Films on taboo topics have a potential to be a full-blown parody of society. That is exactly what Shilpi Dasgupta’s directorial debut Khandaani Shafakhana, set in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, sets out to do. The film revolves around a sex clinic founded by Hakim Tarachand (Kulbushan Kharbanda), who was cold-shouldered for his open stance towards sex education.
Tarachand’s eventual death sees the clinic in a state of crisis. Advocate Tangra (Annu Kapoor) reveals that Tarachand’s will bequeaths the sole ownership of the clinic to his niece Baby Bedi (Sonakshi Sinha). As a perpetually-travelling medical sales representative who is frustrated with her job and the economic struggles at home, Baby Bedi decides to take up the challenge and run the clinic.
But it comes with the rider that she spends six months in the clinic and appoints a registered doctor; if all goes well during this period, the ownership gets transferred to Bedi legally. Her family, which has always had reservations about Tarachand’s clinic, is totally aghast at Bedi’s decision. After all, majority of India, especially the small-town, still have unwritten rules on what women can and cannot do. The crux of the film deals with Baby’s struggles against such societal norms.
The film tries to deal with the topic of sex education and while it is brave of the makers, the execution is somewhat wanting. The major problem is the muddled treatment—it is neither a comedy nor a drama. As a result, it comes across as a confused mishmash. Sonakshi Sinha puts in an earnest performance as the ambitious Punjabi girl but the script lets her down.
While Sinha is in her elements, Varun Sharma as her sibling tries too hard to be funny. Kulbushan Kharbanda makes an impact in a cameo and Annu Kapoor is reliable as always. Priyanshu Jora, whose character isn’t named in the film, is decent in his portrayal as Bedi’s affable friend. The major surprise is singer Badshah, who makes his acting debut in this film and is a riot with his mannerisms.
The film does have its moments, especially in the first half where Bedi faces one challenge after another in quick succession. Post-interval, however, the film totally fizzles out.
Khandaani Shafakhaana addresses a topic that’s still considered taboo in our society. With better scripting, this film could have been an eye-opener like Vicky Donor. Kudos to the idea but eventually, Sonakshi’s endearing performance is all that we can take away from this film that’s half-baked in its execution.