Director: Jagdeep Sidhu
Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Neeru Bajwa, Jagjeet Sandhu, Hardeep Gill, Anita Devgan, Gurpreet Bhangu
Shadaa, which means bachelor in Punjabi, is a usual story of two people falling in love and getting married. But it has been disguised as an anti-marriage tale. Vanjhali (Neeru Bajwa) claims, “Ek aurat nu bande di oni hi lod hundi hai jinni ek machhli nu cycle di.” (A woman needs a man only as much as a fish needs a bicycle). In return, Chadta Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) says, “Ek bande nu aurat di oni hi lod hundi hai jinni ek dadu nu rajai di.” (A man needs a woman only as much as a frog needs a quilt.)
But these principles remain mere statements. They don’t reflect in the characters’ behaviour. The real reason Vanjhali is not getting married is because she wants a son for her parents, and not just a son-in-law – basically a ghar jamai. And Chadta is not getting married because he can’t find the right girl. Vanjhali and Chadta meet, and inevitably fall in love with each other. But how do they go back on their anti-marriage stance? This forms the crux of Shadaa.
The first two hours are built solidly and the laughs keep coming every minute. Sample this: When a girl’s family comes to see Chadta, his family would offer the prospective in-laws daaru and murga. Chadta’s family had 45 roosters. One rooster is killed every time a potential in-law comes in. At one point, only 8 roosters are left. So when the news of a new match arrives, it’s the roosters who flee the home first! There’s also the scene where Chadta Singh, a photographer by profession, goes for a pre-wedding shoot and gets surprised on seeing a beautiful woman paired opposite to a not-so good-looking man. He quips, “Ghoreya nu ni mildi grass, te gadhe khande Chavanprash.” (Horses can’t find grass, and donkeys are having Chavanprash.)
The last half an hour drags too much, much like filmmaker Jagdeep Sidhu’s previous feature Qismat. But thankfully, unlike that film, there are no emotional manipulations here.
As for the performances, Diljit Dosanjh is convincing as usual, though he appears a tad too loud at times. Neeru Bajwa is also effective in portraying her change of heart, without using any words. Surprisingly, the songs are pretty mediocre.
The movie doesn’t explore the option of living life with a loved one without getting married. Even the leads aren’t shown to be self-sufficient enough to lead a life of singlehood. Yet, the movie offers a fresh take on some age-old practices like the girl’s family giving blankets to the boy’s side at the milni (a wedding tradition), or the difference between the turbans of the girl’s father and the guy’s father. But all this remains a prod, more than a poke.