I Took My Parents to Watch ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’
It was important that my parents watch this film because cinema was the easiest way to understand homosexuality.
In a turn of events, I took my parents to watch Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan.
My parents are among those X-generation Indians who turn a blind eye towards anything that does not affect them or they may not understand or defies their ‘normal’.
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan deals with a topic, i.e homosexuality, that has been misinterpreted and/or lacks representation in Bollywood. The film through humour and pretty many monologues opens the conversation of same-sex relationships and more importantly their social acceptance in a country like India.
I was unsure of how my parents would perceive it. Would they deem it blasphemous? It was rather funny to me, they had no idea what they were going to be treated to (they had not seen the trailer).
I was excited to see what their expressions would be when they saw Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar kissing on-screen. Rather, I was more excited about the conversation that might follow after the film.
Even in the punchiest of jokes cracked, I found my father trying hard to keep his laughter inside, sitting as straight as he could, arms across his chest and putting on his most serious face. My mother enjoyed it very well. I was watching in glee all things cute about this on-screen couple.
The ride back home was a silent one. *crickets chirping in distance*
“Chalo, ab inpe bhi film ban gayi (So, a film has been made on them as well)”, my mother said, breaking the silence.
I chose not to initiate the conversation, and I’m glad I didn’t. The next day I overheard them speak about it in the kitchen. Yes, I was eavesdropping.
It was important to me that my parents watch this film probably because it was the easiest way they could understand homosexuality, through cinema. Cinema has, now and again, influenced popular opinion, creating and paving way for more.
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan has its shortcomings, yet the film sensitises audience to its cause. The pivotal factor being family. We see Jitendra Kumar’s character, Aman, in constant turmoil to come out in front of his family. He finds himself stuck between family and love. But towards the end, he gets his family to accept him and his boyfriend Kartik, played by Ayushmann Khurana, for who they are.
The film’s central character is the family, and not the couple. The film fights for family’s acceptance of their sexuality. And it's this very aspect of it that makes it reachable to my family like any other because of relatability. I am sure most parents might have left the halls thinking about how they would react if their children came out as gay or lesbian.
So, as the conversation progressed, it was brought to me, my parents wanted to know more about homosexuality; one of their concerns was procreation. Even though my parents had a vague knowledge of homosexuality earlier, it was never a topic that came up in the household; it was considered unnecessary. I had noticed that they got uncomfortable around it, until now.
My parents now wanted to know more about Section 377 and the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Not that they were not aware of it earlier, they just did not know it was a topic that deserved attention. But now they do.
Ayushmann Khurrana ne apna jaadu kar dikhaya.
It took my parents a day’s time to absorb the information thrown at them. It’s like they say, you can’t expect your parents to process new information and adapt to it.
At the end of the ‘family discussion,’ my mother gave a mic-drop moment, “Aajkal heterosexual couple ke beech mei pyaar nhi hai (these days there's hardly any love between a heterosexual couple), here they are defying all odds to just be together, so love wins.”
I felt proud to have been a part of that conversation. I felt like a proud parent at a child’s PTM.
A huge thanks to Ayushmann Khurrana for bringing us such khuraafati scripts, making such conversations possible.
If you are planning to watch SMZS with friends, cancel it, take your parents just like I did. Yes, my parents were a replacement for friends who stood me up.
The film is written and directed by Hitesh Kewalya. Alongside the Khurrana-Kumar duo, the film also has a brilliant ensemble cast constituting Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta, Maanvi Gagroo, Pankhuri Awasthy, Manu Rishi Chadha and Sunita Rajwar. We also see Bhumi Pednekar in a cameo.
The film hit theatres on 21st February 2020.
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