Doordarshan Movie Review: The movie written and directed by Gagan Puri sets out to recreate a time when Doordarshan was the only channel on Television. That's supposed to reel us back in time to a period we sourly miss now. It's supposed makes us feel all the feels, especially the ones who grew up devouring everything from Chitrahar to Krishi Darshan to Buniyaad on Doordarshan. But it all ends up as a yawn-fest with such unimpressive comedy that bores you throughout the runtime. When Shah Rukh Khan Played Himself In Priya Tendulkar's Hit Doordarshan Show Rajani (Watch Video).
The plot is simple. The matriarch of the family Darshana (Dolly Ahluwalia) slipped into coma 30 years back and when she finally regains consciousness, the doctor advises the family not to stress her out. Fair enough! That's because a lot has changed since then. Her son Sunil (Manu Rishi Chadha) is no longer a school going boy but a father of two kids on the verge of a divorce from his wife Priya (Mahie Gill). His teenage son Sunny (Shardul Rana) is obsessed with all things erotic from literature to motion pictures, daughter Sweety (Archita Sharma) reaches her school late every day. So you can give it to the doctor to be slightly concerned as to how she will cope up with so many changes.
But Sunil takes that as a cue to recreate 1989 in his house by bringing back Doordarshan on TV. See, the channel is still running but it has lost all the shine of the good old days. So the recreation begins with getting a few stereotypical nods to that time from fixing the antenna, to banging the TV to change channels to a news bulletin done in a seemingly Doordarshan way including the historic Missing person segment. We even remember the address by heart, although the movie didn't go that far, thankfully!
First things first, there was no reason to recreate 1989. Darshana just needed some time to acclimatize with the surroundings and things would have gone back to normalcy. So the trigger point for the recreation seems forced and unrealistic. What's funnier is that the teenagers who had no inkling of what Doordarshan is all about or its lost charm, take the transport to the old world very easily. They don't even have questions apart from looking a bit uncomfortable with what they were made to do.
It's also amusing that Darshana couldn't figure out she is in a different time period looking at her son or rather her reflection in the mirror. She has grey hair and her son doesn't look like a school-going kid anymore. To be fair here, she does seem puzzled as to why Mahie and Manu are getting so wrinkly so early. Shouldn't that be her cue to dig deeper? But it seems she is too lazy to find things out so early in the narrative. When she does find out, a preachy monologue makes it even drabber.
The poor production values get to you as well. Many of the scenes are so grainy that it disturbs the momentum of the film. The recreation of the news bulletin from the past is uninspired at best. It's made to make you laugh but you only feel bored.
Gagan Puri had earlier directed a paranormal thriller titled The Past which released in 2018. Guess he wanted something lighter for his second outing but unfortunately, the purpose is not served here. What's even more jarring is the use of Bollywood stereotypes at a time when the industry is trying hard to destroy that irritating mindset. So you will find the same-old offensive caricature of gays and jokes at the expense of a speech-impaired man. It seems Mr. Puri is still stuck in the late 80s. Resorting to cheap tricks to illicit laughter should be banned in the industry now.
None of the characters have any arc whatsoever. Manu Rishi is perhaps the only one who forgot to go overboard with his acting. Mahie Gill's character doesn't explain any real reason for seeking a divorce. It seemed more like a whim. Dolly Ahluwalia's character is so one-dimensional that it hurts and so is Rajesh Sharma's constant frown face. Even though the movie runs for all of two hours, the characters turn it into an ordeal.
Watch The Trailer Of Doordarshan
Dolly Ahluwalia's over the top Punjabi Dadi act is annoying at best. She adds nothing new to the portrayal that we have seen in countless Hindi movies. Shardul Rana as Sunny keeps it amusing at first with his poker face jokes but that gets repetitive after a while. Manu Rishi Chadha has done better roles and characters before. To see him look confused and all over the place, really hurts. Guess the director's guideline to the cast was to keep it loud and everybody sticks to it to the T. Mahie looks disinterested in a lot of scenes and we wonder why. Did she know this movie is going nowhere?
- When Doordarshan's logo is played on TV.
- The story
- And everything else!
Doordarshan could have been our escape to the time when Jungle baat chali thi pata chala tha but it ended up becoming a Flop Show. You may want to miss this!