Rating: *** ½

In A. C. Tirulokchandar’s Main Bhi Ladki Hoon released 60 years ago, Meena Kumar(all smeared in dark colouring) played a dark-complexioned girl Rajni who finds herself being humiliated and ridiculed every step of her way.

At one point in the melodramatic rendition of colour prejudice, the Tragedy Queen stands before a statue of Lord Krishna and sings(in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice) Krishna oh kaley Krishna/tuney yeh kya kiya kaisa badla liya/Rang deke mujhe apna..

Ileana D’Cruz , no Meena Kumari,stands before a picture of Lord Krishna in director Balwinder Singh Janjua’s surprisingly sassy and funny romcom, wondering(quietly, without a song) what the hell happened .

D’Cruz as the spirited dusky Lovely is miscast. It would have been better to cast an actual dark-complexioned actress in the role rather than smear the actress with a weird tan.

That apart, the rest of the cast is impeccable and agile in its comic timing. In a story that is both original and timely(women are still measured in the dowry market according to their skin pigmentation) Balwinder Singh Janjua brings us some of the most imposing actors we have as bunch of befuddled backbenchers .

Randeep Hooda(what happened to him?! ) is a brilliant blend of the bashful and the brash as Lovely’s prospective bridegroom who messes up his marriage prospects on account of his male ego and a meddlesome Mummy(Geeta Aggarwal, who has become the new Nirupa Roy, though far funnier).

Hooda sportingly slips into the meek mode even when in the cop’s uniform. He has for company the remarkable Geetika Vidya as a newly married constable. They are both assigned to search for a truck filled with a dowry items for Lovely’s impending marriage.Luckily for us there is more of Hooda with Geetika than Ileana.

As the clock ticks away, so do the funny moments, so clustered into the characters’ dishevelled lives , I got the feeling that the plot will trip over its funny face. Luckily, it all holds together on a glee-string. Janjua is exceptionally adept at harnessing the various plot points and the frazzled characters into a narrative that is fun and coherent even at its most absurd and outrageous moments of emotional wreck-oning.

Not that the storytelling is constantly coherent. Somehow the imperfections in the plot(the second-half tends to get overly messy and crowded) only add to the films boorish charms. Amidst all the augmented brouhaha there is a nicely positioned message on why human beings,especially prospective brides, must not be judged by their skin colour.To get there, we have to take this rollicking joyous largely fun-filled ride .

A special word for Pavan Malhotra who plays Lovely’s harried father: does he ever disappoint?