‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’: A Sincere, Filmy Tribute to Love
The film stars Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar.
Do we see a love story between a boy and a girl and call it a heterosexual love story? Then why should we see a romance between a man and a man and call it a homosexual love story? It doesn’t make sense, does it? Or as the film at one point beautifully puts it – “Shaadi ka mahurat hota hai pyaar ka nahi (There’s an auspicious time for marriage, not for love).”
Love doesn’t have a gender and you can’t plan it. At one point in one of the most vociferous acknowledgements of the legitimacy of love between two consenting adults, irrespective of gender, Aman (Jitendra Kumar) confronts his parents and describes his feelings in terms of oxytocin, dopamine and cortisol. The literal chemical reactions in the body are used to explain to his father, who claims to have a scientific temperament, that what he feels is natural and organic .
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The film makes many smart moves and most pay off. The addition of Ayushmann Khurana and Jitendra Kumar and the “normal” way their “love” is shown. It begins at a point where it almost seems like Aman and Kartik (Ayushmann) confide in us that they can’t stay without each other. There is just as much explanation provided for this attraction as there would have been if say Ayushmann and Bhumi Pednekar were paired opposite each other (The latter makes a small cameo appearance in the film) . But that how it is, na? They are in love. And they are scared of their parents’ reaction.
In fact, it’s deliciously entertaining how the DDLJ tropes are used to legitimise their actions.
From the extended hand dangling from the train’s door for the lover to hold, to the father saying “Ja je le apni zindagi,”. At one point, Aman even says crying to Kartik as their disapproving family surrounds them, “Maine kaha tha na ye nahi samjhenge!” and “Pyaar ke liye pitaayi sehna.”
It’s filmy, it’s over the top and yet it’s refreshing to see the dignity and sensitivity that their union is being granted without unnecessarily singling them out for being ‘different’.
The story operates in a world that is still awaiting the historic judgement of the Supreme Court of India that decriminalised homosexuality, but what it addresses is more important – the mindset that will not change with just a court order . It’s the casual, everyday battles that many people still fight each day in our country and the world just to be able to live the way they like with whomever they chose to be with.
Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta are the traditional Tripathi family parents who, when confronted by their son’s sexual orientation, react first with disbelief and then denial. Humour, some witty repartee and a lot of good-intentioned fun is used to make the proceedings entertaining. We root the much in love couple Kartik Singh and Aman Tripathi, buoyant as they are by the enormous charm and likability that Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar imbue in their characters.
The chemistry is cracking – from the loud melodrama to working the silent moments, they match each other beat by beat. The ensemble cast is richer with the inclusion of Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta , Maanvi Gagroo, Sunita Rajwar and Manurishi Chaddha. Family and their friendly feuds providing us with consistent laughs.
However not everything fits , for example the whole “kala gobhi” obsession of daddy Tripathi and the “anantim sanskaar (last rites)“ and forced shaadi are tracks that dilute the fun and the narrative temporarily is thrown off track. From self-love to loving the one the heart desires, Shubh Mangal Zaada Saavdhan makes a case for all kinds of love. And somewhere it is conscious of the fact that the audience it is trying to target might squirm at the lip lock of its leading men.
And so, it takes time to warm up and builds a case using science, common sense, Supreme Court judgement and even ancient texts to side with its leading men and get everyone to root for them. Pandit ji is told “Shaadi aatmaaon ka milan hai aur aatmaaon ka koi gender thodi hota hai.” Things falter when from a love story it takes on the responsibility of a public service announcement making a pitch to live and let live. But it’s a brave ,brave attempt and mostly very, very watchable and enjoyable. 4 quints out of 5!
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