Star Cast: Gulshan Devaiah, Radhika Apte, Sai Tamhankar, Veera Saxena
Director : Harshvardhan Kulkarni
‘Hunterrr’ is about a guy who can’t keep it in his pants.
For Bollywood, where repression masquerading as respectability is still largely the name of the mainstream game, to create a leading man who can confess to being led by his nether regions, is, um, uplifting. But the sheer unevenness of the proceedings shows just how difficult it is to go all the way in this kind of film, where a man is a hunterrr, tick, and a woman, well, prey. Tick, tick.
Mandar Ponkshe ( Devaiah), whose name itself suggests mild lewdness going by the reaction of his two best friends, makes the connection between sex-and- physical-need. Out loud. That he also equates it to daily elimination, which is also `a need’, sets the tone for ‘Hunterrr’ : that it will state the obvious, and underline it. No subtle notes here.
So there goes our Mandar, tracing a confusing timeline. The film zigs into the past, zags to the present, jumps back a little, repeating this pattern while showing us how he gets into the sex thing in the first place. And how he progresses, from a panting teen to a horny young fellow to an adult with uncontrolled lust, where after sowing ‘hundred, not out’, wild oats, he is looking to settle. Or is he?
The trouble with ‘Hunterrr’ is that it is largely banal. The existence of sex addicts is well-documented , and Mandar’s journey is much too generic : the first experience of an ‘adult’ film, the going through a string of women, the reaching the point of wanting to stay, not stray. Through all of this, we get no special insights into this kind of male, who grows in years but not in sexual or any other kind of maturity.
The women are written as a clutch of clichés, too. The sweet virginal college kid type (Saxena). The buxom Savita Bhabhi type (played by Tamhankar, saved in the cell-phone under that monicker), fulfilling the earth-mother-fecund- nourisher stereotype ; the dry-faced game-playing looking-for-afternoon-action type: all tropes.
Mandar is a ‘type’, too. He calls himself a ‘Vasu-type’ (which apparently means a guy who, as we said right in the beginning, can’t keep it in etc). When it comes to a film that wants to be more than just a crude-humping sex comedy, ‘types’ are not enough. It needs more spikiness, more specificity, more angularity.
What saves it is the unexpected sweetness, leavened with a little bit of surprise, of the relationship between Mandar and Tripti (Radhika Apte), the regular Jane who admits to a few relationships ( even, shudder, physical ones). Devaiah, who does a good job as the tongue-hanging-out-average-bloke-in-lust, works well with Apte, who gets in a bit of balance by being the kind of girl who is able to make a choice. And both Tamhankar and Saxena make the most of their roles, conveying a sense of emotional fragility and loss when the hunterrr moves past them.
If the writing were sharper, Mandar’s libidinous meander would have had meaning : I wanted to know more about what makes him tick. How does he feel when he notches up another conquest? Triumph? How about self-loathing and shame ( not necessarily the Michael Fassbender kind) ? Doesn’t that go with the territory? ‘Hunterr’ could have been a genuinely ‘adult’ comedy of manners, but it stays right where it begins, the phrase ‘coming-of-age’ functioning more as eliciting an embarrassed titter than reaching the goal-post.
And what does it say about Indian society that men can be out-there hunters, and women have to be content to be under-the-radar prey? When will Bollywood give us a film in which men and women are equal opportunity offenders? Can it ever?