GQ padogi tum?” a bemused Lovelle asks, as three of Udan Patolas’ four protagonists stand outside a posh South Bombay salon ogling at promotional magazine covers. “Haan ji, kyun?” Puneet quips in response, as she, Noor and Lovelle break into raucous laughter. But no one else, least of all the viewer, is even remotely amused. The fourth friend Poppy is busy playing golf with her boyfriend.
Such is the level of humour that sums up the un-inspiring start to Amazon Mini TV’s new fish-out-of-water sitcom Udan Patolas. The six-episode series is about four friends from Punjab who land up in Mumbai — Puneet (Apoorva Arora), Noor (Aasttha Ssidana), Lovelle (Sukhmani Sadana) and Amrit (Poppy Jabbal) — and is an adaptation of Israeli series Honey Badgers.
Within the first ten minutes of the pilot episode, the predominant feeling is pure regret, as series head writer Sukhmani appears to do everything possible to outdo fellow Amazon sitcom Four More Shots, Please! in all of the worst excesses that the series had to offer — lazy dialogue, childish accents and cliched plotting.
The only way from here is up. Thankfully, Udan Patolas quickly gets past these teething problems, and establishes its fish-out-of-water premise — four small-town girls whose first forays into urban India were west Delhi and Hansraj College have now found themselves living and working in South Bombay, facing all its associated classism and elitism.
After the ear-bleeding salon scenes, the four protagonists slowly but surely come into their own, engaging in banter that actually sounds organic, although several of the peripheral characters fail to back them up with phoned-in, wooden dialogue deliveries of their own.
More misses than hits
Most of the situations early on in the series revolve around Lovelle, Noor, and Puneet’s workplace, a financial services company. The portrayal of the trio as slackers looking to go one up over elitist superiors has shades of Workaholics but with a heavy dose of Punjabi swearing.
By far the best comedic turn comes from company head R.K. Mittal, played by veteran actor Rakesh Bedi, of Chashme Buddoor fame. Within his limited screen time, Bedi outshines the other relative amateurs, with the pilot’s B-story revolving around his anguish over “only” getting ranked 99 in a list of India’s most influential people.
However, throughout its short season, Udan Patolas is never really able to achieve the target of a sweary silly sitcom — being funny. Rather, its comedy hit rate is quite poor, with only a handful of jokes truly landing while the rest range from as poor as ‘GQ-Ji kyun’ to just plainly forgettable.
Fortunately, unlike Four More Shots, Please!, it fully leans into its stereotypical absurdities and doesn’t waste too much time on more dramatic, emotional moments with substandard performers (looking at you, Samir Kochhar and Prateik Babbar).
Overall, Udan Patolas does not do well enough to truly justify sitting and watching 3 hours of content on a service that is, for now, exclusive to your mobile device. But the cast’s camaraderie, the few laughs and the cartoonish tone not only make for a fun, turn-your-brain-off-and-enjoy experience but also have a base to build on for potential future seasons.