Rita Mae Brown once said, “The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody”. But even when love in its boundless form and aspiration is achieved, the endearment comes with terms and conditions. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan attempts earnestly to unfold such escape clauses imposed on two people in love – whose only fault lies in their gender.
Directed by- Hitesh Kewalya
Produced by- Aanand L. Rai, Bhushan Kumar, Himanshu Sharma, Krishan Kumar
Written by- Hitesh Kewalya
Starring- Ayushmann Khurrana, Jitendra Kumar, Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta
Kartik played by Ayushmann Khurrana, and Aman played by Jitendra Kumar are in love, and they are a live-in couple in Delhi. But it was time to address the elephant in the room, and situationally, the couple had to visit Aman’s home back in Allahabad. There, unexpectedly Aman’s father played by Gajraj Rao catches them kissing in a compartment of a train and what happens next is estimated as likely to happen predictably but how it is different is its sensitive treatment – which calls for a celebration!
First and foremost, let’s raise a toast for the much-needed conscience arousal of Hindi cinema. It might sound like a palpable idea – but a mainstream hero is playing a homosexual character with conviction without actually mocking or nullifying the notion. Even five years back, this was a reverie.
There is indeed a lot more dignity and sensitivity in the way homosexuality is being treated in the film as compared to the earlier versions in Hindi cinema. Though the narrative is based on a social issue in the comedy genre, it could have gone wrong in many ways. But the writer-director Hitesh Kewalya has portrayed it cautiously.
Though, this was not the first time when a commercially successful mainstream actor attempted a subject so taboo and unconventional. At the beginning of 2019, a film called “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” was released starring Sonam Kapoor in the lead and which picked a similar genre. The film gained a lot of popularity over the commercial actor being in the lead, but what it lacks are the substance and the earnestness of the subject. What it tried to communicate is primarily a love story, and then it is a love story of two lovers of the same gender. But the film turned out to be inversely proportional – contrary to what it tried to be represented as.
Imagine, two lovers, one love story, and there is no real romance or physical chemistry, this is every ingredient that makes the plot hollow and pretentious. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhaan breaks even that ostentatious-ness of a film and shows some real romance quite ardently.
The very first scene, Ayushmann, is seeing sitting behind his boyfriend’s motorcycle and holding him tightly with a redden-in-love face. It makes you believe in love again. But as an audience, I was frightened at the same time that the spark in his eyes will fade away soon, and the romance at that moment will die down. But that was not the case.
In one of the scenes, Kartik asks Aman for a kiss since it’s been too long and the two breaks down in a real passionate kiss.
Not only physical intimacy, but the body language of the actors was a treat to watch. Where none of them was too effeminate as opposed to the contrary believe of the perception of gay men, neither they were too masculine; hyper or traditional. But they were both regular guys without any extremities in their personalities.
But there was a quirk in Ayushmann’s character. He wears a Nath (nose ring), uses a lingo which can be considered cool but at the same time, kind and madly in love with his partner.
Though, the story was predictable in so many different levels such as parents not understanding what homosexuality is. And hence, they make conscious choices to get rid of the disease.
In the beginning, when Aman’s father first witness the two engaging in love, he takes a water pipe to bathe his son with rage in his eyes. That is symbolic of cleaning his son from the illness that his son got lapped in. Several other instances such as Kriyakaram and Naamkaran puja in the family for his new life, emotional blackmail so on and so forth, add the much-needed spice to an entertaining watch.
Though, the film does not end with a drastic change of heart. Instead, the father says I don’t understand what you are. But my understanding should not limit my child. Profound!
The film was focused on the gay couple, but there was a parallel love story which was a constant delight – the love of Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao. The chemistry came back together after the very successful Badhaai Ho, and it has the same magic as ever.
With the elements of comedy, drama and social message, the film was intended to be informative in terms of associating with scientific terms such as dopamine, serotonin and section 377 instead of just being preachy.
But somehow, it sabotages the battle of the lives of so many who are categorized just because they do not fit into the boxes society has made.
It was more of putting a brand like Ayushmann Khurrana in a film undermining a social issue but at the same time commercializing over the bone of contention with the society.
Watch out the trailer here!