ADVERTISEMENT

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan: No Saavdhani Needed We Are Out!

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan: Thank you for taking homosexuality to a mainstream audience.

Published
Bollywood
6 min read
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan: No Saavdhani Needed We Are Out!
i

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is the Hindi film industry’s coming out party. This film sets a clean slate for love, unprejudiced and pure.

When I entered an early morning first show of Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan at a theatre in Sion, Mumbai, little did I expect the hall to be half packed. More so, since I had read a self-confessed not so homophobic comment to my Facebook post looking for company to watch this film that said - “who wants to wake up early morning and wank to fags”. Well, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan has very little to wank to, and nothing to wonder about. This film is as ‘ordinary’ as any Ayushmann Khurrana brand of social film could be. And its simplicity lies in how explicit the content is. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan stars two young men who end up recreating Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Jab We Met when one partner pulls the other inside a train. They don’t have a bent wrist and neither do they give flying kisses nor become best friends to all the women. In fact, if this is the definition of being gay, I know far too many heterosexual people who do all of the above.

Like any grass-rooted, self-respecting desi film with ambitions of being a blockbuster, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan sets out in a train. The family is out for a wedding, but things take a different turn when the bride’s dad (Gajraj Rao) ends up watching his son (Jitendra Kumar) lip-locking with another man (Ayushmann Khurrana). Papa is in shock, so much so that he pukes and gets furious. However, he holds on to his gussa, because – log kya kahenge?

A still from<i> Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan</i>.
A still from Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube Screenshot)

The train is the “samaaj” that is witness to it all, it stops at stations to invite more people in, while some alight, others board it, but most importantly the train journey is memorable when we interact and make an attempt to enjoy the journey despite the fact that we don’t like everyone in the train, and neither do we dislike everyone on it. A person of another gender, another expression of love is also such. You don’t have to necessarily understand their love, you just have no right to tell them how they should feel about themselves and the people they love. It is not as much about acceptance, as it is about the decency to let people mind their own business without poking your precious nose in it.

In the Indian context queer families are of different forms. Sometimes, it is your interaction with your birth family that you call your queer family. Some have a wider queer family with several families who have accepted their child for who they are. Sometimes, as a queer person who has been thrown out of your family of birth, your circle of friends happens to be your family of choice. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan touches on your family of birth, and it’s not just a small nuclear family – it’s an entire galaxy of relations. While, Ayushmann’s family is conspicuous in its non-existence, Jitendra’s family is quite sada-bahaar and filled to the brim.

A still from<i> Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan</i>.
A still from Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube Screenshot)

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan takes you through a range of emotions, both highs and lows, but never so high and never so low that you would assume that the proceedings are unrealistic. The characters in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan are woven together with the thread of realism by the director-writer Hitesh Kewalya. While thoda cinematic license is jaayaz considering that the film wants to cater to the mainstream, it still doesn’t shroud the issue with all the glitz, glory and glamour of a commercial Bollywood entity. Of course, in the film, like any other, there are heroes beyond the lead ones – Neena Gupta as the mother is captivating. I love the scene where Neena, a ghunghat dhaari naari stands in her blouse and petticoat, while her husband tries to hang himself with her pink saree after getting to know that the world knows that his son is gay. Apart from Neena Gupta, Maanvi Gagroo as Goggle Tripathi is amazing. She exists in the ensemble as Jitendra’s sister and gives him his own space to shine without being the central character. Her character rides a horse and takes charge of her life, even as her marriage falls apart and the world cries hoarse. Well, there are several subtexts of empowerment in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan.

ADVERTISEMENT

The film only falls short of the fact that none of the characters get the complete justice that they deserve. Each character in the film could have been further etched well and we could have seen the film in many perspectives. Kewalya kewal gives us a one dimensional story that shows us the composition of the family but doesn’t delve deeper. Also, closer to the climax Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan has the police coming in to arrest the homosexual couple, who are set to marry in pre-decriminalisation India. The facts are a little incorrect here because even when homosexuality was not decriminalised, though queer marriages didn’t have legal sanction, it was not a crime. It was then criminal to have non-peno-vaginal sex, marriage was simply not recognised. Homosexuality has never been illegal in India, non-procreatory sex has been. Khair, chotti galti for cinematic licence, maaf.

A still from<i> Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan</i>.
A still from Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube Screenshot)

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is a U/A certified film, and one should go with your children to watch it. Since I don’t get to write this often - thank you CBFC for keeping the kissing scenes and allowing the world to see that homosexuality is just another shade of love, that’s less seen, less known, and a minority – but it exists and is as natural as nature itself. The film opens to mainstream audience, is unabashed in its outlook and speaks the language of the public while not mocking a narrative that they may not exactly understand. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is a conversation starter. This film is something that would instigate families to delve deep within themselves. This film offers an iota of hope to couples who do not conform to notions of what is conventionally acceptable.

But Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is no classic. It is not a Call Me by Your Name set in Allahabad, It’s not a Brokeback Mountain with a desi twist, and no, Queer As Folk has not arrived with this. . It is just Ayushmann Khurrana served uninhibited. And the actor does it justice. There is not a single trace of Ayushmann you would see in the film. He’s an actor who leaves no trace of himself in the character he plays. It is a big thing when a mainstream actor decides to don the role of someone that the world thinks is controversial. Ayushmann is not the first one though – Rahul Bose, Arjun Mathur, Saqib Salim, Randeep Hooda have all had lip-locks. Things are changing, actors and directors are challenging the status quo.

I was in a supposedly ”straight” theatre watching this supposedly gay film, but I sat with my gay partner, kissed him when the lights went dim, next to me was another couple – a man and woman, they kissed too. No one hooted, no one cared. We came back home to our Neena Gupta, (my mom, Padma) she asked, “kapde washing machine mein dale kya”, as me and my partner drowned into our laptops working. How boring, our gay lives seem so straight. Someday, we may have no gay life after all. We are the same. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan drives that point. Thanks Hitesh. Love you.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

ADVERTISEMENT
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Quint Insider
25
100
200

or more

PREMIUM

3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Insider Benefits
ADVERTISEMENT
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!
ADVERTISEMENT
×
×