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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Helmet Review: Normalises Condom Conversation Amidst Tepid Comedy

After months of anticipation, ZEE5 finally announced the premiere of Helmet, directed by Satram Ramani, Produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions and actor Dino Morea’s DM Movies.

The film highlights one of the most pertaining issues in our society – the resistance of people to buy condoms through the medium of entertainment.

Set in the small town of Kanpur, Helmet revolves around the story of Lucky (Aparshakti Khurana), a wedding performer who dreams of opening his own wedding band and marrying his crush, Rupali (Pranutan Bahl), a flower decorator at weddings.

But they can’t be together because Rupali comes from an affluent family and Lucky struggles to make ends meet.

Desperate to make some quick money to fulfil his desires, Lucky conspires with his friends—Sultan (Abhishek Banerjee) and Minus (Ashish Verma)—to rob the goods truck of an e-commerce portal.

But to their surprise, the looted boxes contain condoms instead of electronic gadgets. What this compels Lucky and co to do forms the movie’s crux.

The concept and theme of normalising condom use and conversations in Indian society is itself a winner.

Given that there is an influx of ‘infotainment’ films in Hindi cinema, Helmet is quite relevant and a need of the hour. Plus, the good thing is that the subject matter never gets preachy. It is complementary.

I quite like how an actual helmet is used as a synonym for condoms and the fact that it is worn to sell them so that stigma is prevented.

This headgear is showcased to be a symbol of societal complexities and double standards. In fact, this item alone is like an instrumental character in the film.

Rohan Shankar, who has written some wonderful works recently like Mimi, once again writes some decent comedic (at places) yet socially relevant lines. They are funny and keep the viewers engaged, especially during dull moments.

However, the movie is majorly let down by the lacklustre screenplay and direction. I feel that the storyline relies heavily on a paper-thin story and narrative.

A formulaic love story and a comedy of errors that catapult protagonists into a bottleneck situation, these are aspects that we’ve all seen before and offers no novelty in terms of compelling storytelling.

Given that sex is not usually a common subject during table talks, the topic has been depicted in a family-friendly manner, wherein audiences can watch the movie, without double meaning jokes or undue explicitness.

Satram’s direction, though, holds no grip whatsoever and serious scenes are disjointed with the comedic sequences.

Even though some important points are raised in those parts, the seriousness gets diluted because of how weakly they are portrayed.

Furthermore, the dearth of a good background score impacts the cinematic appeal. Whenever selling condom scenes occur, one repeatedly hears ‘Mauka Mauka’ and it honestly becomes quite irritating.

The talented cast tries their best to save the film. Aparshakti Khurana gets his first opportunity as a lead actor and he displays confidence. There is an instant liking to his on-screen persona and presents the character well.

Similar can be said for Pranutan Bahl too. Given that her first role in Notebook was more mature, she tries well in playing a sharp and spunky girl of today in Helmet.

But somehow, better-written characters would’ve done justice for both Aparshakti and Pranutan’s parts.

Abhishek Banerjee is a sheer delight to watch on screen. His presence is simply engaging and fun. But again, due to the lack of a strong direction and writing, the performance doesn’t quite get its due credit.

Helmet was promising and had everything in its favour – a solid subject matter and a great cast. But sadly, the final product falls flat. I just wish that it was handled better.

⭐⭐.5 (2.5/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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