The problem with Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. is simply this: it never really takes flight. It is well conceived and occasionally well written. There's much warmth and sexiness on display. And it's far more interesting than the other honeymoon movie that came out around the same time - Just Married. But somehow, it just doesn't add up.
The movie tells the story of a honeymoon trip taken on a shockingly pink bus by a bunch of disparate couples. As is the case with stories like this, each couple has something brewing under the surface, which comes through somewhere or the other. Some people act as catalysts for some others to reach a turning point. In the end, some go back happy, some don't. A movie of this nature depends largely on the chemistry between the characters. They don't all have to be lovey-dovey, but there has to be something there that makes the viewer invest in each relationship and care for how it turns out. This is essentially the fatal flaw in Honeymoon Travels.
In some cases, the stories aren't interesting. In some others, the acting is a let-down. Sometimes it's both. The only couples who emerge unscathed from this movie are Boman Irani and Shabana Azmi, who play an elderly couple for whom this is the second marriage, and Kay Kay and Raima Sen, a Bengali couple trying to rekindle the spark in their marriage. Of the four, Kay Kay and Shabana give solid, unsurprising performances.
The other two are phenomenal. Boman plays Oscar, an elderly man on his honeymoon with Nahid (Shabana). It is the second marriage for both, and their families react predictably to their pronouncement. Theirs is the warmest relationship of the lot, and Boman in particular invests Oscar with such an interesting combination of crankiness, humor, despair and love that he steals every scene he is in.
The real standout, for me, is Raima Sen who is simply luminous in the role of a Bengali housewife with a streak of individuality that scares her husband at times. There is a moment on a beach in Goa just after an ill-advised parasailing episode, when she just walks into the waves, free of all inhibitions. It is a well written scene, carefully set up in the preceding minutes, but it’s not a surprising one. However, there’s something about how she does it that makes it work far better than we think it might. At times docile, at other times impish, and at yet other times breathtakingly sexy, this is a performance that deserves an award she will almost certainly not get.
The movie has a few revelations in store along the way. Most of them are revealed through a voice-over by a Radio Mirchi jockey and accompanied by snatches from appropriate film songs. These revelations, alas, don’t always work as well as the device does. A couple of them are quite surprising and garner the odd laugh. The rest are considerably more pedestrian. There is also a big non-radio revelation that works so badly it almost completely derails the movie. Thankfully, the characters involved are developed so shabbily that we don’t really care at that point.
The music is mostly okay. The dancing, however, is noteworthy. There’s Pyaar Ki Yeh Kahaani a lovely tango with Abhay Deol and Minisha Lamba, and Kay Kay’s wild gyrations in Sajna Ri. Outside of that, nothing to really write home about.
On the whole, this is a lot less interesting than it could’ve been. I’s not an utter waste of two hours of your life, but if Seinfeld is playing on TV at the same time, you know what to do.