Synopsis – A wedding detective who in his jest to perform background checks on prospective grooms, makes an enemy of eager to marry youngster.
My Take – Right off the hook there are two distinct factors which makes this latest comedy film special. First, it marks the first Hindi theatrical release in India following nine months of lock down initiative taken to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With government of India permitting the reopening of cinema halls with 50% occupancy, this film directed by Abhishek Sharma and backed by Zee Studios comes as a sign of relief and joy not only for the Hindi film industry on a whole, but also for cinema starving audience.
Second, being set in 1995, the film takes us back to a time where there is no mobile phone in sight with PCOs and pagers acting as the main source of communication. The whole production from sets, props and costumes act as a perfect nostalgic trip, as the era is captured perfectly here.
While the film on its own isn’t what one would call path breaking, director Abhishek Sharma, who has a penchant for directing light-hearted films like Tere Bin Laden, The Shaukeens, Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive and The Zoya Factor with the excellent John Abraham starrer Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran being an exception, is completely in his zone here, and delivers on everything the previews of the film promised, a humorous rom com.
Barring a few glitches, the film offers an enjoyable take on situational comedy, with some excellent performances coming in from the film’s leads, Diljit Dosanjh and Manoj Bajpayee, two masters of comic timing, making the whole affair a perfect stress-buster for the weekend.
Set in 1995, the story follows Suraj Singh Dhillon (Diljit Dosanjh), a not-too-bright young man belonging to a decent family who over the years have built a brand of themselves selling milk based products. Now come of age, Suraj is eager to get married and settle down, and even makes a video with the help of his friend Sukhi (Manuj Sharma) to impress prospective brides. With his prospects dying quickly due to his vanilla personality, on advice, Sukhi decides to model himself on 90s Hindi actors right before walking into possible alliance meeting.
Unfortunately for him, and the embarrassment of his parents (Seema Pahwa and Manoj Pahwa), he was caught unaware on camera on the one day he decided to behave badly. With his and his family’s reputation down the drain, Suraj is determined to exact revenge on the creator of his troubles – Madhu Mangal Rane (Manoj Bajpayee), a marriage detective, whose only motto is to ensure that the wrong kind of man isn’t wedded to the right kind of woman. However, Suraj finds himself in a dilemma when he falls in love with Madhu’s sister Turshi Rane (Fatima Sana Shaikh), leading to an out and out war from both sides.
The film has a premise that lends itself for good situational comedy, and director Abhishek Sharma along with writers Rohan Shankar and Shokhi Banerjee have done a decent job at bringing in laughter at crucial times. They have also paid a tribute to DDLJ in their own style and it’s hilarious! The affable comedy, which is sometimes broad and sometimes creaky, moves along on the strength of its characters. The film does not have any larger issue in hand. It is paced fine and keeps you invested with the characters and their emotions.
There’s certain nostalgia of the 90s, that’s refreshing. However these are the points that draw this film back as well because you see on screen the potential of something great, but that greatness is never achieved, making you feel a bit disappointed in the end. What could have been a great comic ride, turns into a passable entertainer. Nevertheless, it is enjoyable for the greater part.
The film also surprisingly hits at unexpected political element. Set in a time when the ‘outsider’ debate was on the rise in Mumbai and one would have thought the Maharashtrian girl falling in love with a Sikh boy would have caste divide playing the villain but it’s not so. Thankfully, director Abhishek Sharma only hints at the political upheavals happening in the city but doesn’t dwell on it too deeply. Like Turshi asks Suraj whether he knows Marathi or not and is shocked when she comes to know he doesn’t have a command on it despite being born in Mumbai. But apart from these small nudges, the film hardly discusses the upcoming change in political scene.
Regardless of everything it’s the performances that keep the film afloat. As always, Manoj Bajpayee is exceptional! He gets to try out different get-ups as he snoops about and then channels a nasty streak as he dictates his sister’s future. The way he changes his accent and his behavior with each disguise will leaves one awestruck. Even when he is playing Mangal, your eyes are only on him. Diljit Dosanjh is perfect for the role and performs his amiably goofs hilariously.
Fatima Sana Shaikh looks gorgeous in the film and plays her part quite well. In supporting roles, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Annu Kapoor, Manoj Pahwa, Seema Pahwa and Manuj Sharma are also excellent. Neha Pendse, Abhishek Banerjee and Vijay Raaz appear in cameos but manage to leave a mark. On the whole, ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’ is a decent light-hearted comedy that brings out the laughs.
Directed – Abhishek Sharma
Rated – PG
Run Time – 139 minutes