'Double XL' movie review: Another social comedy that misses the bus

Even as a ‘concept’ film, Double XL lacks the kind of necessary comic zing that actually wins over audiences

author_img Express News Service Published :  08th November 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  08th November 2022 12:00 AM

A still from the film, 'Double XL' starring Sonakshi Sinha and Huma Qureshi. (Photo | YouTube screengrab)

Political correctness can crop up in the weirdest of places. In the 2017 Telugu hit Arjun Reddy, the lunkhead hero disparagingly labels a college junior ‘fat chick’. When the film was remade in Hindi, the phrasing was changed to ‘healthy chick’. Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga and lead star Shahid Kapoor probably figured that saying ‘fat chick’ in a contemporary mainstream Hindi film would be going too far. So they toned it down in a sensitive story about shooting up drugs after slapping your girlfriend.

Satram Ramani’s new film, Double XL, does not bother with such politesse. “I’m overweight,” retorts Rajshri (Huma Qureshi), sharply upbraiding a prospective groom who tries trading in euphemisms. An aspiring sports presenter from Meerut, Rajshri has her ears perked for cruelty—whether in the casual dismissal of a stranger or the extended scoldings of her mum, who blames her daughter for not slimming up to look marriageable enough. “Tees lag gaya hai tumko (you’re pushing thirty),” she sobs, as though describing the onset of a disease.

With her mother’s (begrudging) permission, Rajshri arrives in Delhi, hoping to land a presenter’s post at a big sports channel. She clearly deserves the gig — “It’s not what’s Joe Root… It’s who…,” she corrects a fellow hopeful — but is rejected for being the wrong body type. There she meets Saira Khanna (Sonakshi Sinha), also in the midst of heartbreak and beset by body image issues. The girls decide to team up – flying to London to shoot Saira's fashion label travelogue, which Rajshri, a social media expert on the side, agrees to direct.

Even as a ‘concept’ film — a term almost equally adored by studio execs as ‘quirky’ or ‘smalltown’ — Double XL has a lot going for it. It follows on the heels of films like Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Bala, which made frank discussions about unrealistic beauty standards commonplace, even entertaining. Furthermore, it stars Huma and Sonakshi, popular female stars who have spoken about facing rejection and body shaming in the past. In fact, an early teaser of Double XL had the actresses laughing about “losing all the weight” they’ve put on for it—a bit of witty self-awareness I expected to find more of in the actual film.

Sadly, that never happens. Instead, they’re saddled with didactic lakeside conversations that mechanically spell out the film’s message—lacking the kind of necessary comic zing that actually wins over audiences. “Ab waqt hai, batane ka (It’s time now to tell),” Rajshri announces at one point, which sounds like the mantra of Bollywood screenwriters these days. Satram, perhaps losing faith in his protagonists, shifts much of the drollery to the film’s two annoying male leads. Notebook’s Zaheer Iqbal hogs up screen time pulling Salman impressions from the '90s. And Mahat Raghevendra’s stoner DOP is all the anti-drug endorsement you’ll ever need. “I want to be like PC Sreeram,” he says, barely bothering to cap his lenses in harsh daylight.

As a belated Jimmy Sheirgill appearance lifts spirits in the second half (the one trick writer-producer Mudassar Aziz always seems to get right), you realize Double XL is a film with no style or personality of its own. It’s a bit one-size-fits-all.

Film: Double XL

Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Huma Qureshi, Zaheer Iqbal, Mahat Raghevendra, Alka Kaushal, Shubha Khote

Director: Satram Ramani

Rating: 2/5 stars