'Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan' review: Well-intended but not enough
Good intention is perhaps the first step towards success. It is never enough, though. To a great extent, this is the problem with writer/director Hitesh Kewalya's Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, a spin-off to the 2017 movie Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, that revolved around a young man's struggle with erectile dysfunction. This time, the focus is on another taboo subject, i.e., same-sex love. Here's our review.
It tells the story of two men in love
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan tells the story of two men- Kartik Singh (Ayushmann Khurrana) and Aman Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar). They work together as sales representatives. They also share the same roof. But the PROBLEM (yes in capitals and bold) is that they sleep together. The couple is also self-aware. They know their parents will never accept their forbidden love.
Kartik and Aman's secret is soon out in the open
The story kicks off after Aman gets a call from his folks in Allahabad, as his mother Sunaina (played beautifully by Neena Gupta) asks him to attend his cousin's wedding. Aman is reluctant to go. But after Kartik insists, the two decide to go; "just as friends" of course. However, their secret is soon out, setting into motion plenty of drama and much hullabaloo.
Undeterred, the couple decides to fight back
To save them the "embarrassment" Aman decides to marry a girl, whom his parents chose for him. But Kartik, being the one who doesn't know what giving up is, decides to fight back. Aman joins him in the battle, albeit a bit late, and the two take on homophobia together. Them fighting against the world makes the movie adorable on many levels.
The movie is tailor-made for Ayushmann
The movie is genuinely funny (in parts) and the family drama, supported by lovely performances by the main cast, is spot on. Staying true to their style, co-producers Aanand L Rai and Himanshu Sharma have done a fine job in bringing alive all the elements of the Ayushmann Khurrana "brand of a small-town romantic comedy". But, that's a major part of the problem here.
The treatment is just too safe and convenient
In their single-minded desire of bringing forward another family entertainer, the makers end up playing too safe and convenient here. In fact, so much of the screen time is devoted to unwarranted family drama, set into action by Aman and Kartik coming out as gay, that it actually takes away all the focus from their love story. The treatment is therefore downright distracting.
Sadly, homosexuality comes off as a mere prop here
On more than one occasion, it feels that Kewalya has chosen superficial writing which is why homosexuality seems just like a prop in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. It feels as if the comic acts and the frequent punch lines are meant only to overshadow the bigger problem of sensitizing the taboo, that should have actually been the heart of this story.
Sure, Ayushmann is compelling, but...
Sure Ayushmann is, as always, confident and compelling. He once said he wants to work in a movie that tackles homosexuality in a fun way, and he did. However, at times his performance seemed off and devoid of experimentation. On the other hand, Jitendra, as his introvert lover, is refreshing and impressive. Meanwhile, Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta are delightful in all their scenes.
Overall, a good first step for mainstream Bollywood
Also powered by its support cast, that includes Manurishi Chaddha, Sunita Rajwar and Maanvi Gagroo, Shubh Mangal surely manages to make you laugh, but at no point does it come close to justifying the subject it picked. It sure is a good first step for mainstream Bollywood, but there is still, undeniably, a long way to go forward. Rating: 2.5/5 stars.