As a lifelong Disney aficionado I can tell you that we are a fiercely loyal bunch. Even as adults we still swoon over Prince Ali still cry every time we watch The Lion King and if attempting to brush your hair out with a fork a la Ariel is a crime then lock us up and throw away the key because we’ve all done it.
Now amongst the Mary Poppins’ and Pirates of the Caribbeans enters a desi edition of the Princess Diaries that is all our own.
Starring Sonam Kapoor and Fawad Khan it is contemporary take on a tale as old as time girl meets boy girl thinks he’s a frog and boy thinks she’s insufferable girl kisses frog and turns him into the prince of her dreams.
Khoobsurat is in essence a romantic comedy and is one that works even without the Disney banner. What that name lends to the film is assisting the audience in their suspension of disbelief and making the larger than life characters seem believable.
Yes the film is predictable and recycles well known rom com and fairytale tropes but the packaging is in such shiny and colorful paper that one is enthusiastic to unwrap it and see what lies in store. The result is a film that is surprisingly layered and feel good in every sense of the word.
At one point during the film Sonam’s Milli tells Fawad’s Vikram that he does not look like a prince at all. That is the first point during the film where the viewers question her sanity.
Fawad is the spoonful of sugar that makes the slightly bitter Milli medicine go down in an utterly delightful way. Regal lethally charming debonair and every other variation of tall dark and handsome that you can think of Fawad’s Prince Viku is the knight in shining armor of every girl’s dreams and he doesn’t look half bad with the armor off too.
Bollywood is going to want to keep this one because he puts all their Ranveers and Ranbirs to shame but sorry guys this one’s ours. Find another Khan to take over Shahrukh, Aamir and Salman’s throne but good luck finding one that sits it so well and so naturally.
The chemistry between the supporting cast is stellar as is the development of the connection between the two leads. What starts off as furtive glances out the corner of their eyes develops into something that pulses off the screen every time Fawad and Sonam share it and the viewer can’t help but root for them despite how wrong they are for each other.
Director Shashanka Ghosh makes clever use of the characters’ inner monologues to reveal their true feeling towards one another. It’s these small details that make the film believable as a contemporary love story where the happily ever after is not a glittering castle in a faraway land but working up the courage to say ‘I love you and I accept you despite all your shortcomings.’
It’s all very Pride and Prejudice and that can never be a bad thing.
The tagline for Khoobsurat reads ‘The Royal Misfit’. Misfit is right only I don’t think the marketing team was talking about Sonam but they might as well have. She embodies the klutzy irritating nature of Milli to a T only she’s perhaps a little too convincing and the viewer can be forgiven for wondering if she is acting at all. To put it simply she is not.
Sonam is simply being Princess Kapoor waiting to be handed her crown the entire film.
Milli’s ineptitude is social situations is stretched a bit far and leaves the viewer wondering if she is happy go lucky or borderline mad. She definitely sells the ditzy aspects of Milli’s character with perhaps a little too much ease.
Prince Vikram’s initial aversion to her certainly seems like Fawad is not acting at all. One can’t help but wonder what magic another actress might have brought to the role for this one only makes it work when she is playing off her leading man or her mother Manju played by Kirron Kher. While she doesn’t bring anything new this time around either Kher is still lovable and hilarious.
A final point: there’s bohemian and artsy and then there’s just colour blind. Milli’s fashion sense lies firmly in the latter category. Sonam slid by in Aisha because of how stylish she looked on screen but her wardrobe in Khoobsurat is truly horrendous.
Putting much of Sonam aside Khoobsurat keeps a smile on your face throughout its duration one that will turn into a wide grin by the time the end credits roll.
Despite it’s caricatures for characters it’s clichés and predictable plot the film is cheeky relatable in its relationship drama and just magical enough to be embraced into the fold of our beloved Disney fairytales. This is one story that you will wish was yours.