Director: Luv Ranjan | Year: 2015
It’s almost 2 am and I am just back from seeing Pyaar Ka Punchanama 2. I have made myself a large cup of black coffee in the new coffee maker as I said to myself I must keep myself awake to put down my thoughts on the film before the excitement wears off. (I must add listening to Rahman’s absolutely rocking ‘ Wat Wat Wat’ in the car on the way has added to my excitement.)
Well to put it quite simply I think it’s a great film. By now everyone knows it has some very funny one liners, many well-staged gags and one stand-out monologue delivered by a very impressive Kartik Aaryan. They are all so good I will not even try to quote them. Go buy a ticket if you want a real good laugh. But if the film was just about good one-liners and great gags, I won’t be staying awake at 2 trying to articulate what it is about the film I like so much.
And I think I have it – it is one of the best take on contemporary man-woman relationship I have seen in Hindi films …beating the likes of Dil Chahta Hai, Saat Khoon Maaf and Cocktail. It doesn’t try to be a love story and thank god for that. It is much more real. I remember when I first learnt about social realism in novels when a friend in college introduced me to the works of Balzac. My eyes just opened wide. One could actually write about relationships with so much truth! And what does the social realism tradition entail when dealing with man-woman relationship? That you talk about sex, and money…which are more crucial to any relationship than moony filmy romances care to admit. You get to see very little of these two crucial elements in films dealing with relationships, especially money, even in Hollywood films, let alone Bollywood films. But not so in Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2.
Okay, at this point I should tell you that the films is about three friends trying to build relationships with their three girl-friends who are manipulating them to their breaking points in their own ways. And one of them makes the pretense of believing in the principle of going Dutch only to ensure that he, who earns way more than his other two, doesn’t end up picking up the tabs for his two friends. She wangle her way into letting her boyfriend give her an add-on credit card. And she doesn’t want him to leave his soul-sapping job under an intolerable boss to start his own business because it will affect her cushy life style that she is enjoying now. The second girl thinks nothing of inviting her ‘best friend’ to live with her when her two female room-mates have gone home for a few days. She thinks nothing of sleeping on the same bed with this ‘best friend’, and later, texting messages to him while actually lying next to her actual boyfriend in bed. The most heartrending case of manipulation is saved for the third friend played so convincingly by Sunny Singh. He plays along being just her friend while meeting her parents because, as she says, she needs the right time to tell her father about him since he is very old-fashioned. So he goes on doing all kinds of errands for the family – from repairing the printer to changing light bulbs to preparing her Shaadi.dot.com profile – only to be told by her one day that she was getting married to Pankaj who has a job in the US. As Kartik Aaryan explains in his monologue, she would say no to all rishtas until the parents find her a groom who is actually doing better than him. What the monologue doesn’t explain is why she comes back to him after he has accepted her marriage to Pankaj, offering herself for sex. Simple. She wants him as a stand-by. Having invested so much in the relationship she doesn’t want it to be a no-returns deal. She refuses him sex in their holiday in Pattaya, saying she knows it is a foreign holiday and all that but there are limits she doesn’t want to cross before marriage. But now that Pankaj is in her bag she wants to make sure our Chauka ( Sunny Singh) remembers her as someone special. Who knows when he can come handy? Maybe someday Chauka will end up doing better in life than Pankaj. Or maybe Pankaj will turn out to be total arsehole after marriage. Then she can always try and come back. We know of such cases. The girlfriend of a struggling actor gets married to a businessman. Once the actor makes it big in Bollywood she leaves her husband and returns to the welcoming, pining arms of her first love. We know of women who tie their husband down to their life as a money-making machine to finance their cushy lifestyles. We know of women who play the game of platonic relationship denying their husband the emotional intimacy their husbands deserve and desire. So, as character studies of the three meant-to-be-hated women characters the film is spot on.
But I won’t call the film misogynist as some critics have done. Yes, the three women characters have been shown as mean and manipulative. But they have been shown to be full of feminine charms – the kind of charms any young man, who hasn’t learnt from experience, will fall for. Especially if they are the kind of mama’s boys that we see them as at the end – as they call up their moms like cry-babies that they are. That last scene shows how sensitive the director is in not showing up their getting free of their girl-friends as some kinds of a macho victory. No. These guys are mama’s boys, far from macho, and were punching above their weight in trying to date these sexy, street-smart girls.
Does the film imply that all women are this manipulative and mean? No. But these three are. And they are for real. Are all boys so goody-goody. But these three guys are. And they are for real. Aren’t there as many cases of manipulative, insensitive men treating their girlfriends and wives as bad? Actually there are probably more such cases and the men perhaps treat the women even worse. But that’s for other films to deal with. I don’t believe in this balancing business – you know if you show some women as bad you must show some women as good too. Otherwise you are being biased and motivated. Bullshit. This film is not about all the women in the world. It is about these three particular women and as long as they are true, and real, we should be grateful.
Take a bow Luv Ranjan. And I hope you do not play safe and to the gallery, but pick up the dare to present some kaminey men being shown their place by some spunky women. You have the talent, I hope you have the courage too.
- Genre Bender
- Bond Rebooted