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‘Good Newwz’ movie review: Akshay and Kareena deliver the goods in this comedy of errors

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A mix-up at a fertility clinic leads to mayhem and doubt in Raj Mehta’s film.

In their previous outings, Kareena Kapoor and Akshay Kumar have been mostly wasted as a pairing. But they are in perfect sync in Raj Mehta’s Good Newwz. Kapoor is Deepti, a journalist with a wardrobe to beat Anna Wintour (the eye-watering costumes are by Aki Narula). Kumar is Varun, a car salesman who can afford a 16th-floor apartment in an expensive residential complex in Mumbai.

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Deepti is desperate to have a child, Varun less so, and the couple’s periodic attempts at baby-making lead to hilarious scenes in the early portions of Jyoti Kapoor’s screenplay. Entering the bedroom shouldn’t be like going on a surgical strike, Varun complains, and he performs his husbandly duty as enthusiastically as a forcibly conscripted soldier.

The couple finally seeks professional advice. The Joshis (Adil Hussain and Tisca Chopra) are in vitro fertilisation specialists and the beaming bearers of “good news”, promising to remove all obstacles in the journey of sperm meeting egg. However, Deepti and Varun Batra aren’t the only couple who have made sexual intercourse into a chore. There’s another pair of Batras from Chandigarh, Honey (Diljit Dosanjh) and Monika (Kiara Advani), and a mix-up ensures that Honey’s goods enter Deepti’s womb while Varun turns out to be the one responsible for the swelling of Monika’s belly.

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It’s a clever premise for a comedy of errors, and it also helps that Good Newwz is grown-up and matter-of-fact about adult bodily functions and needs. It all works perfectly until both women get pregnant and questions are raised about the fate of their forthcoming progeny. The Mumbai Batras are posh and polished, while the Chandigarh Batras are walking advertisements for small-town bling. Should Deepti give birth to a child who might resemble the very loud Honey, and should Varun allow his seed to take root in Monika, who mangles her English and does not quite seem to understand what is at stake? The snobbery at the core of this conundrum is taken as seriously as the fate of the bumbling Joshis.

The avoidable and yet seemingly inexorable slide into sentimentality bloats a narrative that works best when it stays in comic mode. The dialogue, by Jyoti Kapoor, Raj Mehta and Rishabh Sharma, produces several zingers, and Varun has the best lines and reactions to the ridiculous situations into which the two sets of Batras are forced. Akshay Kumar is in fine form this time round, and Kareena Kapoor is equally lovely as the highly focused Deepti. They make a far more convincing couple than Honey and Monika, who play up the Punjabi stereotypes and conform to the tired notion that hicksters have a bigger heart than city slickers. Varun’s disinterest in his wife’s pregnancy is contrasted with Honey’s attentiveness to both Deepti and Monika. Honey might be as subtle as the rapper whose first name he shares, but the movie suggests that he da man.

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Why not simply adopt? The answer to this question, as well the other one about whether Deepti should abort her child before causing further mayhem, gets the conservative treatment that is to be expected from a movie that celebrates the need to converse the gene pool. Good Newwz is orthodox about the necessity of childbearing (compared to a blessing from above) and abortion (treated on par with murder), but also speaks up for the right of women to bear children no matter who the father is. The news is mostly good for everybody concerned in the movie, expect for those who believe in abortion or adoption in the real world.

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