Doordarshan (2020)

When the family's grandmother wakes up, the parents who have been bickering over their suicide are compelled to revive their marriage and keep the peace at home.


STORY: A dysfunctional family winds the clock back to the Doordarshan era when Darshan Kaur (Dolly Ahluwalia) comically wakes up after a long, coma-induced slumber.

REVIEW: Obsessed with pornography, Sunny (Shardul Rana) is seen hitting on the landlord’s daughter, while his perpetually anxious father Sunil (Manu Rishi Chadha) is on the verge of getting divorced to his crazy wife Priya (Mahie Gill). Meanwhile, there are intrusive neighbours, a speech-impaired friend and gay stereotypes liberally thrown in for some questionable comic relief. These eccentric characters set the tone with their parallel narratives.

Carelessly sidelined up until now, the bed-ridden grandmother (biji) is the one who actually binds them together. It’s been 30 long years since the authoritative Darshan Kaur had last seen the world, however, she wakes up to find everything unchanged. The reason: The doctor advises that she must not be put through any stressful situation, which includes the sudden shock of adapting to a whole new world ⁠— a new generation, new gadgets and the new-age people with ideas far different from those of her time. So, the family does everything they can to wind the clock backwards. It means bringing back the old-world charm within the four walls of the house and transforming the decor with all that’s vintage. Not just that, the family and neighbours also pull in all their might and wit to enact a news bulletin on television, just like the way it was presented in the Doordarshan era. The only difference is that they talk about current affairs, which the sweet old granny is oblivious to. The scenes are set to evoke humour, and yes they did have potential, too, but they fail to do so. And the rest of the story unfolds when she steps out of her house and sees the real world, with no filters or cover-ups.

The climax seems crammed into the last few frames, aimlessly rushing through the pivotal character’s journey. This leaves the audience with pointless fragments of conclusive statements. Interestingly, the plot of this slow-paced comedy of errors faintly reminds you of Doordarshan’s popular 80s show, ‘Daadi Maa Jaagi’. Director Gagan Puri’s ‘Doordarshan’ had an interesting plot at hand and there was so much he could do with it, but he just about scratches the surface. Even the music of the film fails to complement the scenes. However, a few emotional moments do manage to shine through.

Dolly Ahluwalia, being the last one to grab the spotlight, evidently struggles to commit to her melodramatic persona, but she’s not the only one who underperforms in this film. Shardul Rana’s delayed reactions and Manu Rishi Chadha’s weak comebacks don’t quite land. Rajesh Sharma and Supriya Shukla’s average dialogues do nothing to add to the humour or drama. In all of this, it is Mahie Gill who stands out with her fine act. And despite their limited screen time, Archita Sharma (as the daughter, Sweety) and Mehak Manwani (as Sunny’s love interest, Twinkle) do manage to pack a punch.

The biji, who’s just woken up to a new world, puts her values to use (which some might consider old-world) to unknowingly fix a few new-age problems, including interpersonal relationships and family dynamics. But sadly, that couldn’t fix the film as a whole.

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