SIFRA vs The Classic Indian Family. If you are curious about the acronym, here it is in expanded glory – Super Intelligent Female Robot Automation (SIFRA) versus the Classic Indian Family. Perhaps this smart phrase was that eureka idea which greenlit this Shahid Kapoor-Kriti Sanon film. Simply because, after watching Teri Baaton Mein AIsa Uljha Jiya, directed by Amit Joshi and Aradhana Sah, there appears to be little else to the film!
A robotics engineer, harrowed by his family to get married, meets a robot and ends up falling in love. He now faces the challenge of having to present his machine girlfriend to his family. This is the brief synopsis of the film, and relax, we are not playing spoiler alert because all this is revealed in the trailer.
It’s an interesting idea. Robotics and AI are the next big things changing our world after social media. Humanoid Robots are already making a splash at various tech labs across the globe. The discussions and innovations in this sector, the fears and dangers it represents and the immense possibilities it possesses, are the hottest topics of discussion today. In many industries, robots are already taking over human jobs but can they also replace humans in our lives? Is it possible to develop emotions between man and machine? What happens when the machine malfunctions?
These are questions that can let a filmmaker’s imagination soar. Hollywood and even the Indian film industry have made plenty of ‘robot films’ in the past (the 2010 Rajnikanth starrer Enthiran and the old TV show Small Wonders, immediately come to mind), so it’s not a new concept. What makes it timely in 2024 is that we are now at a stage when technology is making these developments that earlier strictly existed in the realm of science-fiction, possible in real life. The impact could be a delightful exploration on screen.
Alas, this is Bollywood we are talking of!
So the humanoid in Teri Baaton Mein… gets the most Bollywood treatment ever. Since it’s a ‘family entertainer’, there has to be a large family, which, in this case, is super annoying and problematic. There is the overbearing bhabhi, a slap-happy hyper mother, a chilled out grandpa (Dharamendra), a trying-too-hard-to-be-funny uncle and some kids. Their collective problem is Aryan Agnihotri’s (Shahid) bachelorhood and they badger him endlessly about it. Clearly, personal space is not an accepted concept in the Agnihotri household!
Aryan, as mentioned above, is a robotics engineer but we don’t see him tinkering around with robots after the initial introduction scenes. And when he meets Sifra, introduced to him by his aunt and boss lady Urmila (Dimple Kapadia, channelling her Pathaan self), the CEO of a robotics firm, he falls madly in love forgetting his education and logic. The fun begins when he brings Sifra to meet the family.
Soon the complexities of robotics or the intricacies of humanoids are forgotten as Sifra, the robot, is programmed to behave like the ideal bahu. She is paraded before the family and society, asked to dance and cook, complimented on her gori-chitti (fair and lovely) looks and loved for her sanskaars (virtues). Can Aryan keep up with the charade for long, and what happens when the truth unravels, forms the rest of the film.
To its credit, Teri Baaton Mein… is light-hearted and breezy and the director duo has maintained this tone throughout. Bollywood, of late, has taken the action-heavy, violent path so a romantic film is quite a welcome change. It’s been a while since we watched a film about good-looking people lip-syncing to hummable tunes in pretty locations, and creating drama at big fat Bollywood weddings. Last year, Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahaani did it and this year, Teri Baaton Mein…appears to field the baton.
Unfortunately, what draws it back is the lame screenplay and superficial emotions. The loud North Indian family tropes are very predictable; their sequences with Sifra lack the wit and sparkle need to make for a zany, outrageous comedy. Punchy moments or dialogues are few and far between. For instance, in one scene, a character, exasperated with Aryan’s love story, mutters that he better get married to the robot and sire a few metal children. It’s a throwaway line that evokes genuine laughter. Wish the sci-fi romcom had more of these!
However, a lot of the flaws are compensated by a charming Shahid Kapoor. Kriti, in the central character, is adequate in her role but it’s Shahid who manages to put the smile on your face. After a string of intense, gritty roles, it’s great to see the actor let himself loose in a romance, a genre that kickstarted his career. The others, including the dependable Dimple Kapadia and Dharamendra, add nothing new except their star power.
At times, one needs a flick that is worth the money of your popcorn. It need not break any new ground but its purpose is solved if it is easy on the mind and on your senses. So if a light, stress-free watch is your idea of a good time at the movies, then Teri Baaton Mein Uljha Jiya, ticks the boxes.
Rating: 2.5 stars
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