By Neha Bora
Jack and Johnny went up the hill to live in love and laughter…
Jack ki le li papa ne aur Johny chup gaya bhaag kar…”
Quoting writing Hitesh Kewalya, directly from his latest work ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’.
Director and writer Hitesh Kewalya’s ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ is about the flamboyant, nose-ring wearing, outspoken and melodramatic Kartik and the closeted, timid and hesitant Aman. They both are in love with each other and as the audiences will notice they are both men, making the film a love story with a twist in sexuality.
Kartik and Aman are happily in love with each other until Aman’s father discovers them getting cosy in a train. While Kartik is openly gay, Aman is still closeted and when his father finds out, he, along with most of his family embark on a mission that a ‘homophobic’ parent is likely to take on, discovering his own son’s homosexuality.
The mission involves a pretend suicide, attempt at heterosexual marriage, violence and a lot of emotional blackmail. Amidst all this, a probable metaphor of a riot causing and curfew imposing ‘kaali gobi’ or ‘black cauliflower’ is also floating about.
Like Kewalya’s previous film ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’ the story of ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ too is set in a small town. The soul of this film too resides inside a family, that if the Tripathi’s. The constantly bickering parents who are only ever united in their attempts to sabotage their son’s love life.
The policeman patriarch for a father and the less educated yet smarter of the two mother. A pissed and supporting elder sister who can’t get married due to a glass eye. All of the rest of the uncle, aunt and cousin too are beautifully written into the film, the audiences might in fact feel, perhaps even better than the protagonists.
Aman’s parents have been written especially well, especially with regard to each other. Aman’s mother Sunaina, is a gem, her character basks in itself in one particular scene where she discusses the upcoming court hearing on Article 377. Kewalya’s Sunaina is brilliant is her ‘Maa ke paas dil hota hai!’ and ‘Bechari anpadh aurat kitna samjhegi….’
The protagonists while highly likable, are weighed down by the need to be society’s mirror. Kartik is beautiful in his rainbow cape and nose ring, but he is too preachy, almost everything he says is a ‘jann hit mei jaari’ moral delivery.
The story feels like a frantic mix of family melodrama with the ‘naam-karan’ of a grown man, the ‘kriya-karam’ of a living person and a runaway bride who nobody cares to look for because the film is a comment on ‘homosexuality’ not patriarchy!
The film alsorepeatedly evokes Bollywood’s most popular love story, i.e. DDLJ and its Simran and Raj. It successfully and hence delightfully manages to superimpose Kartik and Aman is place of Simran and Raj in the famous train scene. The wonderfully choreographed scene where Kartik gets beaten up by Aman’s dad with the………………. is delicious and will perhaps be re–watched multiple times with all its melodrama and easy comedy.
The sharp update to one of the strongest and strictest belief of the heterosexual nature of society has been coated in humour and music and simplicity. The intent of this simplicity while perhaps to subtly slide acceptability into the audience’s mind, can also be very caricaturist for certain audiences.
Much like the nursery rhyme ‘Jack and Johnny…’ which is too obvious, almost a lazy attempt, and the film too is too obvious. This gamble, between the politically right and socially pleasing will reveal a winner with time alone.
Actor Ayushmann Khurrana brings his own likability and relatability to all the characters, he performs. While his screen time is much less than that accorded to ‘heroes’ in Bollywood films but his character was meant to be big and colourful and he was exactly that.
He embodied DDLJ’S macho Raj in his attitude of challenging society for love and trying to convince the illogical and violent family of the lover.
Over the course of films, one wonders if one actually likes Ayushmann Khurrana as an actor or perhaps the energy he brings to topics of taboo that have so far only been dealt from the perspective of insult or pity.
Jitendra Kumar’s Aman is a stuck man! Jitendra does wonders as a man who sees no way to his happiness through the circus of society. He is the man whose persistent lover helps him grow, who is inspired by his courageous lover. Jitendra shows us all of this beautifully.
Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta are a team to reckon with. Nobody ever had funnier parents. Neena Gupta is flawless. They are our parents, we know they are stupid people who do despicable things under societal pressure but we will love them.
Everyone in the movie hall! Maanvi Gagroo is spunky and oddly likable in her portrayal of Goggle. Manu Rishi and Sunita Rajwar too are excellent actors who bring this film alive.
This isn’t a revolutionary film and It didn’t want to be, but, one should watch it because one has watched DDLJ or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
FF Ratings: ***