Well, this was a delightful movie! I had high hopes based on the trailer, but then Toilet was such a disappointment with a really similar premise that I got spooked. But no! This movie is great! No reservations about it at all, exactly the sweet love story the trailer implied.
Moviemavengal told me that Bhardwaj’s review told her that this was based on a Tamil film and then I confirmed that through wikipedia (I always have to cite my sources!). I just looked up the Tamil original, and it seems very similar to the remake. Not in the plot, no duh that would be similar, but in stuff like also having two actors who are known, but not big stars. And having a smaller release and reception (no detailed plot summary in wikipedia tells me that). So, interesting that this was the kind of film chosen to be remade in Hindi, and by the same director.
It was a really really smart decision on Aanand L. Rai’s part. This is exactly the kind of film you should remake, easily translatable to another region, both in terms of plot and tone, and with a good track record of making a profit. Also, cheap! The plot actually REQUIRES non-stars to be in it, and a smaller budget look. It is better that way, plus it covers your risk if it doesn’t work out. Oh, and very smart to keep the director but nothing else. The director is going to be the one to translate his story ina way that will work, but won’t be on screen distracting the audience into going “wait, who’s that guy?” The way you would if a lead actor was translated over.
At it’s heart, this is dealing with an all India conflict. The lack of sexual agency, and really any kind of agency, on the part of the grown children of a large Indian family. you can translate that to anywhere, even to the overseas community if you wanted to. Our hero and heroine want to make their own choices, to live their own life, but are trying to balance that with not disappointing their parents, to find a middle way. Only, that’s impossible. You have to pick one side or the other, either you are running your own life or your parents are running it for you.
I suppose it’s not a spoiler to say that this is about impotency? I mean, it’s right there in the trailer. And that’s why I wanted to see the movie. Not because I am fascinated with male genitalia and their issues, but because it was such a great concept for exploring the stress around a wedding. And generally the hidden issues behind arranged marriages. You can say it’s about family compatibility and biodata and tradition and religion and all of that, but really it’s about grandchildren. And before grandchildren comes sex. The whole big family wedding thing, is just about covering up that this couple is about to have sex and we all know it.
And this movie rewards that premise! The tricky balance of love, family, pressure, and sex, is handled just right. It’s not a cheap issue, and it’s not just a source of humor, it is something is at the heart of everything else.
Let’s see, what else can I say without spoiling? Ayushmann is great. Another perfect Ayushmann role. The “average man”, trying his best but not a natural hero. Which makes him more heroic, he is a guy who actually has to try, unlike our perfect Hrithik-Siddharth-Varun-Ranveer-Ranbir types. He doesn’t have the right line at his finger tips, or the perfect dance routine, or any of that.
And Bhumi is GORGEOUS!!!! The film establishes her over and over again as an “average” girl, the female counterpart to Ayushmann. Young and dreamy and romantic, but aware that she isn’t the type who usually makes men stop and stare. And I can believe that, the way she is styled and her make-up and the way she is presented onscreen.
But combined with her “average” kind of look, is the fact that she looks so much better than those skinny “gorgeous” actresses. Can we just acknowledge that a Kameez is meant to be worn by a woman with breasts and hips and yes, even a bit of a tummy? Especially the square low cut top style. You look at her in this and go “oh yeah, that looks right. That looks like a woman/me”. I really hope that she keeps this look and that directors keep working with it, making her look like a real person, but a gorgeous real person.
The rest of the cast are a bunch of people I sort of know from other stuff. All good, all smaller character actors. With smaller character parts. That’s one of the best things about this film, it isn’t just the hero and heroine in a vacuum, and their families aren’t just villainous, they all have their own personalities. Bhumi’s mother is a spokesperson in an ad film, her little brother is obsessed with his gameboy, her father and older uncle have a constant power struggle, everyone has their own little story, it makes the film feel so much richer.
The songs are small and sweet and support the love story, the performances are wonderful, the story is good, I guess what I am saying is, total recommendation! Just a good small film that will make you smile.
I can’t decide which one I’m more excited to see: Bareilly Ki Barfi or this one! These two may be *the* Hindi rom coms of the year, right? Running Shaadi was definitely a sleeper hit, Badrinath was problematic, Meri Pyaari Bindu was very good but SPOILER!…not technically a HEA, Half Girlfriend was not very good apparently (though I still want to see it), and OK Jannu doesn’t even deserve mentioning and does Toilet count?. And then there’s Jab Harry Met Sejal…and there are no more Hindi rom-coms coming out this year that I see?
What are your top three so far? I love that there were more rom-coms this year than last. I’ve got a feeling next year won’t have as many.
Can I ask you what you liked in Meri Pyaari Bindu? I thought it will be much better, and don’t consider it a rom-com.
Raabta! Don’t forget Raabta! Or was that too epic to really be a “rom-com”? I think I still like Running Shaadi best, and then Bareilly Ki Barfi and this one may he tied for second place.
Oh, good! Because I really like both Bhumi and Ayushmann; now to find out if it’s playing near me…
Definitely worth watching. Maybe not worth driving two plus hours for, it’s not the film of the century or anything, but a very pleasant way to spend a few hours.
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