Pati Patni Aur Woh Review (No Spoilers): A Sex Comedy With Smarts, and Soul

Okay, I am going to describe this in a way that will excite a very small subset of people: this is the movie that the director of Happy Bhaag Jayegi can make now that he finally has a decent budget. Okay, now all the Happy Bhaag Jayegi/Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi superfans can rush out and buy tickets! For the rest of you, I guess I still have to sell it somehow. Really, believe me, you will like it!

The thing about sex, is that it is funny. And it is also important. And both of those things lend themselves to film. Usually films about sex are either totally comic (“ha-ha, that ugly guy is trying to have sex with that beautiful woman!”), or totally serious (“oh no, that beautiful woman is sexually unsatisfied!”). But the very best films treat sex seriously, and that is where they find the comedy. Sex is about intimacy, about opening yourself up to another person in the most vulnerable way. And that brings with it all kinds of possibilities for people to hurt each other, or help each other, or just be together. That’s what this film is about. The way that sex makes us feel about ourselves, and what that makes us do. And it is about that for a man, his wife, and the other woman. All three characters are equally carefully drawn for us to understand how sex is driving them to do stupid impulsive hurtful things. And at the same time, we also understand how ultimately funny and small sex is, and therefore those stupid impulsive hurtful things aren’t tragic, but simply funny.

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And this is a cast that is very good at being funny. Not at crazy slapstick comedy, but at character based comedy. Karthik and Bhumi have a great little rhythm together, the funny stuff is in what they don’t say, in the way a raised eyebrow or a glance across the room lets them talk to each other. Aparshakti Khurrana plays the hero’s best friend or, as I have come to think of it, “an Aparshakti kind of role”. Really, how did he find such a firm niche so fast? And then you have Sunny Singh making a late great entry, and the older generation of parents who start out boring and then bring their all for a great comic set piece late in the film. Ananya is there too, she is fine, luckily her character is essentially just herself, so she just has to be natural.

The director is the true star thought. Okay, the director and Karthik. Karthik is soooooooooooooo good. And I think, if you haven’t seen his other movies, you wouldn’t realize just how good he is. He has a couple of classic “Karthik Aaryan monologue” moments, but he plays them in character, the way this man would give this speech, not the way his typical fast talking character would give it. And he treads a very careful line of allowing the audience to like his character, but never ask us to approve of what he is doing, even if we understand it. But also, the director! He keeps the story moving along so fast that I didn’t even notice there weren’t real song sequences, that the film was over two hours long, and that the plot took so many twists and turns I could hardly keep up.

Mudassar Aziz directed, and also wrote the screenplay. He has always been stronger as a writer than a director, until now. He wrote Dulha Mil Gaya (village girl has an arranged marriage to rich city guy, he abandons her, she comes to the city and gets a make over and a mentorship from awesome supermodel), and Happy Bhaag Jayegi (runaway bride jumps into the wrong truck and ends up being brought to Pakistan and given as a gift to a young politician), and Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi (Wrong girl is kidnapped through a name confusion). As you can see from those brief descriptions, he writes GREAT stories! The problem is, he never seems to have enough money, or faith from his producers, to bring out the full story he wants to tell. When I watch his films, I have this frustrating sense of eating a sandwich with no filling But not this time! For once, he had producers with the patience to let him find the perfect full complete version of the story he wanted to tell.

I mostly watched this for Shahrukh, but it had a really great plot idea! And then it didn’t live up to it somehow

Let’s talk about those producers for a second. Apparently the plan for BR Chopra films is to take their library of classics and remake them, but not just remake them for no reason. Like Ittefaq before, this film takes a story we think we know, and updates it for the modern era. The conflicts, the larger social statements, they are all new. Without spoiling too much, I can tell you that the BR Chopra original, for example, set a steady homemaker wife opposite a working independent single woman, it wasn’t just a comedy about a man cheating, it was a consideration of the changing role of woman in Indian society. In the modern era, both the “wife” and the “other” are working women, it’s not about that, that is no longer the same kind of conflict. Instead it is about (as Bhumi’s character directly says at one point), “single-screen” versus “multiplex”, the divide in Indian society between the new updated cities and the lagging undeveloped regions.

It’s an updated remake, and it is a good remake, and it is a good film to watch. Not just because you will laugh your way through it, not just because it has an ultimately good message about love and respect and understanding, but because it is about sex. And sex is a good thing for everyone to talk about, not the details of it, but how it makes you feel and the power it has over you.

Really! Watch it! It will give you a lot to think about.

17 thoughts on “Pati Patni Aur Woh Review (No Spoilers): A Sex Comedy With Smarts, and Soul

  1. You got me at director of Happy Bhag Jayegi.I love how you said Ananya is essentially playing herself. Yes, most newcomers need at least 4-5 films before they get better. And good for her for realizing that and taking her time before playing a more demanding role. Alia made that mistake in Highway and Jhanvi is doing the same with her Pilot movie. It was frustrating to see Kartik’s progress in Luka Chuppi. He was quite good in parts but falters occasionally. I hope he’s better here. It’s nice how all these young actors are improving film by film. Another example is Kriti in Panipat.As for Bhumi, why oh why do they need to make her look so fair? As with Kajol and Bipasha, Bollywood is never satisfied unless they bleach every dusky skinned beauty.

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    • Yaaaaay, another Happy Bhaag Jayegi watcher! And yes, this is a really really good use of Ananya. It’s also a role that, if someone else were to play it, I would say “so-and-so was wasted in a part that was mostly reacting and not acting”. Ananya didn’t exactly take the greatest role in the world away from a struggling young actress.

      On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 5:24 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Wasn’t Ananya supposed to be good from your SOTY 2 review? I recall you saying she had a spark and did well in the film. Not just in yours but i remember reading a lot of reviews that said she’s the only one in that film who could act decently and showed some potential. Haven’t seen that one or this so can’t comment on her acting. It is good that she isn’t taking huge demanding roles though. She has time for that anyway. Jahnvi is doing a biopic right? I haven’t seen Dhadak so i can’t comment on her acting but i did see a lot of reviews saying she’s bland onscreen and wasn’t impressive. Wish those more demanding roles were given to someone who had real talent proved in an audition process but of course the directors want a known name.

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        • Ananya definitely had spark and was easy to watch in SOTY, the same in this film. Neither movie really required a lot of layers or subtlety or depth in the performance, but what she had to do, she did well. Haven’t seen Dhadak either, so I can’t speak to that, but I’ve certainly seen plenty of other movies where I felt like the young hero or heroine just wasn’t up to everything that was demanded of them, but might have been good in a smaller simpler part. This was a great role for Ananya at this moment.

          On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 1:30 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • True, i agree with that. I was just curious about your honest opinion of her because she seems to get a lot of hate online. A lot of people bash her acting and call hee talentless, i think for the most part it’s because she got her films through connections but honestly I don’t mind if these nepokids get roles, just as long as they humbly move their way up and outsiders get decent roles to. Tara Sutaria did get opurtunity with SOTY2 as well but i heaed her role was only there to really make the others more likable and that her character had absolutely no growth or anything. It was basically a role that I can tell would never have been given to a nepokid. But still, if someone’s talented i think they can work to prove themself in any role, no matter how flat the character is. And she is still getting some opportunities like with Marjaavan, but i dont think she can really act naturally. Although we’d alll want the outsider to succeed more, sometimes it is the nepokid who is more talented. As in the case of many. It’s just before there was always an equal or even better outsider for every insider. Kareena vs Priyanka. Rani vs Aish. Deepika Vs Sonam. There were a lot of outsiders who gained more popularity than the star kids. Today though seems like with this new influx of actors, that none of the star kids are getting true competition from the outsiders. There is Bhumi (who isn’t fully an outsider right but not exactly a star kid) and Taapsee and Radhika and all that but they don’t seem super mainstream to me. Seems like Jahnvi Sara Ananya are getting all the buzz. And Ishaan and apparently Ahan Pandey who will debut with a yrf film too. But atleast Karthik Aryan can give Ishaan some competition. when it comes to the females, there are not worthy outsiders but a lot of them don’t jave that ‘mainstream’ feel, compared to before how a lot of the outsiders had the combo of glamor and talent. I’m glad there’s more diversity in looks in the industry now but can’t deny that having a glamourous look is one of the factors of a lot of celebrities’ success. Tara S did have that look so had she proved to be a good actress she could have easily given Alia Ananya Sara Jahnvi a run for their money. But she seems bland on screen.

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          • Huh, You’ve given me a lot to think about.

            Ananya definitely has something onscreen, if she was an outsider and someone said “I saw her screen test and she just sparkled”, I would believe them. She isn’t a great actress at all, but she has that camera quality that is just luck and genetics. You know? Not prettiness, lots of people are pretty, but only a few people can really grab the camera in that special way. I would have cast her in SOTY and this film purely based on merit. But I wouldn’t cast her in a different role, one that requires more than that. I think that’s where nepotism (or any kind of fuzzy casting, casting couch would fit her too) bothers me. When it is a role that requires a better performance than the person being cast is capable of giving. On the other hand, that camera quality really is inborn, so it kind of makes sense that if you come from a movie star family, you would be born having that. You can look at Alia and her sister and her mother and see it easily enough. Ananya and her father look nothing alike, but I remember young Chunky onscreen and thinking “wow, who is this guy?” He wasn’t handsome, but he had something.

            I like your parallels of Kareena-Priyanka, Rani-Aish, Deepika-Sonam. If I was looking at long term careers, acting ability, and power in the industry, I would put Kareena and Rani over PC and Aish, but Deepika over Sonam. I guess I don’t see being born into the industry as necessarily guaranteeing a successful career, or guaranteeing a lack of talent. It’s a case by case basis. And yes, in SOTY I was sure Tara was going to be the stronger performer but it was Ananya all the way. And Tara had plenty of opportunities, I think. If I compare it to SOTY1, Tara had the Varun role and Ananya had the Sid role. And Varun was definitely able to make an impact in that slightly smaller part. Tara just doesn’t have “it” as much as Ananya did.

            On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 2:23 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Sorry for all the typos! Also Rani is def a better actress than Aish but Aish did have good dance numbers, star power and the ability to attract fans and roles. But Rani def is more talented

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          • And Rani ended up having the career that lasted longer. I mean, technically they are both still acting, and of course Rani married Adi, but can we agree at this point Rani is far more legitimately respected in the industry than Aish?

            On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 2:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • *** i should have actually said Preity vs Rani as they were neck and neck at one point and thought of as equals although Rani is more thought of today.

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          • Comparing them, I would say it is less about birth and more about boyfriends. Preity got stuck with jerky Ness Wadia who messed up her life and made her want to take a break, and Rani got Adi who supports her and helps her career.

            On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 2:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yes Rani is def more respected than Aish and had the more impressive career without a doubt. But Aishwarya still pulled big roles towards her, like Chalte Chalte which eventually went to Rani and it’s pretty interesting how she rose up without being able to act well. Don’t know if this will go under your comment , for some reason I’m only able to reply to the main comment but this is in reply to the aish rani comment

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          • Yes agree! My theory is that the early 2000s saw the rise of supermodel/beauty pageant actresses, cast just for looks. And personally I think someone like Rani, who is from the industry and talented and works hard, is better than someone like Aish whose main entry was being pretty.

            On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 2:44 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yea, i agree. It’s really about their personal lives and Preity and Rani took breaks where they really shouldn’t have. I mean Rani was playing an older woman type of role to Ranbir in Saawariya when she was what 28 or 29 during the time of filming which would have been in 06/07 and Preity too took a step back too early. Still astonished at how short of a peak both of these actresses had when you think about how popular they were. From 2007 onwards seems like all the newcomers suddenly started getting roles and there wasn’t much space for these “older actresses” who were stillvery much young. It’s too bad they didn’t reach their peak in 2012 or so because there are so many more films these days that work better for older actresses compared to 2007-2011. I would have loved to see Preity as the poet in ADHM. Sorry for the off topic comments btw, i know that can be annoying to some

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          • Oh right, good point about the comment. I’m going to jump over to Saturday Small Talk and restart this discussion there.

            On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 2:51 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Do it anyway! She’s harmless, and the plotting is so careful and clever.

      On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 10:59 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. In the 2000s all of the new outsider actresses they were getting were models so maybe that’s why they felt more glamorous in comparison to the outsider actresses who aren’t exactly from a modeling background (though I think that Taapsee was actually a model)?

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