Shubh Mangal Saavdhan star cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar, Seema Pahwa, Brijendra Kala
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan director: RS Prasanna
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan rating: 2.5 stars
When you want to get it on, and you can’t get it up, what do you do?
A Bollywood mainstream movie asking this kind of tricky question deserves serious props, even if it isn’t original. Shubh Mangal Savdhan is a remake of 2013 Tamil film Kalyana Samayal Sadham. But still and all, hurrah.
Sometimes the course of true love is rocky. And Mudit (Khurrana) and Sugandha aka Sugu (Pednekar) find this the hard way when certain male private parts turn limp, and what is meant to be a passionate pre-marital tumble rumbles into a deal-breaker.
Of course, director R Prasanna (who also directed the Tamil version) plays it for laughs. It’s that kind of film. That’s the only way we can watch just how erectile dysfunction can ruin relationships: otherwise it would turn into an anatomy lesson. And the characters surrounding our sad-sack lovers, Mudit’s mother and father, and Sugu’s parents and younger brother, plus sundry uncles and aunts and best friends, are all part of the ha-ha-hee-hee brigade.
When the lines fit right into the situation, we laugh out loud. The highlight of the film is a conversation between a morose Sugu and her mom (the most excellent Pahwa, who is on a roll, after Bareilly Ki Barfi) which attempts to unpack the secret of the birds and the bees. It is hilarious, and is borderline revolutionary because we’ve had fathers and sons do this in our movies, but not so much ma-and-beti’, and certainly not at such length.
A few other bits and pieces are genuinely funny as well. Both Mudit and Sugu play ordinary, and that’s a good thing: we see them sipping ‘thele ki chai’, supping on street-‘chaat’ and picnicking in un-manicured Delhi gardens. We see no well-known monuments at all, which is even better. And the film resists the temptation to tart up the ordinary, which is the best part: no one’s calling attention quirky, everyone is real.
But overall this comedy of middle-class-Dilli-manners-and-mores suffers from a sit-com flatness, and a sagging climax. The film falls into the category of ‘could have been better’, but I’m charmed by the premise and the honesty-minus-vulgarity with which it’s been done.
When the action stays between the two main leads, whom we have seen play so well together in Dum Laga Ke Haisha, the film comes together, terrible pun fully intended. Pednekar once again reminds us just how convincing she can be as a real honest-to-goodness young woman in search of love. I’m now longing to see her do something more than the ‘gharelu-gunwati’ young woman parts : she’s in danger of being typecast. And Khurrana once again is in fine fettle: from a brawny Punjabi fertile Aryan ‘puttar’ that he plays in Vicky Donor to a fellow who can’t, he’s inhabited both ends of spectrum, showing no performance anxiety at all.