Director: Habib Faisal
Writer: Habib Faisal
Cast: Rishi Kapoor as Santosh Duggal
Neetu Singh as Kusum Duggal
Aditi Vasudev as Payal Duggal, also the narrator of the movie
Archit Krishna as Sandeep ‘Sandy’/‘Deepu’ Duggal
Rajesh Vivek as Anchor
Akhilendra Mishra as Farooqui
Supriya Shukla as Urmi (Fuppu)
Natasha Rastogi as Salma Farooqui
Viccky Baidyanath as Police Man
The Duggals are a middle-class Punjabi family living in a one-bedroom apartment in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi. The middle-aged patriarch, Santosh Duggal (Rishi Kapoor), is a modest high-school mathematics teacher; his wife Kusum (Neetu Singh) is a stay-at-home housewife who quit her job at Santosh’s insistence. They have two teenage children: a tomboyish college-going daughter, Payal (Aditi Vasudev), who narrates the film, and a high-schooler son, Sandeep (Archit Krishna), a.k.a. Deepu or Sandy. They lead a hand-to-mouth existence, penny-pinching at every opportunity. Santosh commutes using a dilapidated old scooter, nicknamed ‘Duggal Express’, from his home to the school and to a coaching centre, where he gains a supplementary income. Despite his best efforts to give his children a quality education, he always falls short of their expectations, who wish for a comfortable life despite their situation.
One evening Santosh receives a phone call from his sister Urmi (Supriya Shukla), who informs him that her youngest nanad (sister-in-law) is getting married at their home in Meerut that weekend. This throws the children’s plans of buying gadgets out the window, as their meagre budget is now further strained with the burden of travelling to Meerut and buying gifts for the groom’s family. The following night, Urmi turns up at the Duggals’, and entreats the family to arrive at the wedding by car at any cost; if they show up on the scooter, she will have to face taunts from her family. Santosh immediately says that this is impossible, since he does not have the finances to arrange for borrowing a car, let alone buying one. However, Kusum promises a distraught Urmi that they will go to the wedding in a car, no matter what the expense.
After a co-teacher at school proposes renting a car to Meerut, but at too high a price, Santosh turns to his jovial neighbour Farooqui (Akhilendra Mishra), who offers the Duggals his old Maruti Esteem. Payal drives the family to Meerut without any big hassle. The wedding is a success, and Urmi’s family is pleased to see the Duggals. However, upon returning home, Payal reverses the car into a wall, damaging its rear bumper and tail-light. Farooqui is unperturbed by the damage expenses, but his wife Salma (Natasha Rastogi) loses her temper and challenges the Duggals to buy a car. Despite himself, Santosh takes up the challenge, and vows to buy a new car within fifteen days.
Farooqui sympathises with Santosh and advises him to buy only a new car and not a second-hand car. Santosh visits a car dealership and is offered a Maruti Alto with an attractive offer, but he has to buy the car within five days to avail of the offer. Payal is displeased with the choice of car, as she wanted something more modern like her boyfriend’s i10. She refuses to accompany her family for the Alto’s test drive. Eventually she applies for a job at a call centre. Meanwhile, Deepu, who had been betting money on cricket matches, is shell-shocked when the betting ring is exposed and arrested; he destroys his phone, to his girlfriend’s consternation. That night, an exuberant Payal tells Santosh about her new job’s offer letter, but he is unhappy with his daughter sacrificing her education for some extra money. In a fit of rage, Payal tears up her offer letter, but then the family comes to know of the betting ring through a TV news report. Payal and Kusum are enraged, but Santosh is calm. He takes Deepu to distribute the betting money among street children.
Having been refused a loan by both a school-teacher and the coaching centre’s owner, Santosh is at his wits’ end to pay the car’s down payment. In desperation, he buys a thousand packets of 555 Brand detergent, in the hope that he gets to win a car through a lucky coupon found in one of the packets. The family spends considerable time ripping open cartons, cutting through packets and fishing out coupons, but the grand prize eludes them. Then Santosh chances upon an answer-paper of one of his students’, wherein the student requests him to award him at least passing marks; in return, for each mark awarded, Santosh will get one thousand rupees. Santosh and Kusum had seen the paper earlier but had brushed it aside; now Kusum wonders whether they are doing the right thing, but Santosh reassures her that, in a fast-paced, burgeoning Delhi where his students get high starting salaries, an aging teacher deserves at least a matchbox-sized car. Santosh and Payal proceed to a McDonald’s restaurant, where the student’s father has arranged to meet them along with him, his grandfather and his uncle. Meanwhile, Deepu is convinced, through another sting operation report on TV, that his father has fallen for a scam, and sets out alone for the restaurant.
The men sit across Santosh and Payal. The grandfather asks him to show how many marks were awarded. Santosh is astounded to discover that the boy is his student Aryan. Just as Santosh is about to show the answer-sheet, Zafar Iqbal, an ex-student of his, arrives on the scene with his wife and small daughter, and thanks him for making him a successful person in life and a principled ‘good boy’. Zafar tells Santosh that he and several other ex-students live in New York and recount memories of Duggal Sir. After he leaves, Santosh, clearly moved, refuses to take the money, telling Aryan that they will both have failed if he were to undeservedly pass him: Aryan for thinking that money can buy anything, and Santosh for being remembered for dishonesty. He is about to leave, when a furious Payal, on learning that Aryan had spray-painted lewd messages on Santosh’s scooter, starts an uproarious fight between the Duggals (including Deepu, who has joined the scene) and Aryan’s relatives. Both parties, splattered with sauce, flee the restaurant, with Aryan’s SUV in hot pursuit of the ‘Duggal Express’ as the latter speeds through the roads of Delhi.
The Duggals have only just reached home when their pursuers arrive at their street, asking for their address and creating a ruckus. Farooqui informs a nervous Santosh about their presence. The Duggals come down and start apologising to them; Deepu had even been convinced that they were running a sting operation. However, their fears are unfounded: the grandfather introduces himself as Popley, the proprietor of Popley Sweets, and offers the Duggals twelve months’ advance tuition fees to supplement their glaringly inadequate teaching income, which they reluctantly accept. He requests Santosh to teach Aryan to be a morally good boy, unlike his two wastrel sons. Payal and Deepu are now more proud than ever that their father is a teacher. The film ends with the Duggals enjoying their new Maruti Alto; as Payal teaches Santosh to drive it, they lament that they are now stuck in traffic jams, whereas they would have simply squeezed through them with their scooter. Of course, it is a small price for them to pay.