Here’s the bad news: Good Newwz is almost the perfect ending to the horrific year that 2019 has been for Hindi films. Starring Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh and Kiara Advani, this ‘comedy’ about a pregnancy mix-up makes for a good competitor for the worst movie of the year award.
The actual good news? You don’t have to watch it.
Directed by Raj Mehta, the film tells the story of two couples who try IVF (in vitro fertilisation) to get pregnant. Owing to the fact that they share the same last name, the clinic mixes up the two sperm samples and confusion ensues.
The rest of the film looks at how the two couples deal with it — one still wanting to have the child, while the other is conflicted and contemplating abortion.
Predictably, there are many issues with Good Newwz.
For one, it has taken all the recycled baby-crazy woman jokes and simply given them a modern upgrade. Kumar’s Varun is intimidated by the idea of having a child, because he only sees them as problem-causing responsibilities. But he relents to his wife Deepti’s (Kapoor) wishes, after much cribbing and lots of snide remarks about having sex on a schedule.
Honey and Monika (Dosanjh and Advani) are shown as loud, unrefined and foolish — Bollywood’s stereotypical Punjabi caricatures that should have died in the 90s.
The comedy, apart from being worn out, is also extremely elitist. There is a whole sequence in which a stoned Vaurn laughs uncontrollably at Monika’s broken English and makes multiple jokes, actually making her uncomfortable.
While the two couples are equally affluent (a mystery given their career choices of being a journalist, car salesman and businessman), there is a clear class divide that is constantly played upon.
Varun and Deepti live in a high-end apartment in Mumbai, lead modern lives and speak fluent English. On the other end, Monika and Honey, possibly richer than their neighbours, don’t converse in English, are pious, and not very ‘Western’. The script keeps playing up these differences as comedic fodder.
The other major problem with Good Newwz is a problem that a lot of films have suffered from — the filmmakers thought of a promising premise, but didn’t know what to do with it. The story is set up efficiently enough, but the conflict and resolution is where the film gets lost.
The story touches upon topics like societal pressure to have children, fertility treatments and women choosing to put their career first. But instead of an elaboration on any of these topics, what you get in the second half is a long drawn-out hotch-potch of drama and comedy, with no real conclusion. The filmmakers try everything, even throwing in a pro-life argument, along with a dramatic monologue of how difficult pregnancy can be — but to no avail.
Kapoor does an okay job, but lacks conviction. Kumar tries too hard, especially with the comedy, and comes off jarring in places. Advani has as many lines as she did in Kabir Singh, and hence, as much of an effect. The only one who stands out is Dosanjh with his easy, effortless dialogue delivery.
The writing, by Jyoti Kapoor, Raj Mehta and Rishabh Sharma, lags in many places, either with misplaced humour or drama or both. The direction, too, could have been snappier and sharper as the director spends too much time establishing some scenes and not exploring others at all. The music is mostly just remixes like Sauda Khara Khara and Chandigarh Mein, upbeat but nothing exciting.
Overall, spend the last week of the year hoping that next year is better for Bollywood — for everyone’s sake.
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