Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Jitendra Kumar, Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta
Directors: Hitesh Kewalya
Producer: Bhushan Kumar and Aanand L. Rai
I wouldn’t be going aboard if I say that this film is as important as the Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalise homosexuality.
For far too long has mainstream cinema pussyfooted around homosexuality, using it more as a comic tool than as a social issue that awaits positive acceptance.
The few films that were made around it, like My Brother Nikhil or Onir’s I Am were too serious to reach the last man in the room.
Which is where writer-director Hitesh Kewalya gets it spot on.
If you can wriggle your way into small town ambience, and settle down comfortably with their sensibilities, sensitivities and their sense of humour, hop onto the train and bus for a Tripathi family wedding.
Here’s where Shankar Tripathi’s son Aman is caught kissing his boyfriend Kartik, full-on, on the lips. Amidst all the usual joint family bickerings between the Tripathi women and parental plots to get Aman hitched to a nice girl, many undercurrents surface. As they do in any family.
With several sub-plots going on to make sure there’s not a drop of boredom and much bedroom humour for entertainment, Hitesh’s focus stays on the love story of Aman and Kartik.
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At one point, Chaman Chacha asks Aman, ‘When did you discover you were like ‘this’?’ Aman counters, ‘When did you discover that you were not like this?’ Chacha answers, ‘I was born like this.’ And it dawns on him without any further words that Aman too was ‘born like this’. Understanding dawns.
It takes a while for the viewer to settle down with the Tripathis, with AyushmannKhurrana seeming to ham it up with over drama. But slowly, every character starts contributing to the story and adds his own flavour. By the time it shifts into third gear, the ride gets messier and wackier with a track of Chaman Chacha’s daughter’s wedding thrown in.
As for humour, Aman’s parents provide much of it with Shankar Tripathi getting ‘pareshan’ frequently which is a codeword for wife Sunaina to start taking off her saree. The family knows the codeword too, so you have the chacha’s wife asking her husband, why don’t you also get ‘pareshan’ once in a while?
With sexual undertones, emotions about sons, daughters, parents and family making a colourful backdrop, acceptance of Aman’s romance with Kartik comes along with the family closing ranks when outsiders try to intrude into their family affairs.
After the initial abrasiveness and filmi drama, Ayushmann Khurrana pulls off the role of Kartik with his usual conviction about the unconventional. Jitendra Kumar has an equally tough role as Aman and he manages it with vulnerability. Neena Gupta, Gajaraj Rao, Manu Rishi and Sunita Rajwar as the Tripathi elders are perfect in their small town issues and solutions.
Producer Aanand L Rai shows courage in introducing homosexuality so unabashedly to commercial cinema.
Verdict: For an important social acceptance message that’s told with a lot of small-town entertainment, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan gets a healthy 3.5* rating.