Shubh Mangal Saavdhan Review (SPOILERS): A Couple Learning to Think as “Us” Instead of “You” and “Me”

I already put up my no spoilers review, I encourage you to read that one, because this is a really sweet movie that deserves to be seen and not spoiled.  On the other hand, we do mostly know the plot just from the trailer, so I guess in this case spoilers aren’t THAT bad.  It’s not what happens, it’s how it happens.

Whole plot in one paragraph (no real surprises):

Ayushmann and Bhumi work in the same office area, he sees and likes her, she sees him seeing her and likes him.  But instead of coming up and talking to her, he jumps straight to submitting an online proposal to her profile.  Bhumi is mad at him because she wanted a “romantic” love marriage, but also can’t turn him down because he is such a nice guy, and her family is excited, and his family is excited.  She has one last moment of doubt at the engagement, telling her mother not to confirm until she tells her to, and then she tells her.  It is her decision in the end.  While the wedding is planned for 6 months, Ayushmann and Bhumi fall more and more in love, spending time together, riding his bike, and finally while her parents are gone he comes into her house and they sweetly plan to have sex.  And then it doesn’t happen, and he admits he couldn’t do it.  The two of them try to solve the problem separately, Bhumi buys sexy lingerie and tries to act like the women in porn videos, Ayushmann goes to back alley doctors and tries herbal remedies.  Finally at the last minute, he tries to break the engagement, telling her it’s not fair, and Bhumi rejects that, saying it is her decision to marry him and she still wants to.  Ayushmann reluctantly goes along, but is still stressed and unhappy and so is Bhumi.  Especially when slowly the families find out and put even more pressure on them, Bhumi’s parents encouraging her to run away rather than marry him.  It all comes to a head the night before the wedding when they sneak away and lock themselves in a room and the family slowly notice and start placing bets and crying and otherwise worrying over whether they will manage to have sex.  They come out and he reports to his friends that they did it, while she reports they didn’t and the family doesn’t know what to think.  The morning of the wedding, she surprises him with his ex-girlfriend who his friends brought over hoping to help since he never had a problem with her. Bhumi runs off, Ayushmann tries to follow her, is stopped by his family and her family, and gives a big speech about how they have ruined everything, focusing on all the small parts of the wedding instead of on what really matters, that they love each other.  And then runs off, finds Bhumi in a gondola lift, jumps from one lift to another and hangs from midair trying to reach her, she finally forgives him and helps him in, and they return to the wedding venue to have their own kind of wedding, circling the nuptial fire in the clothes they ran off in while the family cries and sits around.  And the twist is, they still don’t have sex.  Not on the honeymoon, not after they return home, not for months and months until suddenly while sitting with his family one day, he feels signals her to meet him upstairs, and it happens.

 

 

Let’s start with the surprising parts of it.  The things that were better than I expected.  First, the way the initial situation is handled by them separately.  That felt realistic to me, that they would naturally feel more comfortable discussing sexual issues with their friends of the same gender rather than each other.  And that they would both focus on “solving” it by taking the responsibility for themselves.  That felt real for a new couple, still not used to thinking in terms of “us” instead of “me” and “you”.

And the end result when they come together again was handled very nicely, tenderly rather than with humor.  Bhumi has psyched herself up to imitate the women in sexy videos, has arranged a tryst in a remote place, and then forces herself to undo her top and reveal lingerie underneath, clearly unhappy with what she is doing.  And Ayushmann almost immediately understands, and reaches out to embrace her, rather than kiss her.  This is what makes him want to break the engagement, how it is clearly breaking her, making her feel like there is something wrong with her, making her miserable.

This is especially good in contrast to their original “almost” time of having sex.  This time, Bhumi is trying so hard to “be sexy”.  But that time, she was naturally sexy, and so was he.  There was no pressure or fear, just excitement.  They were being married in a few weeks, they had spent months slowly getting to know each other, going from gently touching their bare feet to her gripping him from the back as they ride on the motorcycle.  And now it feels natural for him to kiss her when he lets her off at her house.  And then to knock on the door and invite himself in.  And to kiss her again, suddenly, while they are kneeling on the floor looking for her phone battery.  And then to move to the couch and the bedroom and clearly say to each other that yes, they want to do this.  This is how it is supposed to be, just between them, just for them, because they love each other and they want to.

Which is kind of the point of the whole film.  Sex is between a man and a woman and it shouldn’t involve anyone else.  In any way.  They should be able to have this secret experience together.  And they should also be able to NOT have this experience, if they choose.

That’s Bhumi’s argument when he tries to break the engagement.  She chose him.  And he can’t take that away from her.  She wants to marry him, no one else.  And sex is not the only issue.  It sounds almost naive, her argument that if they can’t do “that”, they can still go to movies, talk, do everything else, what difference does it make?  But it’s also kind of true.  They love each other, nothing else should matter, including sex.  Or if it does matter, that is a decision she is allowed to take for herself, not her parents for her, or his parents, or even him.

And, finally, they start to think as a team.  To talk through what she wants and what he wants.  To figure out what kind of a life they want.  That’s what makes the second half of the film so interesting, there is so much family everywhere around them, but the two of them manage to build their own little world inside of it.

Which is, ultimately, what gives them their happy ending.  There is no magic pill (viagra isn’t mentioned), no therapy, no advice from elders.  They just need to be together and be in love and relax and let it happen when it happens.

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13 thoughts on “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan Review (SPOILERS): A Couple Learning to Think as “Us” Instead of “You” and “Me”

  1. It seems to me just another movie about “intimicy has to be handled intimately” …that it is a thing about the two involved. Here it is done with too much family around and putting pressure actively, in JabHarryMetSejal with no family around but still pressure from family-bound issues.

    Thanks for the nice review 🙂

    Like

    • Yes, it’s a very adult way of handling it. Instead of the usual over the top jokes, it’s something between a man and a woman and no one else’s business but their own.

      On Sun, Sep 3, 2017 at 5:18 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

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