Shaadi Ke Side Effects feels like an extended soap opera

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      Starring Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan. In Hindi with English subtitles. Rated PG. Now playing

      Shaadi Ke Side Effects attempts to answer the question, “What happens to a commitment-phobe when he finally does commit?” Apparently, the answer is that perpetual adolescence is a condition that can never be fully cured in some men. Who knew?

      This film is a sequel to Pyaar Ke Side Effects, wherein Trish proposed to Sid after a three-year relationship and pulled him into matrimony. In the sequel, new actors pick up the story and now Sid (Farhan Akhtar) and Trish (Vidya Balan) are happily married. Soon their “dual income and no kids” life comes to a halt with an unexpected pregnancy.

      The film follows the couple through the next several years while they attempt to negotiate their responsibilities and expectations of each other. Given that it’s produced by Indian television’s reigning queen of serial dramas, Ekta Kapoor, it is no surprise that Shaadi Ke Side Effects feels like an extended soap opera. Without a clear narrative arc, it meanders through their relationship and his bad choices.

      Both leads do the best they can within the limits of the script. While Balan is both beautiful and talented, her character here is flat and left largely unexplored. Akhtar earns laughs as the modern urban man who is both incompetent and stifled in his spousal and parenting roles. While fear of commitment is familiar ground for many Hollywood rom-coms, it’s entirely discordant within the grammar of Bollywood romantic tropes in which love and loyalty are synonymous, and saying you love someone inherently means you want to marry them.

      This is a film that would have worked wonderfully as episodic television. In small doses the foibles of this marriage would be enjoyable. Unfortunately, in large portions it is more than a little tedious.