September 1, 2017 / 2:12 PM / 21 days ago

Movie Review: Shubh Mangal Saavdhan

Handout still from the film "Shubh Mangal Saavdhan"

The language and milieu have changed, but the problem remains the same in R. S. Prasanna's "Shubh Mangal Saavdhan" (a chant uttered during Hindu weddings), the Hindi remake of his 2013 Tamil film "Kalyana Samayal Saadham" (A Wedding Feast).

Sugandha (Bhumi Pednekar) and Mudit (Ayushmann Khurrana) are in love and engaged to be married, but discover that he has erectile dysfunction after a night alone together goes wrong. This puts a pall of gloom over their marriage. Mudit cannot get over his "non-performance" and Sugandha is a little bewildered that her fiancé is so obsessed with it. "We don't need to have sex, Mudit," she tells him. "There are so many other things we can do. We'll do yoga."

Sugandha might have reconciled herself to a sexless marriage, but Mudit cannot get over it. He does everything ... but see a doctor. He drinks, he sulks, he complains to his friends, he pretends to break up with Sugandha.

Their parents add to the confusion - Sugandha’s are appalled that their future son-in-law is lacking in “mardangi” (masculinity) and Mudit’s are in denial. “He’s my son - nothing on him can be small!” the groom’s father rages. Add this to the usual confusion and chaos that surround an Indian wedding and we have a romantic comedy that has all the makings of a breezy watch, in spite of the thin premise.

What make "Shubh Mangal Saavdhan" a genuinely funny film are writer Hitesh Kevalya's dialogue and a wonderful ensemble cast that delivers that dialogue at the right pitch. Whether it is Seema Pahwa as Sugandha's mother, reprising her roles in "Dum Laga Ke Haisha" and last month's "Bareilly Ki Barfi" as the bride's harried mother, or Anshul Chauhan as the concerned friend, the supporting cast are the real stars.

As for the leading lady and man, Khurrana seems to have perfected the art of playing the distressed, frustrated lover, and he delivers a solid performance in this one. As in his debut film, "Vicky Donor", which found funny ways to talk about sperm donation, a subject we don't talk about openly, Khurrana plays a man with an unspeakable problem with alternating amounts of sheepishness and anger. Pednekar, on the other hand, seems unable to get a handle on her character. In the original film, Lekha Washington's Meera is modern, outspoken and the heart of the story. Sugandha doesn't quite have the same effect.

But it hardly seems to matter. This is one of those films that works on the strength of good writing and some good ensemble acting.



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