Ujda Chaman, with Sunny Singh in the lead, is set in the heart of the polluted Indian capital city of New Delhi, but the film comes like a whiff of fresh air.
Singh plays a college professor, Chaman Kohli, who is balding prematurely. He is the subject of much ridicule and is continuously getting rejected by girls because of his baldness. Things get uglier when an astrologer predicts that he will remain unmarried forever if he does not tie the knot before he turns 31.
It leads to embarrassing scenes in a situational comedy, a genre in which Singh has thrived with films such as Pyar Ka Punchnama 2 and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety.
However, balding is a topic of agony for those suffering from it and can lead to depression and inferiority complexes.
Ujda Chaman handles both sides well and the comic scenes from the first half effortlessly switch gear to a serious level in the second.
The oil that helps the fluid narrative is a good script from Danish Singh. Even though the film is an official remake of a 2017 Kannada movie Ondu Motteya Kathe, the plot from Raj Shetty, has been nicely moulded to the locales of a Punjabi neighbourhood while Singh teaches at Hansraj College, the same institution from which Shah Rukh Khan graduated in real life.
As if influenced, Singh raises his skillset to underline a wider talent. Also chipping in commendably is the support cast with Singh's family members and Sharib Hashmi as the college peon. Co-producer Abhishek Pathak makes his directorial debut with Ujda Chaman, and he certainly has a promising future in store calling the shots behind the camera.
Pathak's Ujda Chaman released a week earlier than Bala after a me-first battle to hit the screens as both films coincidentally deal with the same premature balding topic.
Ujda Chaman also highlights other complexes people can have. Singh's search for a bride stumbles to a chance date with an overweight Maanvi Gagroo who plays Apsara Batra.
Gagroo has been busy in 2019 with four projects - the web series Tripling and Four More Shots Please, and Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan film lined up for the final weeks of the year, but Ujda Chaman will certainly be a highlight.
Another television star who gets to showcase her talent belatedly is Grusha Kapoor (Tara fame, 1995) as Singh's mother. Although not quite believable as the mother of a 30-year-old son, she shines every time on the screen.
There are some slippery moments in the first half and a song too many. But a hurried pace makes it bearable. The veteran Saurabh Shukla has two scenes, and yet leaves a powerful impact. Incidentally, Shukla is also part of the cast in the rival film Bala. Pathak has filed a court case against Maddock Films, producers of Bala citing copyright infringement. The hearing is due on Monday.