Subhash K. Jha on 'Life Partner'

Film: "Life Partner"; Cast: Govinda, Tusshar Kapoor, Prachi Desai, Fardeen Khan, Genelia D'Souza; Director: Rumi Jaffrey; Rating: **

Some of the writing invested into this not-bad comic look at the roller-coaster called marriage is surprisingly sharp.

For example, there's this Gujarati family lorded over by a tycoon (Darshan Jariwala) in Cape Town who remains rigidly rooted to conventions that ended 50 years ago. Back home in Gujarat a modern business family run by a liberal patriarch (Vikram Gokhale) ends up giving his daughter (Prachi Desai) to the NRI tycoon's mousy son (Tusshar Kapoor). The conflict that ensues is likeable and in a fully filmy way, believable.

Elsewhere this spoilt rich girl (Genelia) with a father (Anupam Kher), who never bothered to discipline her, gets herself a domesticated husband who does all the work while she attends to various disastrous hobbies.

Genelia as the destructive daughter gets to sink her teeth into a meaty part.

Witty and sometimes genuinely funny, "Life Partner" is a light bubbly take on the pitfalls of various kinds of marriages, arranged or otherwise, and how to avoid perils of getting into a marital alliance where the partners know nothing about the future.

While Genelia is happily over-the-top, Prachi in the rounded sensible part of a Gujarati girl standing up to her autocratic father-in-law does well for herself. Of the two young leading men, Tusshar as the timid believer in virginity as a gift to his bride suits his part and does at least one sequence when he bursts into tears after Prachi accepts his proposal with tonal correctness.

But it is Govinda as the frazzled divorce lawyer who brings the house down. Govinda gives the kind of tongue-in-cheek performance that once made him the number one choice for roles that required comic interpretations of social problems. He works well in combination with every actor in this film, wooden or hammy.

Rumi Jaffrey's direction is most of the time even in tone. But the last half hour with its screeching sermonizing gets on to slippery ground. Nonetheless "Life Partner" is a decent inoffensive marital comedy mostly free of double-meanings.

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