Review: ‘Zara Hatke Zara Bachke,’ starring Vicky Kaushal and Sara Ali Khan

June 21, 2023

by Carla Hay

Sara Ali Khan and Vicky Kaushal in “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” (Photo courtesy of Maddock Films)

“Zara Hatke Zara Bachke”

Directed by Laxman Utekar

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Indore, India, the comedy/drama film “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” features an Indian cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Two spouses with no children want to move out of their very crowded family home to buy their own house, and they get involved in a real-estate scam where they get divorced in order to qualify to buy a house.

Culture Audience: “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching a comedy/drama that drags on for too long about marital ups and downs.

Himanshu Kohli, Sara Ali Khan and Vicky Kaushal in “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” (Photo courtesy of Maddock Films)

“Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” is like watching a tiresome couple who can’t decide whether to break up or stay together. Would you fake a marital breakup to buy a house? That’s the weak concept of this long-winded comedy/drama about a married couple getting a divorce as part of a scam to buy their first home. The movie is a clumsy blend of sitcom gimmicks and melodrama. “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” means “go away a little” in Hindi.

Directed by Laxman Utekar, “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” (which takes place in Indore, India) was co-written by Maitrey Bajpai and Ramiz Ilham Khan. This misguided movie is an almost non-stop onslaught of people squawking and arguing over the marriage of Kapil Dubey (played by Vicky Kaushal) and his wife Somya Chawla Dubey (played by Sara Ali Khan), who both go to extreme measures to buy their own home. Kapil (who is a yoga teacher) and Somya (who teaches chemistry at a coaching institute) have no children together and are very unhappy with their crowded living situation of living with several of Kapil’s relatives.

Kapil and Somya want to move out and buy their own house as soon as possible. The problem is that they can’t afford to buy the house that they want, which has a cost ₹4.5 million, or about $55,000 in U.S. dollars in 2023. The couple’s sleazy real-estate agent Ban Das Ishwardas Sahay (played by Inaamulhaq) tells Kapil and Somya about a real-estate scheme that would allow the couple to buy the house: Get a legal divorce, buy the house, and then get married again.

Why is the divorce needed? As a married couple, Kapil and Somya don’t qualify for a loan, based on their combined household income. If they get divorced, they would each qualify for a housing lottery, based on their separate individual incomes. At first, Kapil is completely against the idea. Somya is more open to considering it. Eventually, she thinks this divorce should be the couple’s plan. Somya convinces Kapil that it’s the best and fastest way to get the house that they want.

Somya and Kapil enlist the help of an attorney friend named Manoj Bhagel (played by Himanshu Kohli) to help them with this divorce scheme. Manoj knows that Somya and Kapil are faking their breakup in order to get a house. The divorce paperwork is filed and the plan is set in motion. One of the movie’s big plot holes is that Manoj represents both Somya and Kapil in divorce court. Manoj is hyper, scatterbrained, and nothing but a buffoonish character.

The first time that Kapil and Somya appear before the judge (played by Atul Tiwari) who’s overseeing their divorce case, the judge is skeptical that the marriage needs to end. It just leads to Somya and Kapil going overboard in trying to convince everyone around them that they are a feuding former couple who should definitely get divorced. Kapil and Somya have over-the-top arguments. They also hire a woman named Mehjabeen (played by Srishti Ganguli Rindani) to pretend to be Kapil’s mistress, so that Somya can claim adultery as a reason for the divorce.

Even after Kapil and Somya get divorced, there are still obstacles to them getting the house. And then, the inevitable happens: Kapil and Somya start arguing for real. You know where this is going and how the movie is going to end. But the problem is that “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” makes everything so boring to watch. The movie’s very thin plot is stretched and padded out to a very bloated running time of 132 minutes. “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” also has an annoying sitcom-like musical score that is very intrusive and just makes the low-quality scenes even tackier.

It also doesn’t help that the couple at the center of “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” isn’t as charming as the filmmakers want viewers to believe. Somya is a horrendous teacher who berates, physically smacks, and degrades a young adult male student named Neeraj (played by Gourav Jariya), just because he was doodling a love note to someone in his notebook instead of taking notes from Somya’s lecture.

Neeraj has green-tinted hair. When Somya makes Neeraj the target of her wrath, she basically says that he won’t get any love with a face and hair like that, which is her way of calling him ugly. And when she smacks him, it crosses the line into an assault. In many countries, a teacher who is this abusive would be fired, but in “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke,” it’s treated as perfectly normal, and Somya faces no consequences for her awful actions.

Meanwhile, Kapil is kind of a wimp when it comes to standing up to his parents. His father Ved Prakash Dubey (played by Akash Khurana) rules the household with a domineering force, while Kapil’s mother Mamta Dubey (played by Anubha Fatehpuria) openly makes disdainful remarks about Somya’s Punjabi heritage. Adding to some of the family tension, Kapil is Hindu, while Somya is Muslim.

Other people in the household are Kapil’s uncle Purushottam “Puru” Mama (played by Neeraj Sood), who is Mamta’s brother; Puru’s wife Deepa Mami (played by Kanupriya Shankar Pandit); and Puru and Deepa’s precocious son, who’s about 7 or 8 years old. This child figures out long before most of the adults that Kapil and Somya are faking their breakup. And it should come as no surprise that Somya’s father Harcharan Chawla (played by Rakesh Bedi) and Somya’s mother Roshni Chawla (played by Sushmita Mukherjee) show up and insert themselves into the divorce drama.

A cliché-ridden movie about an argumentative gathering of family member wouldn’t be complete without someone in the clan going through a medical crisis. The mediocre performances in “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” don’t do anything up uplift the very formulaic and often annoying way that this movie was written and directed. The scenes in “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” are just like mush piled on top of each mush, adding up to almost nothing of substance.

Maddock Films released “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on June 2, 2023.

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