It’s one of the many paradoxes that define India. A country of ancient, deep-rooted cultures and traditions has, until very recently, shied away from discussing sex and fertility while at the same time having a population that soars out of control. And since the same ancient, traditional country is also obsessed with the movies, there’s your answer to bringing taboo subjects out in the open. Director Shoojit Sircar and producer John Abraham’s Vicky Donor is something you don’t often see coming out of Hindi cinema – an open discussion on sperm donation and infertility clinics over an incredibly entertaining two hours. Just by its basic premise, the film manages to grab your attention. But it’s the combination of strong writing, deft execution and shining performances that makes this a film not to miss.
Newcomer Ayushmann Khurrana plays the boisterous and aimless Vicky Arora, a Delhi boy who’d rather spend his time doing much of nothing than find a job. He deflects the endless berating from his mother Dolly (Dolly Ahluwalia), a fiery widow who runs a beauty parlor in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar. Making this family complete is Biji, the feisty grandmother (Kamlesh Gill) who mollycoddles Vicky, demands an iPhone, and has made a tradition of boozing every evening with Dolly. The family dynamics sparkle, aided by nosy neighbors, a gossipy parlor and capped off brilliantly by the scenes of Vicky’s mother and grandmother getting drunk each night while throwing potshots at each other.
When Vicky is persuaded by Dr. Chaddha (Annu Kapoor), the owner of an infertility clinic in Daryaganj, to become a sperm donor to help childless couples, his life sets off on a trajectory he never quite imagined. Writer Juhi Chaturvedi and director Sircar go to town with Dr. Chaddha chasing after Vicky’s sperm – the innovative modes of persuasion, the relentless wooing, and the hilarious gesture he does by default every time he says the word ’sperm.’ It’s clever, perky yet never vulgar. Once Vicky realizes the lucrative opportunity and that his sperm is being wasted in his idle, partying ways (as explained by Dr. Chaddha of course), he agrees and starts raking in the fortune.
All goes swimmingly as Vicky tells his family that his new business in export/import of “handicrafts” is what’s bringing in the riches. It’s all good until he falls in love. What starts as a simple trip to the bank to open a new account turns into a charming romance between Vicky and his favorite banker Ashima Roy (Yaami Gautam). If Dr. Chaddha chasing Vicky for sperm donation was one thrill of a pursuit, Chaturvedi and Sircar have just as much fun with the brash Punjabi, Vicky, wooing the poised Bengali, Ashima. While their decision to get married seems too sudden for a film riding high on believability, the clash of the Bengali and Punjabi families is a pure laughathon, culminating in an wedding sequence that is so much fun you don’t want it to end.
It is rare these days to applaud a Hindi film on its writing, and Juhi Chaturvedi deserves accolades for a wonderfully witty and well-crafted script. The climax unfortunately falls into the trap of melodrama that the film avoided so confidently throughout, but the script overall is populated with one lovable character after another, and remains refreshingly mature with the topic of sperm donation. It shatters a taboo without you even noticing it.
If the writing created the perfect story and setting, the actors made it complete with a platter of commendable performances. Khurrana brings the necessary rawness and charm to his role, joined by equally sparkling performances by Gautam (though her angry/upset screeching got a bit too much), Ahluwalia (a momma you don’t mess with) and Gill (probably the coolest filmy grandma you’ll have seen). Annu Kapoor as Dr. Chaddha is also in brilliant form, striking the perfect balance between creepy and endearing.
Vicky Donor is desperately-needed proof that an original concept, solid writing and pitch-perfect casting can really take mainstream Hindi cinema in a promising direction. It’s a film that doesn’t need star faces, cheap slapstick humor or deafening melodrama. Instead, it’s a film that leaves you satisfied, entertained and allows us to discuss infertility and sperm donation without evoking widespread gasps. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is some successful sperm!
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