I had this friend in school, she believed if you prayed really hard for a baby, Mother Mary would appear when you’re sleeping, do you a solid and ‘Voila!’ you would wake up with a huge belly. (Note: You need to be married to be licensed to use this prayer, obviously!). She was not the only kid who had this bizarre idea of pregnancy; in fact, I bet she was a part of the majority. While being blissfully unaware can often can lead to laugh-out-loud worthy moments, it’s obviously not the best idea!
In India, most of our sex education as kids comes from talking in hushed tones in school toilets where we share very inaccurate explanations with each other, looking up the meaning of these terms in a dictionary and giggling, or from that the one chapter on reproduction in our class 10 textbooks which is conveniently left for ‘self study’. In my case, it also came from a highly conservative catholic textbook from my catechism class that taught us that homosexuality, masturbation or birth control would get you a one way ticket to hell. But the dynamics between religion and sexuality are a talk for another day!
A lot of kids and people now access this information through the internet which can really go either ways. As we all know, there are parts of the internet with questionable and highly unreliable material and at an age when you can’t really distinguish the right information from the wrong one, it can get problematic. Real life conversations around sex are a taboo in India especially between well informed adult parents and their clueless young ones. This may not be the most comfortable conversation to have, but one that must be had nonetheless. If parents shy away from these conversations just out of embarrassment, the misinformation or half truths that your child is collecting is bound to cause disasters. The better informed children are from a young age, the less reckless their sexual behaviour is likely to be. In turn, their lives would be safer and healthier. Khandaani Shafakhana tries to break this taboo.
Khandaani Shafakhana‘s story revolves around Baby Bedi (Sonakshi Sinha). She is a quick-witted small-town Medical Representative from an orthodox Punjabi family; despite her earnest efforts, her modest income never matches up to the mounting bills, resulting in multiple loans & creditors knocking at the family door constantly. One day, she is presented with a unique opportunity. She must choose between her utterly ordinary life or bail her family out of their perennial money crunch by selling off an infamous Clinic which she inherits from her estranged uncle. The “catch” though is the rather unusual conditions he has laid out in his WILL. What follows is the no-holds-barred journey of a girl in a hush-hush world. Along this hilarious journey, this small-town girl breaks taboos, open hearts and ultimately, minds. This movie will help start the conversation on ‘Sex’ using simple metaphors and humour. The humour is on point and so is its timing. At times like these, the line between vulgar and appropriate can get very thin very quick, but the writers have managed to find the perfect balance. At the end of several scenes, they also tackle a bunch of myths surrounding the issue at hand. This movie covers some sensitive topics, in as concise and simple a manner as possible, which I thought was impressive.
Sonakshi Sinha is brilliant and she is very well supported by the supporting cast. She brings life to her character with her experience of the craft. The direction of the film is good but the editing could have been better. When you are making a film that revolves around sex and such themes, it’s tough to make sure you don’t end up with vulgar content. That’s not the case here, and that’s among the best parts of this film. They have especially handled the topic beautifully. It’s something other Bollywood filmmakers need to learn.
Despite an intriguing setup, Khandaani Shafakhana squanders its clever premise with an underwhelming combination of few cheap jokes and a confused family drama. It is still a misfire on a number of levels. Movie fans who are expecting an outrageous raunchy comedy or a thoughtful (and funny) satire about modern family dynamics will likely find that Khandaani Shafakhana – ultimately delivering a disjointed experience that struggles to turn a good idea into satisfying big screen comedy.
Some of the punch-lines seemed forced as well but overall, the film is worth a watch. A cool concept, you get to learn a lot without the show being too preachy. Hopefully, this clinic will have many visitors.