What would you do if you were in possession of a truck load of condoms in a country that considers buying it openly a matter of shame?
Story: Helmet is meant to be a love story, but there’s also an embedded social message that just gets tedious after a point.
Review: Sex is a tricky subject in India. We like it, no doubt. We are, after all, fast moving to become the most populous nation in the world. We just don’t like talking about it. Hell, we are so touchy about it that illustrated versions of the Kamasutra are being burnt for, well, matters that are for another discussion. But you get the gist, right. As long as matters of the bedroom stay there, all is well.
Since the OTT boom, many Indian filmmakers have been trying to break free of these shackles of supposed morality and present a more realistic picture of sexuality in India. Zee5’s Helmet isn’t as brave, but treads on the periphery, picking a subject that has been trending, especially since the pandemic – the surge in condom sales (sexual health products were a part of essentials on ecommerce sites) – with a narrative that’s fun in parts.
The social message in director Satram Ramani’s film hinges on our reluctance to openly buy contraceptives. We just cannot handle the looks others give us for choosing to not procreate at will or practising safe sex. This is, of course, bundled with the age-old formulaic poor boy-loves-rich-girl-whose-folks-disapprove love story. So, you have Lucky (Aparshakti), the poor orphan, who is also a singer with a local band that performs at weddings, etc. His lady love, Rupali (Pranutan), hails from a wealthy family, but is ready to give up all that and elope with Lucky, although she prefers that he ask for her hand in marriage. But no father would want to wed his daughter to a high school educated singer who is barely scraping together a living.
Determined to prove his worth, at least financially, Lucky hatches a plan with his buddies, Sultan (Abhishek Banerjee) and Minus (Ashish Verma) to steal high-end goods and make a quick buck. Their heist, though, leaves them with a truckload of condoms, worth several lakhs. The only problem is, how do you sell a product that people would rather die than be seen with?
Verdict: The attempt to highlight the shame associated with buying contraceptives is laudable, but it’s not enough to stop the stealth operation at the local medical store where it will still be wrapped in a brown cover and then maybe another black plastic bag, after the order is placed when no one else is around. It also doesn’t help that the film takes on a preachy tone, with the writing lacking imagination.