After addressing and tackling taboo topics like sperm donation, erectile dysfunction, baldness, loneliness – the ‘Ayushmann Khurrana’ genre now with ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ ventures into the exploration of the acceptance of homosexual relationships by the rather conservative and homophobic people of small towns. Addressing homophobia more than the inner struggles of a homosexual, the movie straight away introduces us to the gay couple Kartik (Ayushmann) and Aman (Jitendra), who are already in love and living together in Delhi. Kartik has had his share of beating when he came out to his father in his teenage. He is now much flamboyant and carefree. Even thinking of the same seems rather impossible for the timid Aman who has his homophobic parents back in Allahabad.
To tackle this war of love and acceptance by parents, debutant director Hitesh Kewalya in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan chooses the iconic template of DDLJ – the popular heterosexual love classic for Indians – paving way for the easiest lesson to be taught to be dumb and naive audiences. The appeal gets instantly massier, and so the internal turmoil of the individuals is told in long conversations rather its conveyance through the eyes. If one still cannot get it, there are scenes of directly reading out definitions of taboo terms from Google and scenes where the news anchors talk about them. For the ones seeking a deep cinematic metaphor, Hitesh injects it with a track of black cauliflower full of worms – depicted as a metaphor for homophobic minds.
When all goes crazy once the relationship of Kartik-Aman is out with a kiss in open, the struggle for parental acceptance begins, served with enough humor to not make it look preachy for the most part. Ayushmann plays the instigator Kartik with much ease who wears his heart on sleeve and wastes no time in saying his mind out to Aman and his family. The gay-look stereotyping is little, with him wearing a nose ring to appear strikingly differently in a first look. More than Kartik, the narrative traverses the journey of Aman, who accidentally comes out to first his homophobic dad and then obviously to the extended family. Jitendra’s act as Aman is sheer novelty personified, playing aptly the ice to the fire of his love Kartik. The chemistry between them is lovable and fresh, and their love is portrayed respectfully – far from the stereotypical representation in the Hindi cinema.
Gajraj Rao is immensely likable as Shankar Tripathi, the patriarch who gets always disliked for his ignorant attitude as he turns a blind eye to his son’s wish, and at times, his wife’s too. His hilarious dance face-off with Ayushmann in the Gabru song is to watch out for. Always sharing an adorable chemistry with him is Neena Gupta as Sunaina, the straightforward mother reluctantly but slowly accepting her son’s reality. The Tripathi parents have their sidetracks of self’s real love of past and a love-hate camaraderie with their extended family -Champa(Sunita Rajwar), Chaman(Manu Chadha), and Goggles(Maanvi Gagroo) – again 3 remarkable actors wonderfully playing their part.
The subplots weaved around the entire extended family do bring laughter initially, but too much of them in the second half takes away from our Kartik-Aman pair, and their love and emotional struggle. The big picture should always have stayed around and about them – but then – the humor was intended to not fade even for a while for the audience, hence the family drama keeps on returning to evoke constant laughter, though the laughs do wear out gradually. Bhumi Pednekar has a cameo irrelevant to the narrative, but her presence on screen is always welcome. There is also a scene about Shankar arranging a ceremony of the death and rebirth of his son Aman sans the disease of homosexuality. It never lands and is stupid and unfunny.
When compared to the previous Shubh Mangal Saavdhan(2017) movie, the intrafamily drama here isn’t churned out cleverly enough and has been dumbed down with fewer witty lines, with the conveyance of each situation happening with loud jarring background music. Also, for the movie belongs to the Ayushmann Khurrana genre, the social message is constantly reminded of in clear lines, in case one forgets midway. In a runtime of around 120 minutes, the prime factor that makes Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan a soaring winner is its proud existence, for Hitesh with his talented ensemble cast confidently delivers a straight-in-your-face love story of two homosexual individuals, without shying away from any talk about homosexuality and its obstructor homophobia.
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