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When crass and crude comedies are the order of the day, it's always enlivening when something off-beat, yet enjoyable comes along. And for a first timer on the big screen, director Nupur Asthana, with a formula that combines some very witty writing with some patently fresh faces, hits it out of the park with Y-Films' Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge.
With the sign of the horns as its logo, the idea behind Yash Raj Films' Y-Films sub-banner is to churn out fare with youth appeal, starring young faces and made by young directors. Though its first release, Luv Ka The End, may not have found currency with its target group, the banner certainly seems to have found the sweet spot with its second release, Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge. A large part of the film's appeal seems to be owed to director Nupur Asthana's background in television, where she was the brains behind India's first high-school drama, Hip Hip Hurray over a decade ago, and more recently, in Mahi Way, for YRF's TV foray, both shows confirmed hits and centred around characters in the generation Y.
Asthana brings the same sort of youth appeal to Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, as she did to her TV series, backing up Pooja Desai and Ashish Patil's story with relatable characterisations and drawing delightful performances from her actors. Desai and Patil, along with Anvita Dutt Gupta deserve kudos for crafting a story and screenplay that, though not really path-breaking, does have a refreshing ring to it.
Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge relates a college romance, a rom-com, full of cross connections. The lead players here are the witty Vishal, a writer, and the sort of shrewish Preity, a photographer with an aversion to boys, having been burnt in love before. Vishal's best mate is Rahul, the college rockstar, who Preity has the hots for, while Preity's best friend is the vivacious Malvika, an aspiring fashion designer, who Vishal lusts after. Their paths cross when Vishal contacts Malvika on a social networking site, pretending to be Rahul, only to have Preity respond pretending to be Malvika. And so begins a twisted romance, as the twosome woo each other pretending to be someone else altogether. In between, as two try to keep up their pretence by getting Rahul and Malvika involved in the charade as well, Vishal and Preity find a connection developing between themselves too. The confusion is eventually resolved in a rather predictable way, though the story is crafted well enough for one to keep enjoying it till the end.
The strength of Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge comes from its core characterisations, none of which seem to be jarring or unrealistic. The slow burning romance between Vishal and Preity, that begins with the two being unable to stand each other, only for them to eventually start connecting, develops very naturally, without being forced. It's also nice to see a movie come along, once in a while, with no negative, or even grey characters, for that matter. The way Rahul and Malvika support their friends along, is quite endearing.
The film also deserves praise for the sort of humour it espouses. Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge is perhaps the first proper teen comedy to come out of Bollywood, and it's nice to see it not delve into gross-out jokes or puerile humour. In that, the writing stays edgy enough to pull the laughs in without overt effort. Vishal and his pal Hacky with their shayaris and hijinks keep the comedy coming through out.
The only point where the writing takes a bit of a dip, is in the climactic moments of the film, where the final reveal is brought in a bit too quickly and handled without force. The confrontation and resolution between Vishal and Preity happens a bit too conveniently for it to sink in, and seems to be a rather rushed job.
Though she's working with rank newcomers, Nupur manages to draw great performances from all her actors. Saqib Saleem, as Vishal, is the star of this set, putting in a great act as Vishal, perfectly witty and delightful throughout. The actor has great looks about him too, and could turn into the next big thing if positioned right. Speaking of looks, the female lead, Saba Azad, as Preity, is quite a find too, delivering a solid performance in her role, starting off slow, but picking up the pep as the movie goes along, playing impish and imperious with equal élan.
Nishant Dahiya is perfectly cast in the rockstar mould as Rahul, with his looks and demeanour, though he has lesser screentime and few punchlines to deliver, compared to Saqib. Tara D'Souza, who was last seen in another YRF venture, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, finds a meatier role as Malvika, and dives into it. She plays her role as the sweetheart friend well, and it is certainly nice to follow a narrative where the hot girl in class doesn't happen to be a vamp.
However, the one person apart from Saqib and Saba who truly deserves praise is actor Prabal Panjabi, who is superbly whacky and crazy as Vishal's buddy Hacky. Prabal lights up the screen with his comedy every time he's on screen and makes the most of his scenes here.
Apart from the humour and the performances, the film's other big strength is the music, delivered by Raghu Dixit. The Southie indie star puts together a superb set of tunes for the film, with not a note out of order. The film's title track, dheaon dheaon, is pure, unadulterated fun, while Dixit's old classic from his concert performances, har saans mein, is used fabulously in the film's outro.
Overall, Nupur Asthana's directorial debut, Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, is a comedy that is lifted beyond the mundane by a variety of factors. For actors like Saqib and Saba, for Dixit's music, and for some real fun, Y-Films' latest outing is a must watch. And with characters like Vishal, Saba and Hacky, who stay with you long after you've left the theatre hall, this is one 'fraaandship' request everyone should accept instantly!