By Satyen K. Bordoloi (13:10)
Film: "Mummy Punjabi"; Director: Pammi Somal; Cast: Kirron Kher, Jackie Shroff, Divya Dutta and Kanwaljeet Singh; Rating: * 1/2
Today there are more soaps on television then the real soaps in people's homes. Hence, when going to watch films, audiences expect more than a melodramatic, disappointing and condensed soap opera, which is exactly what "Mummy Punjabi" is.
A Punjabi woman living in Chandigarh - Mummy (Kirron Kher) to most and Baby to a few - tries to raise her two sons and a daughter on her traditional, yet quirky values. She lets her girl loose, but puts a leash on her sons. Her children, obedient as they are, comply. Most of the times things don't go according to plan, leading to much heartburn for Mummy.
"Mummy?" has its heart in the right place - it shows a clash of value systems and how a traditional woman copes with them. The problem is that its execution is not in sync with its intention. What you have thus is a long-winded, simple and caricaturised soap opera that you see on TV which has been condensed to two hours. The result is that in the relentless action in the film, there's not a second's breathing space.
This would have been all right, had it not been for a terrible script that tries to do too much. That suits director and writer Pammi Somal, who has written many soaps for serials. It, however, does not work for big screen audiences.
The only saving grace in the film is Kirron Kher, who despite very little scope in terms of the story and direction, does her best to keep the film together. It is however sad, that one of the best actress on Indian screen, a woman whose full range of talents have been exploited in masterpieces like "Khamosh Pani", is given such caricatured roles in badly directed films. Bollywood can, and should, do better for her.
Kanwaljeet Singh, as a chilled out father, and Divya Dutta as a gossipy maid do a good job too. But the rest of the cast seem straight out of a TV serial with big-screen aspirations in their eyes.
Even bit roles done by the likes of Jackie Shroff, Satish Kushik, Gurdas Mann and Rohit Roy cannot save the film that plays to the gallery in a very predictable script and execution.
This is a case of a film that perhaps should not have been made. And if it had to be made, it should have been made as a TV soap. It would have turned out to be a blockbuster then.