Lyricists Siddharth Singh and Garima Wahal's directorial debut aims to pack in as much story as possible into Dukaan. Therein, lies the first hurdle for this surrogacy saga about a woman who doesn't give up the baby after he is born. Starring Monika Pawar as the independent and free-spirited Jasmine Patel, Dukaan bats for the rights of surrogates in India but does so in an awkward and clumsy manner.

The Hindi film tracks the life of Chameli who renames herself Jasmine (Pawar) just to be unique. A tragic incident in her household causes her to dislike kids. However, she bags herself a husband Sumer (Sikandar Kher) and a stepdaughter a few years younger than herself. With every obstacle life throws at her, Jasmine regroups and overcomes in her own one-of-a-kind way. Looking for a source of income, she finds Dr Navya Chandel (Geetika Tyagi) and other surrogates who become like her second family. But the 'baby machine' makes one stumble when she wants to keep the child belonging to Diya (Monali Thakur) and Armaan (Soham Majumdar). What will happen when both claim to be his family?

The fictional film feels very much like a biopic of a person in the way it unfolds the life of Jasmine. But no matter what decade the film finds itself in, the 1990s to 2010s, you'd never know what year it is because the characters never age themselves. Dukaan rushes through scenes and stitches them together through musical interludes (which are quite nice). But it makes you lose all sense of time and place. The first and second halves are like long montages the way that the narrative moves a full speed, not allowing viewers time to catch up or match up facts. Furthermore, the actual point of contention between Jasmine and the Mishras is unnecessarily drawn out and melodramatic.

Dukaan: Performances

Pawar has the right spark for a character like Jasmine's, but her performance overdoes it with the clichés and stereotypes of small-town Gujarat. The actress dominates in most of the scenes with her blithe outlook in life. The rest of the cast from Himani Shivpuri (as Jasmine's mom) to Sikandar Kher aren't in the film longer for a bigger impact. Thakur and Majumdar lay it on a bit thicker than usual with their loud emotions. Other small characters like surrogates with obvious prosthetic bellies are like a Greek chorus but slightly more annoying.

Dukaan: Critique

From its unwieldy introduction to the syrupy closing scenes, Dukaan isn't quite sure about how to handle its initial message about found families and parenthood. There's another interesting story in the feature about a self-reliant woman who discovered motherhood, but it gets pushed aside for more dramatics. The filmmakers may have started out wanting to make a movie about the treatment of surrogacy in India, but they end up sermonizing more and offer no better solutions either.