Some movies fall in love with their title and take it so literally, you have to wonder if the title was conceived in order to best serve the story or in fact the other way around. “Behen Hogi Teri” is based on the tenuous premise that all boys in this Lucknow neighborhood are raised to regard all the girls in the area as their sisters. But one such fella, Gattu (Rajkummar Rao), is hopelessly in love with his spunky neighbor Binny (Shruti Haasan). “Knicker ke zamaane se mohabbat hai,” he tells us.
The film, directed by debutant Ajay Pannalal, is a romantic comedy that arises from the unenviable situation that Gattu finds himself in – watching the girl of his dreams get engaged to another man because he can’t seem to declare his love for her. What works, charmingly, is the real, lived-in flavor of Lucknow, complete with nosy neighbors, bickering parents, and dialogues that evoke genuine chuckles. The film’s supporting cast does a swell job too, particularly Ranjeet and Gulshan Grover as neighborhood goondas who become embroiled in the story, and Herry Tangiri who plays Gattu’s cheeky best friend Bhura.
Expectedly the film’s biggest strength is leading man Rajkummar Rao who plays Gattu with real feeling. He’s an unlikely hero; a drifter who floats through life, his only purpose to claim Binny. But he’s clever, slipping out of tangled situations, manipulating others with his innocent ways. Rao imbues Gattu with an innocence and simplicity that feels authentic despite his machinations.
Where the film slips up is in its writing. The plot, which starts off on a curious note becomes especially convoluted in its second hour. The laughs are now few and far between, and the screenplay takes forever to come to the point. A big part of the problem is Binny: both the character and the casting. She’s supposed to be the neighborhoodpatakha, but Binny is impenetrable and occasionally off-putting. Doesn’t help that Shruti Haasan comes off stilted. It’s hard to see why Gattu is so besotted by her.
But if you must, watch “Behen Hogi Teri” as proof of the fact that solid actors can sometimes elevate ordinary material. Rajkummar Rao grabs your attention, even in scenes where he has no lines to speak. He has impeccable comic timing too – just watch him in the scene where he must give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Binny’s grandmother, or where he consoles his humiliated buddy who’s just been slapped by Binny’s brother.
I’m going with two out of five for “Behen Hogi Teri”. You’d wish the makers had trimmed its flabby bits; there was potential here.