It is a known fact that sex education is practically non-existent in India. A severe lack of information and widespread misinformation are what we get when we look up sex in the Indian educational curriculum, thanks to our ever-important sanskaars that tell us that anything to do with sex is perverse. Sonakshi Sinha-starrer Khandaani Shafakhana valiantly tries to tackle this taboo around sex in small-town India, but fails to stir up any actual excitement.
Directed by Shilpi Dasgupta, the film follows the story of Babita ‘Baby’ Bedi, a struggling pharmaceutical salesperson who lives in Punjab with her mother and unemployed brother. The family faces financial troubles and owes money to relatives, which puts a lot of pressure on Baby.
Her estranged uncle, ‘mamaji’, who ran a successful fertility and sex clinic passes away and leaves her the clinic. Baby sees an opportunity – she can sell the clinic and clear her family’s dues.
And, here comes the twist. Baby, according to the mamaji’s will, has to run the clinic for six months before she decides to sell it.
This revelation is obviously followed by uncomfortable and awkward sex talk and Baby being shamed by everyone in the family.
Khandaani Shafakhana, written by Gautam Mehra, starts out as a great idea, but 30 minutes into the film, and it becomes apparent that the writer and the filmmaker don’t really know how to take the story forward. The plot becomes linear and predictable.
The build-up is engaging and fun. People looking down upon a woman running a sex clinic – neighbours shame Baby with words like ‘sanskaari’ and ‘khandaani izzat’ – isn’t far from reality.
The film falls flat when it goes into a preachy mode. Baby is shown fighting biases and the lack of awareness through ‘inspirational’ speeches and a few dramatic sequences. And, years of oppressive conditioning just magically vanish.
Also read: Badhaai Ho exposes our prudishness about sex
While words like sex and erectile dysfunction are liberally used, women are never seen coming to Baby’s sex clinic for help. Only men with erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, low stamina and fractured penis come to her clinic. Khandaani Shafakhana, which has a strong female character who dominates the storyline, could have done so much more here.
What the film does get right is the humour – it isn’t forced and the punchlines and zingers are sharp. The music is fun and upbeat. The film, however, scores low in the acting department. Sonakshi Sinha, who is about complete a decade in the film industry, still struggles to act. Surprisingly, Badshah, in his first Bollywood role, does a better job at playing a parody of himself.
Khandaani Shafakhana sets out with all the right elements, to do the right thing, but takes too long to get to the point. The hasty ending is disappointing – much like the men who come to the clinic for help. Some sharp editing and better writing are what the doctor would prescribe for this Sonakshi Sinha film.