Let’s be honest – nobody was expecting a movie titled Good Newwz to be sensible or deep. (Oh, that spelling!) But is it too much to ask that topics like infertility, IVF, and motherhood be treated with a little bit of maturity?
To be fair, Good Newwz sees itself as a comedy, and Akshay Kumar’s comic timing is at its best. But whenever the movie tries to be ‘serious’, it falls flat.
Good Newwz revolves around two couples who are trying IVF to have children. The twist – both have the same surname and the clinic mixes up the sperms of the fathers by mistake. What follows is a tale of how the two couples cope.
But make no mistake, the movie doesn’t miss out on too many stereotypes. It could be because the movie really wanted to show us how frustrating the wait for natural pregnancy can be, but in the first 10 minutes itself, Akshay’s character Varun Batra whines about having to impregnate his wife – in a scene copied almost line-by-line from the sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S. You could say the film immediately establishes the heroine as the typical Indian wife, making her husband’s life miserable – even when it comes to sex.
Two Women But Zero Logic
In her second movie-outing after becoming a mother herself (Veere De Wedding in 2018), Kareena Kapoor plays entertainment journalist Deepti Batra aka Deepu. Wife to Varun, she is unapologetic about her career ambitions ‘delaying’ motherhood, and often loses patience with the nosey aunties about their unwelcome questions. You may say that she is the perfect modern woman, happy with her choices but the film does little to build on that.
Instead, conventional gender norms of women as child-bearers and nurturers form the crux of the story. Despite the frustration about the sperm mix-up, Deepu does not want an abortion because she believes it is murder (and because her doctor – yes, the one responsible for the sperm mix-up – nudges her into that direction). What is ‘choice’ when it comes to stereotypes?
Kiara Advani plays Monika Batra, the most unrealistic and ridiculous character in the movie. She is married to Honey Batra (Diljit Dosanjh), who is also a caricature made up of every possible Punjabi stereotype. There is a scene when Monika confesses that she feels bad about her husband caring more about Deepu’s pregnancy (with his sperm), but she doesn’t mind – because motherhood is the most important to her.
Monika may be a college graduate but is subjected to jokes about her small-town naivete, English mispronunciations, and, well, farting. But hey, at least Indian cinema finally accepted women as human beings with normal bodily functions.
Womanhood as Motherhood
After Karan Johar apologized in 2016 for the ridiculous portrayal of femininity in his 1998 blockbuster Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, one would have expected his production house (Dharma Productions) to be a bit more woke today. After all, Kapoor & Sons (2016) did try to do damage control after what Dostana (2008) did to the gay community.
But sadly, Good Newwz gives no good news on that front. Except in one scene – towards the end of the film – when Deepu tearfully gives a lesson on the experience of pregnancy to her indifferent husband, the movie is undeniably done from the male point of view. For instance, Varun is worried about having to clean the baby’s poop, but not once does he mention the joys of fatherhood though he is shown to be pretty on board with the prospect of having a baby.
Besides the anti-abortion propaganda, both couples are also keen on expanding their respective lineages because blood is thicker than water, which is pointed out whenever adoption is mentioned. At a time when we need to open up discussions on normalising adoption, the scriptwriters are clearly living in the regressive past.
When will Bollywood Grow up?
Deepu vaguely reminds one of Kareena’s Kia in Ki and Ka (2016), a career-focussed woman who wants nothing to do with motherhood. In this film by Balki, at the instance of a pregnancy scare, when the husband suggests abortion but Kia can’t accept it even though neither of them wants to have a baby.
However, Ki and Ka did accept that women may not want to have children without making Kia look like a villain who doesn’t understand that the sole purpose of a woman is to produce babies.
But Good Newwz blatantly tells you that a woman is not complete without being a mother – and if she chooses not to, well, that’s not even a choice in this plot.
While Good Newwz is entertaining, remember to leave your brain at home before going to see this one. The climax does not give a sense of ending to the story and the two couples never really find a common ground for their future. It is pretty clear that their babies are bound to have issues growing up. Hopefully, that will not lead to a sequel.