Movie Review: Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Droop Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein Or What?

Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar go at a ‘gent’s problem’ which is funny in parts but marred by an anti-climax

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Movie Review: Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Droop Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein Or What?
two and a half stars movie ratings

Get this. Mummyji sprinkles philosophy, maintaining, “A woman’s body is a hidden treasure.” Next, summoning up a metaphor, she states, that only Ali Baba can enter the cave (ahem), and not the 40 thieves.

A water tap runs dry, a bourbon biscuit goes soggy.  Ccc…lunk the biscuit falls in a cup of tea. Aur yeh bhi lo, a daddyji thunders, “Nothing about my son can be small.” Get the picture, then? Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (had to memorise the title as in a school exam), directed by Tamil cinema’s actor-writer-director R.S Prasanna, set out to titillate the audience, even while garbing itself under the burqa of a family entertainer. Clever gambit.

Now, since the producer of this rehaul of Prasanna’s Chennai-located droopedy Kalyana Sawayal Saadham (2013) happens to be none other than Aanand L. Rai, the confectioner of shaadi chukkars as in Tanu Weds Manu, expect plenty of micro-oven-warmed homilies, cutie-pooh parents, and a quirky supporting ensemble. If you ask me, the original, which may not have been any great shakes but a boffo hit, has been recooked on a cunningly-lit low simmer.

A still from shubh mangal saavdhan
A Still From Shubh Mangal Saavdhan

Can’t alienate the wholesome-craving audiences, no? So go easy on the double entendres, on the phallic symbols and strive to make it a ‘gent’s problem’. Hush up words like erectile dysfunction and  temporary impotence. Keep the dialoguebaazi veiled, far away from those ‘Sarkailo khatiya’ dhinchak days of the embarassing, pajama naadawala rib-ticklers from the fertile Bhawan of David Dhawan. Just saying.

Okay, at this point I’d like clarify that I’m no prude. Sex or the lack of it vis-à-vis libidinous males (as in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Sabse Bada Sukh , Basu Chatterjee’s Shaukeen and Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor) can be howlarious. Admittedly, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan has its guffaw-out-loud moments. Moreover, the stressed-out relationship between Mudit (Ayushmann Khurrana) and Sugandha aka Sugu (Bhumi Pednekar) is tackled with sensitive rewriting, the sort which compels you to come close to the hearts and minds of a couple on the cusp of marriage.

Indeed, the first-half of this below-the-waist dilemma of Mudit is replete with details of the manners and foibles of the Dilliwallas. He’s from Gurgaon, she’s from Moti Bagh. Within the cloistered morality of their middle class milieu, the elders  range from the nosey Parkers to the downright goofball. As for the dubious doctors and Mudit’s buddies, they do their numbers with the required quotient of concerned bystanders instead of tumbling over the top.

bhumi pednekar and ayshmann khurrana in shubh mangal saavdhan
Bhumi Pednekar And Ayushmann Khurrana In Shubh Mangal Saavdhan

Gratifyingly, Sugandha isn’t portrayed as a shrinking violet, she’s assertive and capable of taking an independent stance. Sorrily, though, it’s the climax (er, no pun intended) which spins out of control, transporting you from the world of quasi-reality to la-la-land. The last 15 minutes or so made me cross-eyed, “Duh, what in the name of Beelzebub is happening out here?”

Clearly, the sex comedy has its entertaining and believable segments. It’s the bid to present the film as something else—a brief bump in the route between an engagment to marriage – that’s as fake as a Rs 300 currency note. In the event, if you’re willing to accept a blend of a plausible plot situation with the needless element of the incredulous, then here’s your ticket to ride.

The production design is detailed especially in conveying the claustrophobia of Delhi’s middle-income group colonies.

bhumi pednekar shubh mangal saavdhan
Bhumi Pednekar in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan

Add to that the bonus of the ever-engaging supporting cast, dominated by Mummyji Seema Pahwa. Bhumi Pednekar oozes confidence and uses her eyes and voice effectively. Incidentally, Lekha Washington played the part in the Tamil original, and was absolutely endearing. This is not to say Ms Pednekar was the wrong choice. Not at all.  Still guys, check out Ms Washington (Kalyana Sawayal Saadham is accessible on Youtube). She’d be an outstanding import to the Bollywood enclave for sure.

As for Ayushmann Khurrana, he plays the difficult part of Mudit with restraint, conveying a mix of vulnerability and befuddlement about the gent’s thing-thang.

In sum, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan is neither all good nor all bad. Keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.

Image Source: youtube/erosnow