Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) likes girls ever since she was in school but is afraid to voice her choices in front of her conservative family. Her brother (Abhishek Duhan) knows her secret and is ashamed of it. He considers such an attraction to be a disease and wants her to be cured of it. She keeps going to Delhi to meet the girl she loves, Kuhu (Regina Cassandra). To put a stop to it, he tells the family she’s in love with a Muslim guy. A comedy of errors arises when a Muslim playwright Sahil Mirza (Rajkummar Rao) actually falls in love with her. Would she confirm to the norms and marry Sahil or rebel against the society and fight for her choices forms the crux of the film…

Same sex love is still a taboo subject. And more so in India. It isn’t easy to find acceptance for such a film in the mainstream. So the makers have to be lauded for trying. Actually acceptance is the focus of the story. The heroine isn’t fighting for her sexual orientation. She’s asserting her right to be counted as normal. She’s saying she’s not something exotic to be gawked at but someone as common or uncommon as everyone else. The film points out that people who go for same sex relationships mostly find themselves being alienated from their loved ones. They also go into serial depression and/or a guilt trip and find it hard to come out of it. More often than not, as shown in the film, the family lives in denial upon learning their true nature and force them into unhappy marriages, leading to more misery all around.

All this is said directly as well as indirectly through the device of a play within the film. And everything is dealt sensitively without resorting to any sort of crudeness or titillation. Sonam is shown as a girl who pours her heart out in a diary, whom she considers her only friend. She constantly longs for the same connect with her brother which she enjoyed as a kid. A chance encounter with a stranger, the first man who listens to her and understands her gives her the courage to come out. How norms suppress us is brought out in other ways as well. Her father (Anil Kapoor) longs to be a chef but is always shooed off the kitchen by his mother and told to mind the family business. Thanks to that, he understands his daughter’s choices when he reads her diaries. The climax scene of the play, where he barges in and is shown to be violent towards those wanting to harm her is a powerful expression of his unconditional love. Juxtaposed to Anil’s is Juhi Chawla’s character who after twenty two years of marriage, divorces her husband to finally live her own life and indulge in her twin passions, cooking and acting. Rajkummar Rao is shown to be the son of a successful filmmaker who indulges in theatre because it’s his passion. He doesn’t mind the hardships as he’s being himself — which is the underlying message of the film.

The film belongs to Anil Kapoor. Be it being a mama’s boy even post 50, his sense of fulfillment while being in the kitchen, his simmering romance with Juhi Chawla or his emotional outburst near the end — everything gets his hundred percent and more. Juhi Chawla too shows that she still possesses impeccable comic timing. Her reaction shots with both Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao are spot on. Sonam Kapoor too has given her best as a small-town girl coming to terms with her uniqueness and it’s ensuing complications. Her big moment comes when she finally opens up in front of her father. She keeps it real and doesn’t indulge in unnecessary melodrama. Regina Cassandra impresses in her short but important role. Rajkummar Rao has emerged as a bankable actor over the years and here too he leaves his mark. He’s shown to be this good guy who though being passed over as a lover doesn’t mind being a friend and essays his role with the right nuances.

The film’s heart is in the right place alright and the performances back up its powerful message. The first half is a little slack when it comes to the screenplay and overall the film could have benefited from better editing as well. The music, which has always been a hallmark of Vidhu Vinod Chopra productions isn’t as rousing as in his earlier films. But full marks to debutante director Shelly Chopra Dhar for making a heartfelt film about a topic that needs to be brought out in the open. Let’s hope the film gets people talking about it, especially in our small towns and villages, where closed mindsets still prevail.

TRAILER : EK LADKI KO DEKHA TOH AISA LAGA