Aman’s stubborn father, Shankar Tripathi, and his crackpot antics soon take centre stage. Played by the masterful Gajraj Rao, Tripathi’s act of throwing up at the sight of his son lip-locked with another man establishes his egregious hostility. The patriarch tries to school the grown men with sticks but also has subtle meltdowns in front of his wife. His desolate sense of humour, a belligerent dance off with Kartik and visible chagrin throughout do well to keep the laughs occurring naturally. It’s his wife, Sunaina Tripathi, played by Neena Gupta, who holds his complicated intractability in check. She is poignantly funny at being a mother torn between her son and his father. She is the balancing character of the film.
Khurrana is a defiant lover but no cliché of the “gay man”, which is the best part about his character. But he does little to separate Kartik from his own persona. His acting and his cinema is extremely likable, but it is becoming a bit of a formula.
What counters his soft heroics in the film is Kumar’s small-town, coy act as Aman. His character is an acute deviation from his comic sketches in “The Viral Fever” that shot him to fame. Here, he is a fresh face, a refreshing act and thoroughly likable.
At two hours the film feels a bit of a stretch in the second half. Kewalya, though, refrains from overdramatising a sensitive subject but is unable to quite finish the film smoothly. He interjects it with sub plots, which take the attention away from the lead couple and their struggles. He rightly relies on his able side cast but also gives them contrived punchlines in the hope that the comic drama reaches its crescendo.
Bollywood is slowing building on it, but I hope the next film that takes on prejudices against gay people tones down the “Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan is a crackling comedy in parts and an eager but brave take on choice more than sexual preferences. It’s a placebo that will give awkward, confused parents something to laugh about and ponder over.