Movie Name: Shubh Mangal Savdhaan
Cast: Ayushmann Khurana and Bhumi Pednekar
Director: R S Prasanna
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Running Time: 1 hour 59 minutes
Bollywood Garam Rating: 3.5/5
Writer-Director R.S. Prasanna and Anand L. Rai who is the famed awardee of the Stardust Award for Best Director and has had successful directorial ventures like Tanu Weds Manu: Returns and Raanjhanaa have dealt with taboo issues like erectile dysfunction owing to performance anxiety in their latest movie, Shubh Mangal Savdhaan in a way that would even attract conservative family audiences to the movie theatres. The characters in the film, both the leads and the supporting ones are not only original and relatable in their depiction of the adult issue but the dialogue delivery and zany humour is highly convincing and would appeal masses.
This is Prasanna’s Bollywood debut and a remake of the Tamil version of his film, Kalyana Samayal Saadham that brings together believable romance in Mudit (Ayushmann Khurana) and Sugandha (Bhumi Pednekar) in Mudit’s hesitation to approach Sugandha though they like each other, the situations in how they meet, Mudit’s online proposal on a matrimony site for Sugandha and the anxiety, excitement and nervousness in their romantic relationship that spills into their physical intimacies with each other. But the endearing and wisecrack humour in the dialogues and reactions of Mudit when he is approached by his father-in-law as an unknown caller and well-wisher who knows about Mudit’s “gents problem” and how he and Sugandha are constantly victimized by the society and their parents in a teasing sort of a way on their physical and sexual future with each other, gently tugs at the patriarchal notions and orthodox views of the society around a married (or in this case, a to-be-married) couple.
The film at times also puts together bizarre situations at play for instance when Mudit is attacked by a bear when he gathers the courage to profess his liking for Sugandha for the first time or when the entire family of both Mudit and Sugandha, their friends and relatives wait for the two to find out if they are capable of intercourse. These quirks and unpredictability of the family’s reactions to Mudit’s lack of confidence not only build a certain interesting dramatic tonality to the movie but also give the women in the movie a sense of having control, speaking their mind out and even stabilizing rocky situations. While Sugandha’s mother unabashedly talks about sex to her daughter, her friend brings her porn movie CDs and she herself does not let Mudit decide for the both of them whether to get married or not, given his ‘dysfunction’ that is also manifested in his grumpy and cranky disposition as well as his reaction to difficult situations for instance when he is gullible to his friend’s suggestions of going with his problem to a self-proclaimed problem-solver, the bangali baba.
The film also brashly rubbishes the idea of masculinity that the patriarchal society holds so dearly – that being a man means he is devoid of pain, is flawless and is born to control women. The film reaches its finality with a misunderstanding that turns into a hilarious comedy with tongue-in-cheek dialogues only to come to a conclusion where orthodox and unreasonable rituals are challenged, denounced and argued against with utmost sincerity and power as Mudit finally regains his confidence and is able to profess his love for Sugandha not only to her but in front of family, friends and relatives just days before their wedding.
The charming and affable chemistry between the lead pair, Ayushmann and Bhumi is also a difficult one to miss as they convince the audience to their struggle in being romantic partners, in declaring their love for one another and even in premarital sex. The two were last seen together in Dum Laga Ke Haisha and their pair is yet again able to bring the romance on screen. Another reason to watch the film is how Seema Pahwa who plays Bhumi’s mother makes attempts towards sex education for her daughter albeit much late, with the bird and bee and Alibaba, cave and forty thieves concept that is refreshingly hilarious. What is also refreshing despite being banal is the realistic portrayal of life in Delhi, the culture of the place, the harmless flirting in long ATM queues while taking a dig at demonetization and the euphemisms that the young boys (Ayushmann’s friends and neighbours) resort to when referring to anything sexual that makes the story come across as even more authentic.
Through the little quirks, quarrels, arguments, hilarious speeches and zany comedy, the movie also digs deep into how stress and overbearing societal pressure can be so overwhelming as to cause physical issues and genital health problems that are further ridiculed. This simple, sweet story about an open and honest relationship that tries to grow amid physical and social burdens is one the Indian audiences was waiting to see on the 70 mm screen for a very long time.
Photo Credits: Youtube