Review: Happy Family: Conditions Apply is a hilarious concoction of 'Sarabhai...' & 'Khichdi' in the best way
Trust the likes of J D Majethia and Aatish Kapadia (creators of Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai and Khichdi) to bring sitcoms back to relevance, this time in the web space. Happy Family: Conditions Apply arrives with some of the finest actors in a situational comedy that is rare on the web.
Published: Thursday,Mar 09, 2023 18:30 PM GMT-07:00
Happy Family: Conditions Apply
Trust the likes of J D Majethia and Aatish Kapadia (creators of Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai and Khichdi) to bring sitcoms back to relevance, this time in the web space. Happy Family: Conditions Apply arrives with some of the finest actors in a situational comedy that is rare on the web. Having had the chance to see the first four episodes beforehand, here is what I thought about it-
The Concoction of Sarabhai vs Sarabhai & Khichdi But Still Standing its Own
With so much going on in the web space from dramas to thrillers and documentaries, the area of situational family comedies remains niche (Potluck and Mind the Malhotras aside). And who better than JD Majethia and Aatish Kapadia, the brains behind Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Khichdi to arrive with one such show on Amazon Prime Video.
The brilliant part about Happy Family: Conditions Apply is that it somehow seems like a concoction of Sarabhai... and Khichdi, especially when you analyse the character of Ratna Pathak Shah in this show but still standing on its own. There are characters in Happy Family... that seem like they can easily belong to the Sarabhai universe where Pathak Shah's character of Hemlata Dadi is a glorious mixture of being progressive and regressive at the same time like Maya Sarabhai and the Gujarati-ness & elderly stereotype like that of Hansa and Babuji from Khichdi respectively.
While, you might have flashes just like I did but it is no was a case of 'old wine served in a new bottle.' This amalgamation is done expertly and is elevated even more with Pathak Shah's fabulous performance. She is not just the matriarch of the Dholakia family but her comic timing, over-the-top treatment to the character and of course, just immaculate screen presence is the driver of this series.
Signature Writing & Characterisation
I have been the biggest fan of Aatish Kapadia's writing that gives hilarious quirks to all his characters. Be it Dushyant and Madhusudan Fufa in Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, Hansa and Praful in Khichdi or Bharati Gokhale in Bhakarwadi - the quirks added to these characters and the situational comedy it exhibits is fantastic.
That isn't lost in Happy Family: Conditions Apply where we witness the same in the roles played by Paresh Ganatra and Pranoti Pradhan. The scenes they were involved in had me laughing out loud (literally).
Kapadia's writing is undoubtedly the key to the show being as hilarious yet poignant at the same time. We are once again introduced to some epic dialogues and one-liners like 'main toh omlette bhi besan ki khaata hu', 'ATM-anytime mother-in-law', and like Maya Sarabhai was always ready with a monologue insult for Monisha Sarabhai, here we have Hemlata always with a tag ready for her granddaughter-in-law that ranges from 'boycut baidi (wife)' to 'satin chaddi' and so many more.
A Dream Cast With Dream Performances
I have raved enough about Ratna Pathak Shah earlier in this piece but I cannot stress enough how absolutely brilliant are other veteran actors like Raj Babbar, Ayesha Jhulka and Atul Kulkarni. Babbar is the calming factor in this mad Dholakia family and his zingers directed at Hemlata are epic while Jhulka gets to be the selfie-hungry but hook of the Dholakia family. However, apart from Pathak Shah, the one actor that needs me to go 'hats off ' (see what I did there) is Atul Kulkarni. His character is so quirky, lovable and yet extremely adorable. And the actor, who we know for powerful and dark characters gives a memorable performance as Ramesh Dholakia, the elder son.
The younger cast which include the lokes of Raunaq Kamdar as Sanjoy, Meenal Sahu as Tisca and Sanah Kapoor as Aayushi are also great with their portrayal and bring the vibe and relevance that is needed in this ensemble.
Not Compromising on the Emotional Core
With situational comedies, the makers walk a thin line of being overly dramatic just to tick the box of having emotions in the setting; fortunately that isn't the case with Happy Family: Conditions Apply. The show never crosses the line to getting melodramatic but also doesn't miss out on keeping the emotional core intact. One scene where Raj Babbar's Mansukhlal Dholakia explains both his daughter-in-law and granddaughter-in-law about an issue between them is done with such finesse and heart that you instantly feel that emotion.
The one minor downer in the show that occurred for me was when this situational comedy was wavering towards a more continual storyline related to Tisca (Sahu) and her encounter with a leading fashion designer. It felt deviated toward the fourth episode as it was moving away from the Dholakias and I didn't want to move away from them.
Happy Family: Conditions Apply doesn't just live up to the legacy of Hats Off Productions when it comes to delivering witty humor, hilarious situations and some impeccable performances but also makes sure to retain the values without being preachy and instead endorsing progressiveness and realism.
Rating - **** (4/5)