, a movie in which the nerdy girl wins the hero’s heart without having to undergo a glamorous makeover. The tomboy reigns supreme in Hasee Toh Phasee (“She Smiles, She’s Snared“).

The tomboy at the heart of the film is Meeta (Parineeti Chopra), a clever, socially awkward young woman who stands out from her sisters because of her Harry Potter hairdo. In 2006, she flees from her sister’s wedding with the aid of stranger with a Rick Springfield coiffure, Nikhil (Sidharth Malhotra).

Nikhil is also clever, but more socially adept and far more cautious than Meeta. She invites him to join her on a trip, but he declines and returns to the wedding. Inside, he immediately falls in love with the first pretty woman he sees, a model named Karishma (Adah Sharma).

Fast-forward seven years, and Nikhil is hoping to finally do something right in Karishma’s eyes by marrying her. Things get complicated for the groom when Karishma asks Nikhil to look after her loony sister and keep her away from the wedding. The sister is Meeta, of course.

Meeta is one of the most well-developed characters in recent memory. All of her social tics — e.g. her extreme literalness and tendency not to blink during conversations — make her feel real, and they seem appropriate for a woman who’d rather be working in her chemistry lab than making small talk at a wedding.

Meeta comes alive in Chopra’s hands. She makes a character that could’ve been annoying into a vibrant and lovable person, and she’s at her best in a scene in which Meeta’s emotions get the best of her. Meeta’s relationship with her father, Devesh (Manoj Joshi), is touching. Unlike most people, he sees past Meeta’s quirks to who she really is.

In a movie with a character as memorable as Meeta and the theme of being true to oneself, Nikhil is a little too nebulous, especially since his character’s emotional development drives the story. It’s not clear why Nikhil is as reticent and fearful of disappointing people as he is, so his constant self-sabotage seems to come from nowhere. Even his final decision is forced on him more than it is self-generated.

Malhotra performs well as Nikhil, but he’s hampered by the way his character is written. He’s also too conventionally handsome for the part. When Devesh rhetorically asks what Karishma sees in him, it’s obvious: he makes nice arm candy at industry parties, in addition to being irrationally devoted to her.

There are several entertaining supporting characters in the film, none more so than Nikhil’s cousin, Abhinandan, who once almost became a contestant on “Indian Idol.” He sings and shimmies, hoping to impress Meeta, who barely notices him. One could make the case that he’d be as devoted a partner to Meeta as Nikhil, even if he’s not her intellectual equal.

The other component keeping Hasee Toh Phasee from perfection is the story structure. It starts too slowly, and the flow is interrupted along the way. Many scenes are too long relative to the degree that they show character development or move the story forward.

That said, Hasee Toh Phasee is worth checking out for its progressive female lead character, who’s both smart and pretty, even in jeans and a hoodie. That she’s played by a superstar in the making is an added bonus.


28 thoughts on “Movie Review: Hasee Toh Phasee (2014)

  1. mayanknailwal

    Very nice review. I went to watch the movie just for parineeti and a bit for Sidharth.
    I loved her performance.
    Well said that she’s a superstar in making coz with every movie she’s improving and also her choice of selection of film is too good.
    Sidharth did a fair job too. Apart from his good looks, he justified his character and acted well.
    Music was definitely not memorable but is ok.
    And yeah, the movie has slow pace in the first half with stretched scenes.
    Anyways, if I ignore that much of Kjo’s movies still sticks to his regular wedding formula, Hansee toh phasee is fresh, entertaining and different from the usual over-the-top rom-com’s.! 🙂 😀

  2. Deepak C.

    Nice review, Kathy, I’m looking forward to this movie a bit more now since the trailers and especially the soundtrack (except Drama Queen) weren’t too appealing. I also find Parineeti a bit annoying nowadays — she’s turning into another Anushka Sharma in that they both play the exact same hyper spunky modern girl in every single movie with very little difference among roles. Would love to be proven wrong on this movie.

    1. Kathy

      Thanks, Deepak. I agree about the disappointing soundtrack. What I like about Parineeti’s characters is that they have an edge. They’re not as immediately lovable as some of the peppy dream-girl types Anushka is asked to play. Parineeti has to win you over to her character’s side through her performance, and her role in Hasee Toh Phasee is the best example of that.

      1. mayanknailwal

        KATHY, you can see how much trust ppl have gained on you.
        They can watch a movie against their guesses if you give it a green light.
        Now it’s an achievement as a critique.
        😉 😀
        Keep this stupendous job goin on!

  3. meeradarjiyr1

    Great review! I was actually going to avoid this film, due to the stereotypical trailer which felt flat. However, after reading your review, I feel bad for judging the film so quickly! I’m going to give this one a chance, partially as I intrigued to see Meeta’s character not shown through the conventional format.

    1. Kathy

      Don’t feel bad, Meera. The movie’s “Love goes cuckin’ frazy” tagline was bad enough to discourage anyone from seeing the film. It’s neat to see a non-stereotypical character like Meeta in an otherwise familiar-feeling film.

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  5. Shah Shahid

    Finally Kathy!! A role for a woman written and performed well. The moral: Never give up hope.

    This sounds very interesting. I’m loving that Parineeti isn’t going down the conventional actress route by putting in her ‘dues’ of years of skin shows and dumbing herself down before becoming serious, like every single ‘superstar’ actress now (not counting Vidya Balan). Given her youth and inexperience, it’s surprising the kind of roles and movies she’s doing.

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  14. JustMeMike

    Thanks for the fine review Kathy,

    I finally got to see this one and have now seen all four of Parineeti’s films. While she was great as the tomboy female, I thought the film wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. Maybe it was Nikhil’s blandness, or may be it the rainy season which was so often nothing more than an intrusion, or maybe it was the on again off again romance between Nikhil and karishma.

    I was also disappointed with yet another would be marriage that ground to a halt at the marriage ceremonies and left everyone there in a state of puzzlement.

    I loved Parineeti more in Shudd Desi Romance, and truly I enjoyed that one better than this one. Looking forward to more of Parineeti. She will star opposite Ranveer Singh in Kill Dil which opens in early September.

    1. Kathy

      Thanks, Mike! I agree that Shuddh Desi Romance was definitely superior, thanks to a better developed male lead character. I’m looking forward to watching Parineeti in Daawat-e-Ishq on September 5.

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  19. Liz

    I recently rewatched this movie and have two tiny plot questions–Can anyone explain why Alpesh has the authority to slap Devesh’s child or criticize his parenting? Is it just because he’s an older male in the family? Also, what does Meeta say to Devesh after she asks him for the 100 million? It’s drowned out by the music on purpose, but I never could figure it out.

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