In season 2 of CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, which has the lead character Ted Mosby give a rather detailed account of his journey of meeting and falling in love, there is a wonderful closing dialogue to one of the episodes - “sometimes, even if you know how something’s gonna end, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride.” This was, in a way, a nod to all the fans who were already obsessed with figuring out who the ‘mother’ is. But it also put the ethos of the show in a nutshell… why it connected with viewers… it was the many deep and meaningful moments that would connect to a bigger story. Anyway, why am I talking about How I Met Your Mother? Because ALT Balaji’s new show Who’s Your Daddy? is wannabe HIMYM if it lived in Lajpat Nagar and regularly took viagra.
Indian YouTuber Harsh Beniwal plays the Ted-like ‘Soggy.’ Sorry, it’s 2020 and Nikhil Bhambri is Tidda, a teenager with raging hormones. Caught red-handed by his girlfriend’s father while getting jiggy with her, he is forced to return home and question ‘who’s his mummy?’ Flashback to Delhi in 2002 (how is that to make you feel old) and we are introduced to Tidda’s dad Soggy who runs a DVD rental shop. A good amount of his business is owing to him renting blue films to elite aunties in posh societies around the area. Meanwhile, Soggy’s father (played by Rahul Dev) is a retired subedar and widower who somehow becomes a hit with said aunties because… body. Oh and Soggy also has a love interest, and will supposedly end up some rich media mogul. All of this is meant to come back to culminate the story at the end.
Nostalgia seems to be the flavour that’s lasted a few seasons too long. With shows like Yeh Meri Family, but more popularly the Love Aaj Kal movies by Imtiaz Ali, the sentiment to present something that makes your mind travel back in time, was meant for the familiarity of a fresh perspective across generations. Concept-wise, Who’s Your Daddy? utilises this trope as well. The turn of the new millennium are the glory days for the video rental store. The transition from from VHS to VCD and then DVD. Almost anyone could borrow porn, either from the ‘special collection’ behind a secret door, or from on-your-doorstep service. So this could have been a great point to evoke nostalgia. Unfortunately, this is a one-line concept on paper, and everything else surrounding it is absolutely pointless and silly. By insinuating that this is the business that changed the characters’ lives forever, there was ample opportunity for the writers to turn this into a dark comedy (albeit full of adult humour, as it already possesses). Instead, Who’s Your Daddy? Is just lines and lines of colloquial and expletive-ridden dialogue, nymphomaniacal characters, with mostly unfunny gags. If the point is for us to care about Soggy and his family and friends to take this forward a few seasons, I think I lost interest in who’s the mummy in the first episode itself.
Performance-wise, everyone in the show does a fairly decent job. The guys who flaunt designer wear to the perpetually screaming aunties, the Punjabi part of South Delhi (read: Lajpat Nagar/Amar Colony) holds a special place in film as well. Vicky Donor, Dilliwaali Zaalim Girlfriend, Do Dooni Chaar cashed in on the quirky mannerisms of the people that inhabit the area. I can’t say that any of the actors don’t do well in picking up that local style. But there is no particular performance that stands out because all the characters are so one-dimensional. The hero, the generic sidekick, the jovial Sardar uncle, even the girl who Soggy falls for serve as a pretty prop with not much of character. Anveshi Jain, Lizaa Malik and Kasturi Banerjjee play a trio of seductive housewives who are comparatively given more screen-time. But the overall frivolity of the show is so high that the flash-in-the-pan time spent to explore the loneliness in their marriages comes across as random and superficial.
The biggest drawback that Who’s Your Daddy suffers from is that it really is just a really promising concept on paper which hasn’t been executed well. With the kind of writing it possesses, it is fit for a miniseries or a movie. At least it would be over in two hours. For only six episodes in the first season, nothing really happens except people getting drunk, aroused, dancing around, with the same jokes about nymphomania dragged on endlessly. Essentially, at every point, someone is trying to get into someone else’s pants. There was supposed to be a love story at the centre but both the characters are pretty dull. There’s no conflict, no real connection. And there’s another season on its way.
At various points during the show, dialogue writer Jatin does a terrific job in coming up with new variations to use the ‘b’ and ‘c’ gaalis and other idiomatic one-liners, which is pretty amusing. In a strange way, this attention to detail is a highlight. At the end of the day, Who’s Your Daddy? Is set in a very specific location and during a very specific pre-broadband pre-smartphone time period. There’s no doubt that the director is familiar with that setting because it has a rather authentic feel.
Music and Other Departments:
The production design adds to that authenticity with the setting being so precise. The show uses a mix of original songs and some famous Bollywood numbers which are specific to that time period, again. But nothing which adds a lot of value to the show. In fact, there are severe pacing issues. In spite of each episode being about 17-20 minutes, there are parts which can go a lot faster and will test your patience.
Did I Enjoy It?
Not really. I fleetingly enjoyed the Lajpat Nagar-stamp on the show, but other than the fact that it made me miss the famous gola chuski for a split-second, there’s not much to care about.
Do I Recommend It?
No and yes. Looking for meaningful comedy? Skip it. But if brainless time pass is what the makers were going with this show, then I can’t say that it hasn’t managed to achieve that. I imagine you being to able to get a lot of work done with this running in the background. Don’t have any expectations though. You will stop concentrating after a while.
Rating: 2 /5