When we first meet Deep Sharma and Zoya Batra, it’s the green room of a comedy club. The couple, who are already more than a few months into their courtship (and living together), are getting ready for a major stand-up gig. They’re cute, sure, and then they make their way to the stage. The former IT employee and his stand-up girlfriend (I guess) have the distinction of being ‘India’s first and best comedy duo (objectionable).’ So then begins the routine of comparing a relationship to beer - from the initial attraction to the unforgettable romance to the pain of boredom and then eventual separation - basically, from cold to warm to lukewarm beer. The fact that this analogy, vague as it is, will be the plot of our rom-com is a given. Will they survive as the courtship becomes mundane?
What is the story about?
The answer to this question: Who cares? Both Saqib Saleem and Shweta Basu Prasad are very talented actors and it’s not like we haven’t seen them carry a movie before, but in a film where the ‘couple’ is the ‘comedy’ i.e. the pair has to give a comedic performance as much as make us believe they’re in love, Comedy Couple is a severe mismatch. The film is already in dangerous territory of being a romantic comedy about a couple who are already in love, so the conflict and resolution need to be really solid. Unfortunately, what forms the crack in Deep and Zoya’s tale is that Deep is a pathological liar, and his orthodox parents have no clue about his new career and ladylove. Meanwhile, Zoya has lived an unconventional ‘boho’ life (her mom was a teenage pregnant runaway and now indulges in promiscuous relationships with her model muses as an artist in Paris) and just wants a normal life. What follows is a series of hit-or-miss gags around this difference in lifestyle which creates an on-and-off relationship between the two, with more than a lackluster happy ending.
Before people heckle me for hating on the genre (I love romcoms), I have seen the ‘opposites attract’ formula work before, and work like a charm. It’s odd that I sense such a lack of chemistry between Deep and Zoya (in spite of getting your coffee-sharing pillow-fighting cutesy love song) because funnily enough, it is less due to the acting and more due to the writing. There are some serious chuckle moments in Comedy Couple. Hear me out… Deep and Zoya’s frustrated broker in Gurgaon is hilarious, their frustrated manager is hilarious, a few interactions between his father (played by Rajesh Tailang) and Deep are hilarious, a sequence featuring an extremist having a ‘gaumutra’ party on his terrace is hilarious, and almost anything, anything said and done by the pot-smoking Aadar Malik as Rohan is more hilarious. Sense the pattern? The only people who aren’t all that hilarious in ‘Comedy Couple’ are the comedy couple - Deep and Zoya. There isn’t a single scene or dialogue or even a bit from their stand-up gig which is funny, and they largely serve as foils to other funnier characters to play off of. It’s just that scenes with the small characters are so few in between, due to the obvious restrictions of the genre, that the film comes across as a flat series of jokes that make up a set, some of which that work really well and some of which that don’t.
A lot of ‘Comedy Couple’ is reminiscent of the Jason Segel-Emily Blunt film ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ in the way the writers are forced to create a setup that befalls the couple and forces them to part ways, even though it makes no sense. There are also some tired tropes of the genre making an appearance - the fact that Zoya’s mother (played by an over-the-top Pooja Bedi) hates Deep because he’s a man, her best friend also hating him because… (who knows), the alibi given by Deep for lying his way through life, his mum only caring about feeding him, and the two unable to work together after the breakup. There’s an unnecessary jail-related subplot (because the writers wanted to ensure we know how easily FIRs are lodged against comedians). The actual climax of the film where Deep and Zoya part ways, he repents, and they reconcile, is out of something scribbled on a napkin. To take a formula and place it into the unique filter of a couple who work together in comedy (making it easier to write-in jokes) makes for a fresh premise for the genre, but this premise doesn’t encompass plot and play, and just remains a noble thought, a reminder of what this film may have been with stronger writing.
As I mentioned before, I really enjoy the work of the leading pair - Saqib Saleem in films like Mere Dad Ki Maruti and Mujhse Fraandship Karoge, but I don’t really see him doing anything new since what he achieved in these comedies several years ago. Shweta Basu Prasad is an excellent emoter, but this is a verbose role and she comes across as a bit loud and annoying in some scenes. Both Saqib and Shweta are good looking and charismatic, though, and do look the part of a yuppie urban millennial couple. Honestly, though, I am far more interested in watching whole films, if not web shows, on the lives of Pranay Manchanda, Jasmeet Singh Bhatia, Subha Rajput and Rajesh Tailang as the smaller characters in the movie. The completely zoned-out Aadar Malik is a spin-off character in his own right, using the right metaphorical anecdotes and the right devil-may-care attitude at the right places.
Music & Other Departments
There are some melodious indie-style tracks on the soundtrack which you may like. The production value and cinematography of the film is pretty standard.
Comedy Couple has some genuinely funny scenes which are based on quick quips and witty wordplay-based banter. The jokes aren’t lacking in number as much as they lack inflow and context. You’ll laugh at some places, genuinely. The actors are pretty competent.
The rest of Comedy Couple, the love story at its core, is pretty forgettable and lacks an endearing quality. There is no depth to the plot. The stand up just isn’t funny. The lead pair seems to try too hard to no effect. The movie starts with some momentum and really staggers in the middle, and plummets towards the end.
Did I enjoy it?
I don’t care for it. The only thing I remember from the film is Aadar Malik explaining how he manages to use the toilet and showing up stoned to the sessions court, and the ‘jugaadu’ broker’s face. I’ve forgotten everything else.
Do I recommend it?
I mean… many of us use light and forgettable films as white noise as we do something more important. Comedy Couple is that at best, and forgettable at worst.