‘Comedy Couple’ movie review: Romcom let down by unimaginative writing

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The Saqib Saleem and Shweta Basu Prasad-starrer has a few laughs, but a weak script and the use of old tropes make it a painful watch

The closest match for Comedy Couple in food is Navratan Korma.

You have a male lead who is a habitual liar, the lead pair is billed as India’s first and only standup comedy couple, there is potential for a culture clash: the man’s parents are as traditional as they come while the girl’s single mother paints nude models in Paris. Oh, there is also the familiar tale of a boy and girl in love thrown into the mix.

Except, there are too many cooks who seem to have handled this korma that when you are done watching Comedy Couple, it is hard not to think: maybe, a simple dal could have done the trick.

‘Comedy Couple’ details

  • Cast: Saqib Saleem, Shweta Basu Prasad, Rajesh Tailang, Aadar Malik, Pranay Manchanda, Pooja Bedi
  • Director: Nachiket Samant
  • Storyline: Lies, deceit, broken hearts and a complicated relationship: a romcom story about a standup comedy couple.

Comedy Couple follows the story of Deep Sharma (Saqib) and Zoya Batra (Shweta); the gags and jokes aren’t exactly unimaginative, but the benefit of hindsight does make one think if the standup act itself was irrelevant to the storyline. Deep and Zoya could well have been doctors or trapeze artists in the Great Bombay Circus, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the tried-and-tested formulaic storyline adopted by Nachiket.

 

Deep is a software engineer, but he quit his job to try his hand in stand-up comedy after falling for Zoya. They are in a live-in relationship but the conservative society they live in keeps bumping them around. However, Deep lies about all of it to his parents fearing blowback due to their conservative nature. His habitual lying causes more than its share of rifts in the duo’s lives. Whether or not they patch up and get back — as is the case with romcoms — forms the rest of the story.

Saqib and Shweta exhibit the type of chemistry that is often missing in romcoms. What’s remarkable is that the duo could find the sync so seamlessly despite shooting the film in the aftermath of COVID-19 lockdowns. Shweta is the more composed act of the two; Saqib appears to push harder but falls just short of being convincing in the various acts: love, lies, desperation and despair.

There is very little of note to speak about the film’s cinematography and editing. But considering how post-pandemic movies are going to depend massively on the writing team’s nous, to make it or break it, Comedy Couple’s screenwriters seem to have let it down massively.

(from left) Pranay Manchanda, Saqib Saleem and Shweta Basu Prasad in ‘Comedy Couple’

(from left) Pranay Manchanda, Saqib Saleem and Shweta Basu Prasad in ‘Comedy Couple’
 
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

There are the occasional funny bits involving Deep’s father (Rajesh Tailang) and his friend Rohan (Aadar), but this romcom could have been so much more fun, had the Korma cooks focussed on one of the many ingredients, and then spinning the ideas of love, relationship and despair around it. Due credit for including a superficial take on ‘Gau Mutra’ politics but one would rather watch Kunal Kamra for an unhinged take on the same topic.

Deep Sharma’s lies — deliberate, innocent or the evil type — could have produced more slapstick humour, that is if the writers thought of pushing Saqib Saleem in the direction that he had to be. Putting Rajesh Tailang and Pooja Bedi in the same room too would have produced more ‘comedy’ than what the lead pair achieve on the fictional stage in the film.

There was a time in the ‘90s when romcoms were just normal; every other week would see a project in that genre arrive at the box office. It is no more the case, but even for nostalgia value, it makes sense for writers to pay more attention and compile something that ticks the boxes for the millennial crowd. It is any day better than depending on the same old tropes, and hope against hope that a new lead pair and an unoriginal idea for characterisation could somehow help them hit the jackpot.

‘Comedy Couple’ is streaming on ZEE5

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