Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic is all of the following: an unapologetic children's movie, Sound of Music meets Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke meets supernatural, jam-packed with filmi philosophy and filmi religion (cheesy, but in the right mood, oddly touching), a wonderful Rani-run show, a CGI-infested and pastel coloured fluffball.
The plot goes something like, grumpy-looking Saif Ali Khan plays all-work-no-play millionaire Ranbir who doesn't know love (or any other human emotions, but inside is just dying for a hug) and happens to run over a couple with four children. In the weirdest filmi court decision to date, the judge orders Ranbir to look after the kids - he must not abuse them, if they're unhappy in any way, he goes to jail. The kids have revenge on the brain and so even though Ranbir tries to adjust and make the kids happy in his mansion of a house, everybody ends up miserable. Cue Rishi Kapoor the God (only in Kunal Kohli films!) who decides to send his favourite angel Geeta (Rani Mukherjee) to nanny the kids and spread some smiles around the house.
The kids are wonderful, and surprisingly good actors. There is room for improvement, of course, but I hope we hear about them again - especially the oldest kid, playing Vishasht, was convincing. I was dreading the whole kids' movie aspect of the film but ended up enjoying it regardless - the kids and their pranks, Geeta and her pranks, I was worried I would eventually lose sympathy for either or both, but I luckily never did.
This doesn't mean the plot doesn't have a few misteps - it does, and as usual, Americans actors bring down the "good acting index" of the film considerably. There's a lot of cheese to go around, some cutesy animated sequences and one nationalist notion in the song Beetey Kal Se but it's so non-militarist I can well agree to it (I also love the bit in the song where one of the girls asks, "But didi, are we all [ie. Indians] going forward or just some of us?" and Geeta replies, "Good question" and sings a verse about how progress isn't really progress if everybody isn't included - it's an unrealistic wish, perhaps, but it's important all the same).
Saif and Rani have a great chemistry, even before the relationship between their characters gets romantic. They just gel together so amazingly well, and yes, I say this as fully biased fan of both (and as somebody who loves Hum Tum). Rani's Geeta is definitely a show-stealing character, and she's the only actress who I would buy in such a role - Saif's Ranbir is less attention-grabbing, but he does a good job portraying the loveless businessman who is not all dead inside. There could've been better development for their eventual romantic connection, but the film is so obviously made with children in mind, I can't really blame it.
TPTM is a delightful movie, but not something I will rewatch endlessly; the caveat of being an adult watching a kids' film is ever-present. Regardless, for Rani's performance it's easily recommendable and as a fluffy, colourful film it's not the worst thing you could tune in on a rainy day. There's something about Geeta; she's a talkative, lively sort of female character you see every now and then in Hindi films and she's clearly manipulating the situation left and right, but in a way that doesn't bother me. Rani really sells the character, and even though I rolled my eyes at the pre-release promotional fuss about "the first angel in Hindi cinema!", I was charmed while watching.