Khandaani Shafakhana

wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)

quick review:

A public service announcement on sex education and the taboo associated with it. Wish the writing was like its heart–in the right place.

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Director: Shilpi Dasgupta
Running time: 140 minutes
Genres: Comedy, Social
More Movie Info

It is bold, progressive, and pragmatic. Khandaani Shafakhana’s take on feminism is forthright but not in-your-face. Its take on the social taboo related to sex education and sexual disorders, on the other hand, is more aggressive. Maybe rightly so too. The writing though lets the basic material down–the pace, the situations, the characters, and to some extent, the dialogue too. The attempt at fun is not funny, even though it is not cringe-inducing either.

The attempt at humour doesn’t succeed as it does in Vicky Donor. But, I am still grateful that Khandaani Shafakhana didn’t take the cheap innuendo route through and through the film.

With movies like Khandaani Shafakhana–which are well made visually, have a real-life feel about them because of the texture and how characters speak to each other–the things done well can be taken for granted. The subtlety with which feminism is weaved in the narrative is one such instance. The film doesn’t ask, “why can’t a woman run a sex clinic?” It makes her do it and lets you ask the question and answer it for yourself. That both mamaji (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) and Baby Bedi (Sonakshi Sinha) face the same kind of opposition from society, accentuated the feminism in my mind. Also, the many men in Baby’s life, her brother, grandfather, patient, crush, lawyer, are not the ones she needs to hold her up but are all good-to-haves.

Along similar lines, while the sex awareness drive is blatant, some times the irony and the sarcasm slide through. The bloating population and taboo against the word sex are talked about often, but it also shows up in a casual mention of the age difference between siblings.

Unfortunately, these and other things that are done well, don’t add up to an engaging film. One of the biggest culprits is the pace. Some scenes linger on for a bit too long without serving any purpose. It is not the kind of film where the romance around the subject builds with the slow pace. The situations in the film escalate just after the intermission, which leaves only 30-35 minutes for all the sub-plots to resolve themselves. The resulting rushed climax is not only in complete contrast to the pace of the film so far, but it is not well thought through either. It then feels like the writers wrote with a, “let’s get this over with” attitude.

Thankfully the earnestness of the actors doesn’t wither right till the end. From an over-confident medical representative to a passionate activist, I realised Sonakshi Sinha can be such a joy to watch when cast in such roles versus the loud, 100-crore pluses. I especially enjoyed her act when she narrates stories for the sake of a moral. Hers is the only character with some variation though. Priyanshu Jora looks charming but has this constant goofy smile, irrespective of emotion. The rest of the cast is good but quite monotonous – from Varun Sharma to Kulbhushan Kharbanda to Badshah to even Annu Kapoor.

Indeed, Khandaani Shafakhana has a strong Vicky Donor feel about it. Not only because of the proximity of the subjects, but also because of the way in which it is handled. The attempt at humour doesn’t succeed as it does in Vicky Donor. But, I am still grateful that Khandaani Shafakhana didn’t take the cheap innuendo route through and through the film.

- meeta, a part of the audience

34 reviewers(?) - 3 yays 11 so-so 20 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...With a camera (Rishi Punjabi) that captures Punjab’s inner-city vibes with as much throbbing efficacy as it clasps Baby in tight no-frills close-ups, this is film of far more value than the throwaway lines may initially suggest.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, : ...There is an ancient saying - Neem Hakim Khatra E Jaan ( rough translation – half knowledge can be dangerous) KHANDAANI SHAFAKHANA tries to explore this adage with the sex taboo issue. The movie has glaring loopholes but the subject matter is so relevant. A dialogue by Sonakshi sums it all which goes like, “we need to understand the difference, having a sexual awareness is not being pervert”. Sex education in our nation of kamasutra still remains a taboo, the allegations on Dr. Dr. Mahinder Watsa for obscenity is a befitting example. KHANDAANI SHAFAKHANA is a relevant ‘sex’posure powered by Sonakshi Sinha’s marvelous performance. Do visit this clinic once.... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Watch the film not just for the tricky theme it tackles, but also for the way it does so.... full review

So-So, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Deccan Chronicle : ...But kudos come her way (as also Sinha’s) for attempting to make a bold theme look simple and not farcical, though there are also some very poor jokes cracked on the various aspects of sexuality, which could have been better written.... full review

So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Sonakshi Sinha, who seems to have lost oodles of weight, has given her all to the film. She does come across as a sassy middle-class working girl struggling to better her life. Her tenacity towards her role is admirable and the lack of proper framework doesn't do her justice...... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...On the music front, 'Bheege Mann' tugs your heartstrings. The rest of the songs don't have much to offer. While Sonakshi Sinha's Khandaani Shafakhana has its heart in the right place, its beats are just faintly heard... full review

So-So, by Punarvasu Pendse, : ...The music is average, with nothing that grates on your ears during the movie, but nothing that stands out afterwards either. Ironically, it is the Diana Penty-featuring remix of "Shehar Ki Ladki" that doesn't even feature in the main movie, that is appearing on charts.... full review

So-So, by Vibha Maru, india today : ...Khandaani Shafakhana is at best a one-time watch and is a treat for only, and only, Sonakshi Sinha fans.... full review

So-So, by Ambika Sachin, Khaleej Times : ...Khandaani Shafakhana is not a movie for everyone; it is bold, in-your-face, and makes a strong case for breaking societal shackles around a topic that is still considered taboo in most Asian families.... full review

So-So, by Mohar Basu, MiD DAY : ...I see Dasgupta wanted to have a matured dialogue about sex without the hoopla of it but her story needed stronger legs to carry the weight of her vision.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Despite how this film has turned out, it qualifies as an important one for initiating a dialogue on a pertinent problem that many tend to ignore. That sexual conditions are dubbed as 'gupt rog' (secret disease) in our country itself reveals our discomfort with all carnal matters. A pertinent line in the film clarifies, “Most sexual problems are not rooted between the legs, but between the ears.” And as someone once said, obscenity, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.... full review

So-So, by Piyush Chopra, Now : ...Khandaani Shafakhana had the potential to be a transgressive piece of Cinema with its choice of theme and setup but all it ends up being is a flaccid attempt by Bollywood to capitalize on a social cause for a few extra bucks and momentary pleasure.... full review

So-So, by Amman Khurana, Times Now : ...A bland screenplay and punchless dialogue restrict Khandaani Shafakhana from going beyond the ordinary. It neither works as a comedy nor as an emotional tale. It’s a film that perpetually remains confused about its tone.... full review

So-So, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...In the past, we have seen films like ‘Vicky Donor’ and ‘Shubh Mangal Savadhan’ handle sensitive subjects (read sperm donation and erectile dysfunction) with class, tact and comedy. While this film’s intent is bang on, what it really needed was a heavier dose of humour and entertainment.... full review

Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vertticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...There is so much of this territory that could be further explored. To place a woman at the centre of a film about a Unani sex clinic in an orthodox small town was a stroke of brilliance on the part of the team of Khandaani Shafakhana. Beyond that, the best thing about this film is that it deals with a tricky subject without getting icky at any point. That apart, Khandaani Shafakhana is an opportunity lost.... full review

Thumbs down, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks : ...Summing up, KHANDAANI SHAFAKHANA is neither an enjoyable sex-comedy (as projected) nor an emotional meaningful drama based on a novel plot. More importantly its crucial social message of Sex Education gets miserably lost amongst the silly, forced humour and directionless court proceedings (in the end) mocking the law itself.... full review

Thumbs down, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...Khandaani Shafakhana is one of Sonakshi Sinha's best. She is outstanding in the emotional scenes. What lets her down is a slow narrative and a film that does not pack in punches where it needed to.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...In the end, the film with all its bold evangelizing intentions, says nothing of note, and leaves the actors to wander about the maze in which they find themselves... full review

Thumbs down, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Shilpi Dasgupta is a graduate of the Film and Television Institute. Her student project Mangali – An Exorcism received a special mention at the National Film Awards. How does a CV like that lead to a tepid film like this? Hopefully better things will come!... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...As with every other Punjab-based Hindi film, when there is no explanation for a character’s emotions, “Rab” is invoked. When in doubt, turn to Rab. Or Badshah. Or Annu Kapoor being Bollywood’s favourite progressive uncle. I’m thinking of a clever innuendo to end this review with. But that might only validate a shy film that thinks uttering the word ‘sex’ a few hundred times is reason enough to admire its cause. The fact is that there is no real insight into Indian prudity other than tut-tutting locals and an angry-bird protagonist. So I must quit while I’m ahead. If only Khandaani Shafakhana had done the same. At a concept level.... full review

Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Debutant director Shilpi Dasgupta doesn’t appear to have any clue regarding the mechanics of relatable cinema. Like the many sex-related problems being highlighted as part of the sex-education theme, this film is truly unfinished business!... full review

Thumbs down, by Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ...While the message behind this film is laudable, it isn’t always exciting. If you are hoping that this movie will end with a big bang, you are mistaken.... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...There is, refreshingly, no hero to speak of. Priyanshu Jora, as a nice guy who supports Bedi, doesn’t get any heroic moments except to smile at the girl when most needed, and is known in the film (and the end credits) only as Lemon Hero.... full review

Thumbs down, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...Khan: Clearly, this Mission has not been Mangal for her!... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...This insistence on a ‘balancing act’ lets the film down. Which is a pity because this film could have been something. Annu Kapoor, playing a sympathetic lawyer here, reminds us of Vicky Donor, which first opened up conversation around sex and virility and fertility. Khandaani Shafakhana could have been a great extension, a vehicle to shed inhibitions and talk, really talk, especially with a young woman in the lead. Female desire could have been brought up, not just as a brief joke which perks things up momentarily. But it doesn’t, and the film stays, for most part, flat, and yes, limp.... full review

Thumbs down, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, the intent is pure but the story isn’t pious. This could’ve been another Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, only if it had better writing. Skip it to watch it on a lazy day months from now, still not sure if you’ll be able to finish it.... full review

Thumbs down, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...Varun Sharma has played Sonakshi’s brother and has been wasted. Nadira Babbar is good as her mother but is underutilized. Annu Kapoor is playing a lawyer and his acting here will remind you of his character in Vicky Donor. TV actor Priyansh Jora has essayed the role of Sonakshi’s love interest and has nothing much to do in the movie. Kulbhushan Kharbanda has played mamaji and he is a fantastic actor. Though Sonakshi’s hard work is apparent, the script is sloppy.... full review

Thumbs down, by Priyanka Sinha Jha, : ...Unfortunately, Khandaani Shafakhana is not the film that the doctor ordered as a cure for boredom.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...With so many maladies plaguing the movie, it's too bad there's nothing like a scriptwriting Shafakhana.... full review

Thumbs down, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...Seasoned actors like Nadira Babbar and Annu Kapoor ham it up as the plot unravels beyond all help. Unlike Baby’s patients, “Khandaani Shafakhana” shows no signs of recovery.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, : ...There isn’t enough humour of the gentle or wicked variety across the sluggishly-paced film to communicate its larger themes. Although Baby gets numerous loving close-ups and is present in nearly every frame, the character doesn’t have the heft or kookiness to make her journey interesting. Baby has a tendency to reel off long-winded stories of uncertain provenance as part of her sales pitch, but they go nowhere, just like much of Khandaani Shafakhana.... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...Khandaani Shafakhana may have a laudable message at its core, but gets bogged down by it’s own overly righteous attempt to “educate” — that sex is not gandi baat, ashleel aur aapattijanak (bad thing, obscene and unacceptable), nothing to be shameful about. Baat To Karo, the chits being distributed within the film, exhorting people to talk about “gupt rog” and assorted sex-related issues, in turn are pointers to the film itself becoming humourless and dull pamphleteering. It fizzles out shortly after it starts and we certainly didn’t intend a sexual innuendo here.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rummana, yahoo! India : ...Despite the flaws, the topic is a pertinent one — this is a conversation that needs to happen and people with issues related to sex need to feel that there is no need to keep their gupt rog all that gupt anymore.... full review

Thumbs down, by Ankita Bhandari, Zee News : ..."Khandaani Shafakhana" betrays most flaws that efforts of debutant directors in Bollywood normally do. Hopefully, Shilpi Dasgupta will give us a better second film.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: A few curse words
  • Nudity & Sexual content: The film is about sex education, so lots of talk around that. But mostly about the taboo and why it shouldn’t be rather than any explicit content
  • Concept: A traditional healer who uses herbs to treat sexual disorders dies and has his niece take over his clinical practice in his will
  • General Look and Feel: A nice, real-life Punjabi-town feel

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

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