A couple in love, the trappings of a middle-class family, and a conflict in the path of their romantic union – this genre (slice-of-life films if one must label it) was artfully presented by directors like Sai Paranjpye, Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Real problems and relatable characters, sprinkled with a healthy dose of humour, etched these films in our minds. But, in the current scheme to pander to saleable escapism, rarely do you get a Bollywood film where you want to sit with the characters and discuss about the humdrum of everyday life over a cup of chai. You get that from Queen, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Tanu Weds Manu, and you almost get it from RS Prasanna’s Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, a remake of the Tamil film, Kalyana Samayal Saadham.
Mudit Sharma (Ayushmann Khurrana) from the NCR, after a short but banal ‘will she, won’t she’ period, gets the girl of his dreams. The families meet over an awkward Skype session, and the couple get engaged, but their sweet courtship meets a hurdle. Erectile dysfunction, though nobody spells it out, or “gent’s problem”, becomes the elephant in the room. Sugandha, (Bhumi Pednekar) being the mature one in the relationship, makes the first move to address it. The couple realises that they have to conquer their own insecurities for the long haul. Complications arise when the families get involved.
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan might not have an engaging story-line, but there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments which keeps the narrative going. Sometimes, even the protagonists take a breather while the family members take over with their antics. Seema Bhargava as Sugandha’s mother is pure gem. To educate her daughter on the rather delicate topic of suhag raat, she turns to the story of Ali Baba. The ‘woman of the world’ tells her daughter that not the 40 thieves, but only Ali Baba gets to enter the metaphorical gufa (cave). There are plenty of moments like this in film. While making out, Mudit sheepishly confesses that he had onion kulcha for lunch, and in another instance, Mudit’s father (Chittaranjan Tripathy) is torn between saving his son’s mardangi (masculinity) and stopping his to-be bahu (daughter-in-law) from storming out of the house without a dupatta. Writer Hitesh Kawalya, through his witty dialogues, perfectly captures the idiosyncrasies of a middle class family. Kudos to him for not using crassness and derogatory innuendos which are passed off as humour in many films.
It is in the second half that the tropes of Bollywood begin to emerge. The groom’s side blaming the girl’s kundali and insisting that she get married to a banana tree, a passionate monologue from the hero on what can only be described as misguided feminism, and a daring stunt (worth an eye roll) to bring home the sweetheart make it all very anti-climatic. What works though is that both Mudit and Sugandha do not associate the problem of erectile dysfunction with masculinity or manliness, and reinstate the fact that a woman’s sexual desire is equal to that of a man. Never in their discussion does Sugandha asks Mudit to man up. The issue at hand, however, gets a superficial treatment.
Ayushmann Khurrana has perfected the art of playing the cocky-yet-vulnerable boy-next-door. Much like in Dum Laga Ke Haisha, here too, Bhumi Pednekar effortlessly portrays Sugandha as smartly negotiating the middle class patriarchy.
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan is brilliant in patches. But despite the stellar cast and some genuinely humorous moments, it is not heartfelt enough to make it to the slice-of-life hall of fame.
The Shubh Mangal Saavdhan review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.