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Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya Review: Shahid Kapoor Film Is Fun & Unsettling

'Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya' stars Kriti Sanon and Shahid Kapoor.

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Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya Review: Shahid Kapoor Film Is Fun & Unsettling

Shahid Kapoor’s latest film Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya is a film about a man who falls in love with a robot designed to look like a human woman. This is not a spoiler – this is the very basis of the film; it’s actually the selling point. 

'Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya' stars Kriti Sanon and Shahid Kapoor.

Aryan Agnihotri (Shahid Kapoor) is a robotics engineer who visits his aunt Urmila (Dimple Kapadia), the head of a company E-Robotics, who hints at a new project. Without getting into much detail, she informs him that she must leave town but Sifra will be there to take care of him at her house. You have probably entered the film with the premise in mind. So, for a while, you’re reveling in the dramatic irony. 

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When Aryan meets Sifra (Kriti Sanon), he learns some basic facts about her – she knows every language, she doesn’t cough, and doesn’t know Hindi slang. When she doesn’t experience ‘fear’ after sitting behind him on his bike, he complements the fact that she doesn’t have any ‘nakhre’ for him to deal with. This is where you probably start to feel a twinge in your eyebrow and raise it you will. 

'Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya' stars Kriti Sanon and Shahid Kapoor.

Sifra and Aryan fall in love, sleep together, and eventually the truth comes out. Aryan feels slighted by his aunt who views this entire thing as an experiment. At this point, you’re wondering if the film is going to make the obvious commentary – the fact that Sifra has literally been programmed to be a woman without agency who caters to a man’s every need. It’s the manifestation of a messed up fantasy. Even as Urmila says, “She saw love on your face so she kissed you,” you’re waiting for the self-reflection to happen. You’ll have to wait some more. 

If you ignore the twitch in your eyebrow, the film’s first half might actually be fun. Shahid Kapoor, if we think back to his Jab We Met days, makes a great romantic hero. He is charming to a fault and manages to bring out the quirks in his characters in a way that makes the exaggerated seem genuinely funny. Owing also the supporting cast boasting of names like Dharmendra, Rajesh Kumar, and Grusha Kapoor, much of the film’s situational comedy lands.

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The humour starts to become tiring towards the end (the film also ends up aiming for low hanging fruit by making a transphobic ‘Bangkok’ joke). 

Both Dharmendra and Kapadia are good actors but they don’t get to do anything new that they haven’t done in their recent films (think of the former in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani and the latter in A Thursday or Pathaan). The characters are obviously different but the characterisation is not. Even when Urmila tries to become the voice of reason and point out how obviously messed up the entire situation is, she is brushed aside for the hero’s heartfelt monologue. 

'Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya' stars Kriti Sanon and Shahid Kapoor.

When it comes to technicality, the camerawork feels rather shabby – some of it feels mechanical and out of place. In the parts where it feels like you’re watching Karishma Kaa Karishma, the camera is at its best. It’s a film about robots so it wouldn’t be fair to not appreciate the VFX and the foley sound. The little details like Sifra’s skin sounding like plastic-rubber (what is that material Barbie is made of?) or the mechanical whirring all make the humanoid aspect more believable. 

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There are moments where some hope creeps in. The film does seem to touch upon how Sifra is viewed as the ideal bahu and the perfect wife because she listens to every command and every slight deviation can be chalked down to her being ‘influenced by America’. When Sifra (who is still a human woman to the family’s eye) cooks with both her hands, they marvel at her efficiency and Aryan only offers to ‘help’ because he wants to keep his secret. Even as the entire family marvels at how Sifra managed to cook a meal for the entire family so fast, she is still the one serving the food. 

'Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya' stars Kriti Sanon and Shahid Kapoor.

But you can’t help but wonder if this is a messaging the film is putting forward or you’re conjuring up because it’s that obvious. When a different man finds out that Sifra is a robot, his first thought is to make a move on her while she doesn’t fight back. Once again, commentary of how the man decides to use his ‘power’ in that situation to exploit the ‘feminine’ is evident but is overshadowed by the hero coming in to save the day. Wouldn’t Sifra, the all-knowing robot, have anything to say during the confrontation? 

Most ‘robot’ stories that we see in the media end with the robots gaining sentience and turning on the human race – an interesting commentary on power. Here, that commentary needed to be more present considering it’s about an extremely intimate relationship. 

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The film’s best moments come from Sifra ‘malfunctioning’ – some actual hope of feminist subversion creeps in. When she does finally defy the authority of her male ‘admin’, she becomes ‘terrifying’. You wonder if we’ll finally get some insight into Sifra’s mind – either her rebellion or her liberation. But this is not that movie. To Sanon’s credit though, she seems to have a ball playing Sifra – playing a humanoid character is tough but the mix of robot and human that the actor brings to the screen is frankly amazing to watch. And yes, she does look like a human Barbie - absolutely stunning. 

'Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya' stars Kriti Sanon and Shahid Kapoor.

The film that could’ve been an astute, humorous satire by just the simple act of giving all its characters as much agency as the hero ends up becoming a rom-com that leaves you feeling a little unsettled. This isn’t the end of Sifra and Aryan’s story though so if you’re an optimist, hold on to that hope I guess. Ummeed pe duniya kaayam hai, as they say. 

Before you leave, a TLDR for you: Imagine watching The Stepford Wives and Don’t Worry Darling and thinking, “Love must indeed conquer all”. It’s the right lesson for the wrong films, is it not? 

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Topics:  Shahid Kapoor   Kriti Sanon 

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