Ayushman Khurrana is fast becoming the everyman in Bollywood. The highly talented actor chooses very low key films that may not sex the Box Office abuzz, but definitely garner massive critical acclaims. His latest film 'Shubh Mangal Savdhan' is very much in those veins, but with an important twist.
'Shubh Mangal Savdhan' features an issue that is rather taboo and personal in the Indian culture.
Remade from the 2013 Tamil movie 'Kalyana Samayal Saadham', the Bollywood version features Ayushman Khurrana and Bhumi Padnekar in leading roles. The trailer released puts forth a very unvoncentional romantic comedy, with an even more surprising premise.
In the midst of an arranged marriage, love blossoms between a couple, only to discover that the man has a very personal and manly problem, literally represented in a scene as a limp biscuit! The entirety of the movie seems to be focused around this issue of the man's erectile dysfunction, which is odd and completely ballsy for a Bollywood movie to focus on.
'Shubh Mangal Savdhan' itself looks cheeky, funny and a very realistic story about two people falling in love, complete with the awkward conversations and clunky expressions of feelings that you see in situations that haven't been polished or edited. Khurrana and Pednekar perfected this realistic love approach in their first film together, 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha', and they're at it again.
It's interesting to see Khurrana in these unconventional movies, that are relatively non-commercial and low key when compared to less talented actors headlining tentpole films from major studios. Already in 2017 Khurrana has received critical praise for his performance in 'Meri Pyari Bindu', and has another release coming up with 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' later in the year.
Padnekar, only 3 films old, seems to have a penchant for realistic, if not movies with a social issue. Her other release of 2017 will be 'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha', which also deals with an uncomfortable truth plaguing women in parts of India. It's also pretty awesome to see the woman be the one who is sexually liberated enough to be reprimanding the man for not making a move on her earlier, while the man shies away and is flustered by it.
It's worth nothing that ailments like erectile dysfunction and other physical problems are usually considered in South Asian culture as deffeciencies of the man. The cultural stigma around something like that isn't even discussed, much less considered to be an issue that needs resolving. Especially given that even the act of sex is considered to be solely for reproductive purposes in conservative circles.
Which is why it's interesting that 'Shubh Mangal Savdhan' is set in, and about characters living in a small rural village, maybe for people in similar situations to be able to experience stories such as these. Could we possibly be seeing a shift in the kind of films that mainstream Bollywood is producing? Films with an educational premise, told in entertaining ways with a popular star cast and catchy music, aimed at an audience that needs to be made aware of these issues?
I hope so.