The surge in Hindi films addressing ‘taboo’ subjects, particularly those starring Akshay Kumar and Ayushmann Khurrana, have often toed the fine line between entertainment and preaching. Kumar’s latest film, Raj Mehta’s dramedy Good Newwz is the perfect blend of both, given it comes from a place of sheer conviction and embracing all tropes of meaningful entertainment.
Good Newwz revolves around two couples — the Batras, and well, the Batras. The first pair is from an upbeat Mumbai society, and consists of an entertainment journalist Deepti (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and Varun (Akshay Kumar), a sales executive. The second pair is based in Chandigarh, and consists of homemaker Monika (Kiara Advani) and Honey (Diljit Dosanjh). After several failed attempts at conceiving a child naturally, both couples seek treatment from the same Mumbai-based infertility clinic, owned by Doctor Joshi (Adil Hussain) and his wife (Tisca Chopra).
A mix-up of sperms during the In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) process results in Honey’s sperm getting implanted in Deepti’s womb and Varun’s in Monika. All this is in the trailer but what follows is an organic progression in the narrative, full of situational comedy, resulting in a sumptuous drama. The switch from comedy to drama in the final half hour of the film slides in very smoothly. The tone changes completely but the inflection never seems jarring or unwarranted.
This only proves the command debutant Raj Mehta has over his craft. Though his film is supported by experienced actors, he makes the most of them by lending them both a free hand at what they do best, and yet retain control over the director’s unifying vision. Writers Jyoti Kapoor, Rishabh Sharma, and Mehta not only know how to build a narrative with the perfect pace and precision but also pen some hilariously witty lines for the characters. They also incorporate a few gags that stem from real life, like Akshay referring to his previous collaboration with Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, Anurag Singh’s historical war drama Kesari earlier this year.
Kareena Kapoor Khan makes the most of her meaty part by sinking her teeth into it. Having worked with seasoned comedy filmmakers like Priyadarshan and Rajkumar Hirani, one knows she has impeccable comic timing. But in this film, besides some sarcastic retorts to Akshay’s character, she lets the boys do most of the comedy. She shines the most either in reacting or the dramatic scenes. A special mention to her for pulling off the scene she had said she did the film for — towards the end of the film, she delivers a monologue to Varun, critisising him for being a non-supportive husband while she has to bear the brunt of pregnancy alone.
Akshay, who probably has the best character graph in the film, is great at comedy, as he has proved time and again over the years. Here, the humour is not close to the Housefull franchise but more on the lines of his character in Jagan Shakti’s space drama Mission Mangal earlier this year. He delivers some skillfully written lines with his trademark straight face. The narrative also allows him to display his range, as he is seen laughing his guts out and crying his eyes out in two different yet key scenes of the film. And needless to say, he does both with immense conviction.
Diljit’s sense of humour is completely tapped into, and his character is the closest to his onscreen persona. But as he has proved with Shaad Ali’s sports biopic Soorma last year, he also possesses a versatality that he can put out if given a chance. In Good Newwz, while he is the one providing most of the cracks, he does not miss a beat when he leads the narrative to a more dramatic tone. Kiara gets the nuances of her character’s Punjabi accent right, and fares well in her role of a ditsy wife. But she is given only a couple of fleeting shots to show her potential. Her character remains in shadows most of the time, given the presence of three scene-stealing co-actors.
The music does act as a hindrance in some sequences, but Good Newwz does not do a half bad job of embracing the mainstream Hindi cinema abandon of breaking into a song out of nowhere, whether it is Kareena and Akshay in ‘Laal Ghagra’ on the occasion of Lohri or Kiara and Diljit during a Zumba session. The best one, Hardy Sandhu and Badshah’s ‘Chandigarh Mein,’ is saved for the end credits, and is undoubtedly a smashing sequence. The background score is commendably non-intrusive and only complements the narrative, particularly the bits of Kiara and Diljit.
The cinematography (by Vishnu Rao) and the editing boast of flashes of brilliance yet are mostly serviceable to the central narrative. Natasha Poonawala’s production design and Priyanka Mundada and Aki Narula’s costume design splash colours on the screen in every frame of the film. They breathe more life into an already lively narrative. The costume design particularly stands out as it is not only tastefully done, but also bring out the subtle geographical differences between the two Batra couples.
To say Good Newwz is a smart sociopolitical commentary on class would be a slight exaggeration. But it truly is an accurate, evolving into ideal, representation of our social zeitgeist.