Shaad Ali's Mister Mummy - starring Riteish Deshmukh and Genelia D’Souza - revolves around Amol Kote, a cisgender man whose life gets turned upside down when he discovers that he’s pregnant. It would’ve been an interesting premise if the writers would’ve been able to fathom that there are tonnes of transgender men who are regularly getting pregnant and giving birth. But for a film whose biggest comedic plot point relies on finding new ways to ridicule a man with a baby bump and lactating breasts, nuances are perhaps too much to expect.
Here are my honest thoughts while watching Mister Mummy.
1. The film begins with Amol Kote, a disgruntled PT teacher based in England, who's terrorizing an entire class of high school children. I had hardly any expectations going into this film, but what I did not expect was a young white boy protesting Amol’s mistreatment by responding, “White lives matter too, you know.” Throughout the course of the first half, the said white boy appears multiple times, mostly quoting Gandhi. But what takes the cake is him screaming “Inquilab Zindabad” before the entire class defames Amol. I simply have no words.
2. The filmmaker may have intended to paint Amol’s hatred for children in a funny, innocuous light but within the first twenty minutes, it escalates to straight-up harassment. After forcing the students to run around the field multiple times, he grabs one of their bottles, empties it in front of the child while he begs for water and proceeds to demand that he fill the bottle with his tears.
This brings me to the only time Mister Mummy makes me feel seen: A revolving shot of the tortured boy crying into his water bottle. Honestly, same.
3. It's actually a treat watching Genelia D’Souza (as Amol's wife, Gugglu) on the silver screen again, until her dialogue delivery kicks in. Her acting seems so forced and half-baked that it often looks like she is stunned by her own dialogues.
4. The film drastically shifts gears as an awkward family setting is cut to Gugglu trying to seduce Amol. By now, it’s well established that he loathes children and she loves them. It is at this juncture that we find out the extent to which he despises the thought of having kids. Unable to find a contraceptive, he tries to flee as his wife is trying to initiate intimacy with a blindfold on. Their seemingly funny conflict gets so unbearable to watch that I start craving for a blindfold just so I can get through the film without having to see any more atrocities in the name of comedy.
Their conflict soon turns to passionate face-grabbing or as Bollywood calls it: making love.
5. This leads to one of the most tired tropes in cinema: homophobic stereotypes. Imagine every single offensive caricature of queerness and condense it to one person. That’s how we are introduced to Dr Satsangi, Gugglu and Amol’s queercoded family doctor, who is also a gynecologist.
6. Dr Satsangi reveals to Gugglu that she is pregnant. She’s overjoyed but fears telling Amol, who finds out in no time and triggers a heated argument between the two. Amidst their conflict, he begins to feel symptoms of pregnancy. After their doctor warns him about being pregnant, he turns to Google; and there we have it: a compilation of pregnant transgender men and their partners. This visibility falls flat on its face as it cuts to the film's most famous song, Papaji Pet Se. Adding to this transphobic monstrosity is Amol constantly misgendering himself "by accident". I have but one question: Why?
7. What makes Dr Satsangi an even grosser misrepresentation of queer men is introducing his twin: a more competent, heterosexual version of him. He reveals that Amol is not actually pregnant. Dr Satsangi lied to him about the ultrasound because of his hunger for fame and acclaim as a top-ranking gynecologist. He discloses that Amol is going through Couvade syndrome or sympathetic pregnancy, an actual condition where cis men experience similar symptoms as their pregnant partners.
If you're wondering why this shrewd and incompetent doctor is the only visibly queer character in the film, it's because Bollywood loves to churn out mediocre slapstick comedies where queerness is repackaged as immoral and ridiculous.
Am I surprised? No. Exhausted? 100% yes.