Khandaani Shafakhana Movie Review: A shoddy ‘school’ of sex

Film: Khandaani Shafakhana

Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Varun Sharma, Nadira Babbar, Priyanshu Jora, Badshah, Rajiv Gupta, Annu Kapoor, Kulbhushan Kharbanda,

Director: Shilpi Dasgupta

Rating: * *

Sex related issues are fast becoming a hot-topic on the Hindi film scene. Liberalisation, market economy, globalisation may have set the ball rolling but it’s really to the credit of brave filmmakers like Vinod L Rai, Anuraag Kashyap and his Phantom team, the John Abraham-Shoojit Sircar jugalbandi and a few more, that such enterprises have become far more acceptable and therefore successful. ‘Khandaani Shafakhana’ is meant to tap into the same largely unexplored vein but the thought-processes governing its writing or treatment neither have the lucidity nor the coherence to make it effective.

Her uncle, Tarachand (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) ran a Unani clinic which earned disrepute because it became popular with patients suffering from sex related ailments. Located in Hoshiarpur, the clinic became a contentious issue for the Unani Research Organisation which chose to throw out the Hakim rather than besmirch it’s age-old reputation. Now that the Mamaji/Hakim has been murdered by one of his own patients no less, the onus is on Baby Bedi (Sonakshi) his conditional heir, to throw a spanner at patriarchy, small-town conventions and conservatism and continue in her beloved Mamaji’s footsteps.

On the face of it, the storyline sounds interesting and the recent spate of successful movies (Vicky Donor, Hunterr, Shubh Mangal Savdhan), that openly talk about sex related issues helps the appropriated sloganeering for sex education ‘Baat to karo/Let’s Talk about it’ appear nobly intended. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the writing or treatment that puts forward a coherent, cogent, consistent or relatable argument for the same. Writer Gautam Mehra segues a series of underwritten, unfinished sequences hoping that silly dialogue would combine with the actors timing to make everything risible. But the half-baked, underdeveloped nature of the script and the lacklustre, rather weary performances from everyone in the cast makes for an extremely dull and tedious experience.

Kulbhushan Kharbanda wears a pinched look, Sonakshi Sinha garbs herself in disgruntlement, Nadira Babbar seems too weary, Varun Sharma is off his fabled comic timing, Annu Kapoor hams his way through, pop-icon Badshah as Ghabru Ghatack is too incoherent and Priyanshu Jora, though fresh faced, seems too diminutive in talent and stature. The first half tries too hard to be funny and the second half slants off into an obligatory theme that just doesn’t fit in. The free-wheeling use of Punjabi adds more woe to the estrangement. Debutant director Shilpi Dasgupta doesn’t appear to have any clue regarding the mechanics of relatable cinema. Like the many sex-related problems being highlighted as part of the sex-education theme, this film is truly unfinished business!

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