A feeble fable masquerading as a robo rom-com, Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya aspires to address what unrealistic expectations in a relationship can lead to, observes Sukanya Verma.
Joining the ranks of terribly long Hindi movie titles, Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya tells the unlikely love story between a human and a bot.
Coexistence between the twain has led to humour, heroics and heartbreak in celluloid terms.
In our movies though, it's still an underexplored theme.
Writer-director duo Amit Joshi and Aradhana Sah;s sci-fi confection shares the high-tech ambitions of Rajinikanth's Enthiran and Shah Rukh Khan's Ra.One but its sitcom brand of laughs bring back memories of Small Wonder, wherein a robot kid's attempts to fit in a classic American family picture results in comedy of errors.
More recently, television show Bahu Humari Rajnikant found success in the booming shenanigans of a scientist's android wife charming her way into a big fat Indian family.
A feeble fable masquerading as a robo rom-com, Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya aspires to address what unrealistic expectations in a relationship can lead to.
For most part of its low stakes shindig though, it's the mechanised talent of a flawless, feelingless being and the enamored responses she generates that liven up the show.
Like Small Wonder's Viki (Voice Input Child Identicant) and Bahu Humari Rajinikanth's Rajni (Randomly Accessible Job Networking Interface), SIFRA is an acronym for Super Intelligent Female Robot Automation.
Designed as a companion robot for the elderly and alone by Aryan’s (Shahid Kapoor) robotics virtuoso aunt in America (Dimple Kapadia), SIFRA (Kriti Sanon) is an Artificial Intelligence experiment-turned-miracle stirring a love-at-first-sight emotions in her finicky nephew.
Kriti Sanon looks like someone who's never had a bad hair day in her life, popped a zit or piled on an extra kilo.
The actor's impeccable beauty is tailor-made for smitten kittens.
Add to that SIFRA's compliant persona programmed to take care of all one needs and zero conflict, isn't that every sexist's dream?
Going by the influx of bad marriage jokes littering the scenes every now and then, courtesy Aryan's henpecked colleague (Ashish Verma), it surely is.
Fantasy fulfillment hits full steam as SIFRA substantiates the 'Jo robot kar sakte hai woh human kabhi nahi kar sakte' belief, ahem, all the way.
Aryan's giddy joyride of love, sex and dhoka goes from wow to weird when his lab rat status dawns upon him. Only, the robotics specialist is now much too head-over-heels to let go of his va-va-voom object of affection.
It's not long before the Pygmalion effect gets underway and Aryan introduces SIFRA to his shaadi-obsessed boisterous joint family in Delhi that's almost always gathered in one room and overflowing with curiosity or cheer in spacious homes straight out of wallpaper catalogues.
Lending it warmth is Dharmendra's sweet grandpa brimming in genuine affection, unruffled by the circus of overenthusiastic relatives played by Anubha Fatehpuria, Rakesh Bedi, Grusha Kapoor, Rajesh Kumar, Brijbhushan Shukla, seasoned small screen stars in restrained form despite the superfluous writing material.
For those well-versed with Small Wonder's puerile humour (remade in Hindi as Karishma Kaa Karishma), Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya is a rerun of the same silly jokes.
Some of the gags that would have landed uproariously if done well, like the garbled timing of SIFRA's airport security check finished off in a jiffy or a GPS boo-boo confusing veterinary hospital for humans, are left high and dry for want of wit.
Instead, I found myself a lot more amused by Dimple Kapadia's sportsmanship for farce.
Between the numerous stylish frames she sports and the panache of a professional in phony territory, it's fun to watch her (and her hologram) inject credibility in an exaggerated scenario.
Unlike Dimple's workaholic avatar, Shahid's Aryan seems to be on a perennial vacation.
Only in Bollywood, robotics look simpler than Lego.
What works is his goofy charm in playing along and not taking any of it seriously.
Ditto for Kriti finding a sweet spot between zany role play and sophisticated software to give SIFRA its moments.
Their sparkling chemistry does its best to draw our attention away from the objectifying gaze and reinforcing of gender roles of Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya's disoriented pursuits until an over-the-top finale better suited for another Bhool Bhulaiyaa sequel pops out of nowhere.
Ducking any kind of ethical discussion for frivolous fun, Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya reverts to Bollywood's romantic comedy roots for all practical purposes.
For all its new age explorations, it's old-fashioned tropes of predictable outcome -- old folks and hospital scares, robots and software malfunctions, climax and special appearances -- never lets the script turn on its head.