A serious subject doesn't need a serious treatment -- a fact that Ayushmann Khurrana's Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan not just understands but revels in. Touted to be a quirky take on same-sex love, the film traces the journey of a gay couple — Aman Tripathi (Jeetendra Kumar) and Kartik Singh (Khurrana) — and their struggle to get acceptance of the Tripathi family.
Writer-director Hitesh Kewalya handles the sensitive subject gracefully, and with a generous dose of laughter. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan's real win is how thoroughly it eschews stereotypes and never cracks a joke at the expense of one's sexuality; instead it is the opposition of the family which is mined for laughter.
The film takes on homophobia, and not homosexuality. "Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan" effectively showcases the reluctance of the family to embrace their son's sexuality; they prefer to live in denial. For instance, Aman's scientist father, played by Gajraj Rao, literally throws up on seeing his son kissing his boyfriend, and there is disgust on his face each time he sees Aman and Kartik together. Even when his mother, played by Neena Gupta, realises her son's sexual orientation, she believes it to be an illness, a disorder and assures him that they'll get him treated as medical science is so advanced today.
Watch the trailer of "Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan" here
The introduction scene sets the mood, establishing the characters and the storyline. Aman and Kartik are shown as a happy gay couple living together in Delhi. Back home in Allahabad, Aman's parents are oblivious to their son's sexual preferences and are trying to set him up with a pretty girl, Kusum (Pankhuri Awasthy).
It's during a train journey for a wedding that Tripathi family gets to know of Aman and Kartik's relationship. And the rest of the film is about the duo convincing the family, breaking stereotypes along the way and working towards a 'happy ending' they feel they deserve by all means.
There are quite a few intelligent references to Amitabh Bachchan also — "Kaun Banega Crorepati", iconic dialogue from "Deewar" and the Jai-Veeru song from "Sholay" — that are bound to catch your attention.
Ayushmann has ticked yet another box on his checklist with this film. He is in form, and convincingly pulls off his flamboyant character without losing grip even for once. The scene where he questions the lyrics of the nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill, and asks why can't Jack go with Johhny, is quite powerful and has the potential to become the gay anthem in the future.
Jitendra's character is the perfect foil to Ayushmann -- subtle, grounded and a man of few words. When he comes out to his parents, he explains love with references to dopamine, hypothalamus and oxytocin — a little bit of a disconnect there for the audience if they don't know what exactly those mean.
What works the best is Aman and Kartik's onscreen chemistry and their endearing moments together. The scene where the two lock lips at a family wedding is hilarious, especially when the family members come up with a bizarre story to explain it. Agreed it's not the first time a film on homosexuality has been made in Bollywood, but definitely for mainstream cinema, this is quite a bold move.
Neena Gupta lights up the mood every time she comes on screen. Her dialogues and effortless comic timing is a treat to watch. Ably supporting her is Gajraj Rao, playing a hard-to-like father, who manages to make you laugh with his inimitable style. Though their onscreen chemistry in "Badhaai Ho" garnered applause, here it feels a bit underwhelming. However, there's this naughty innuendo about Neena relieving her husband whenever he is 'upset' that is kind of sweet.
Supporting cast including actors Manu Rishi as Chaman Tripathi, Sunita Rajwar as Champa Tripathi and their daughter Maanvi Gaagroo as Goggle have short but sweet parts, and thankfully they don't end up appearing as mere caricatures. However, the various individual stories are kind of distracting from the main plot and lead characters at times.
Gelling well with the narrative is the music of the film with quirky lyrics that go on to explain the mood of the moment. And don't miss watching the peppy number — Pyaar Bina Chain Kahan Re — giving full retro feel with everyone blingged up and Bappi Da making a sweet cameo.
"Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan" is an important film that talks about an important subject conveyed in the simplest manner without sounding preachy at any given point. It touches your heart, makes you laugh and stays with you for a long time.