Shaadi Ke Side Effects is actually two films in one. The first half is a sparkling comedy, which traces the metamorphosis of happily married couple Sid and Trisha, ayed by Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan. Sid and Trisha share a conjugal camaraderie that is rare and infectiously happy.
But their first child puts a brake on their bliss.
Trisha declares: we are pregnant and it’s all downhill from there. She becomes an overweight, emotional wreck. He retreats into a sort of arrested development, longing for those carefree days when conversations weren’t about the colour of baby poo.
Slowly, they become the sort of couple that has dinner together without speaking.
Writer-director Saket Chaudhary makes this evolution laugh-out-loud funny. Trisha gets short shrift — Vidya works hard to give Trisha emotional depth but the film is told from Sid’s point of view and Trisha mostly comes off as an unreasonable nag.
But Farhan, all charm and comic timing, carries the show. His confusion and frustration as his life goes out of control is both heartfelt and hilarious. He is effortlessly likable.
There’s also Ram Kapoor, lovely as the brother-in-law, who offers this invaluable advice: "Log kehte hai ek happy married life ki buniyad hoti hai pyar, bharosa...bakwas...sach toh yeh hai ki happy married life ki buniyaad hotey hain woh chhote chhote jhooth."
But post-interval, another film begins.
One that is curdled and contrived. New characters are introduced but instead of being organic to the narrative, they seem like an afterthought — tacked on simply to keep a movement going.
Saket creates flashes of genuine insight into marriage and parenting — toward the end, Trisha finally gets a moment to articulate how overwhelming motherhood can be for a woman — but these get lost in the clumsy, overstretched plot.
The screenplay lurches randomly, eventually leading to a climax so convoluted and false that much of the affection I had for Sid and Trisha evaporated.
Which is such a shame because until then, I was having so much fun.
Shaadi Ke Side Effects is in equal parts, enjoyable and exasperating. Pretty much like the average marriage.