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Out Of The Closet

Film: Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Jitendra Kumar, Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao

Directed by: Hitesh Kewalya

Duration: 2 hrs

Rating: * * *

Some filmmakers in Bollywood have been pushing the envelope and Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhan is commendable because it wants to make a strong social point and cater to the larger audiences – to some degree it manages to do that and in its own way, that is no mean feat.

After all, homosexuality has always been ridiculed and used as ‘comedy’ in Hindi cinema but writer-director Hitesh Kewalya has delivered a film that is sensitive, sensible and makes a point while entertaining, without getting preachy.

By setting the story in a more conservative place and a family, Kewalya manages to make it more effective. When we meet the two protagonists, they are already in love and have managed to keep it a secret. Kartik (Ayushmann Khurrana) and Aman (Jitendra Kumar) hail from Delhi but most of the action takes place in Allahabad. We don’t know much about Kartik’s background except that he was always at the receiving end but Aman’s father (Gajraj Rao) and mother (Neena Gupta) throw the towel when they learn that their son is gay. His explanation about why he is the way he is, is an example of fine writing. There’s a wedding happening in the family which is the backdrop of the story while Aman and Kartik have to surmount the odds to convince the family. By adding a bunch of supporting characters, Maanvi Gagroo as the cousin sister and Manu Rishi as the uncle, the scenario is populated and it helps with the subplots.

At one point Kartik says that being gay, they have to fight every day but there is nothing tougher than fighting with the family on that count. While the dialogues and scenes are spot on, on the debit side, even though it clocks just two hours, it doesn’t get too far till the intermission. You get the point, they are gay and they want to be together, it plods for a while before shifting gears.

Of the cast, Maanvi Gagroo as the to-be bride is a hoot. Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta as the parents are spot on while Jitendra Kumar plays his part with conviction. Ayushmann Khurrana shares a certain believable chemistry with his co-actor and that helps. 

The triumph of the film lies in the fact that how smoothly it incorporates an issue like homosexuality and yet keeps the tone lightweight which surely will help to drive the point home. In a country where cinema can be considerably influential Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhan has the potential to sensitise people.

Para-abnormal Activity

Film: Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship

Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Ashutosh Rana,

Directed by: BhanuPratap Singh

Duration: 1 hr 57

Rating: * *

While watching the bhoot in Bhoot: The Haunted Ship, I wondered why all these ghosts in Bollywood and Hollywood films have crooked and twisted bodies and why is their hair always covering their face? Well, I couldn’t find a concrete answer to that except that since there is no real documentation of ghosts or their attire (or lack of it), cinema is free to throw at us whatever they think that a ghost should look like.

Bhoot is one of those horror-thriller films that fritter away by resorting to gimmicks and tricks that are older than an Egyptian mummy. You name it and you will find it in this haunted ship business, where, at one point, you even start counting sheep.

“There is no lack of superstition in this country,” a characters says – that’s probably the truest statement made in the film and unfortunately, it is films like these that also encourage superstition. Bhoot also comically merges tradition and totally pseudoscience in a rather laughable scene – a professor of all people carries an ‘instrument’ which resembles an electrician’s multi-meter which goes beep beep beep when it senses any ghost around. That makes things simpler then, he just has to mumble some mantras that will scare the wits out of the ghost.

Vicky Kaushal plays Prithvi, an officer working for the director general of shipping – he is a much-troubled man grieving the death of his wife and daughter, and no amount of pills can stop him from hallucinating about them.

It gets worse when a mega-ship gets grounded on the Juhu beach. With no crew members on board it all appears rather mysterious. Being rather adventurous, Prithvi gets caught in the paranormal activities that happen on board and then, even on land. In one scene, an example of shoddy writing, two young lovers get on board the deserted ship and play hide and seek. One knows about the traffic, pollution, lack of privacy and other issues in Mumbai but this is taking it a bit too far.

On the ship, there is a doll that is playing tricks and there’s also a woman who can crawl up the ceiling and on walls and could give Spiderman a serious inferiority complex. The rest is the usual mumbo jumbo except that the story isn’t over yet – there is a sequel in store.

Vicky Kaushal has to mostly look grim or perform physical tasks and get beaten up by the ghoul. You can almost feel his pain.

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