In a world where Bollywood movies till date have all been filled with the stereotypes pertaining to the people in the LGBTQ+ community, the very fact that the movie Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhaan exist is something to applaud over. From the very beginning till the end, it portrayed the couple that was Ayushman Khurana and Jeetendra Kumar (as Aman and Kartik respectively) with the same lens as a straight couple is portrayed. In fact, the movie was even able to recreate the iconic scene of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge with such ease that it was able to bring the nostalgia as well as was able to show the triumphant growth of the society where the LGBTQ+ community is accepted the same way as everyone else. As a mainstream movie, and the first one to do it, even if not perfect, it did a splendid job and the director Hitesh Kewalya did give justice to the movie’s existence.
The point of establishment for the movie was that there is little to no difference between a same sex couple and a straight one, with the only difference being the gender. From very early on in the movie, where we see Aman riding on the motorcycle behind Kartik, hugging him from behind, waits on a traffic light where there is another couple (a straight one) with the girl hugging her partner from behind. This scene sets the concept straight, showing that even the basic interactions of love, like public displays of affection are the same for both the kinds, and should be accepted as such.
Ayushman, as Kartik, plays the extravagant character out of the two where we see his passionate side try to convince Aman’s family to accept him as who he is, and with the blessings of his family, be in a relationship with him. Aman on the other hand, is a much more nuanced character with conflicting emotions, but a charm that could make everyone in the audience easily root for him. Gajraj Rao, as Aman’s father and Manu Rishi Chaddha as Aman’s uncle both are terrific in their roles and shows, in the right way, how the generation previous to ours have a difficulty in understanding these concepts, and thus, having learnt the exact opposite of the same since childhood, their minds are stuck in this conflict of whether to accept this as normal, or not.
With the amazing concept and apt acting out of the way, the only thing that held the movie back, was the fact that it was trying to be two things at the same time – A movie tackling a deep-rooted social issue and an entertaining family rom-com. And with that, its shortcomings were pretty apparent. Never could we see deeper vulnerabilities in the characters, since every serious scene, which could have been a great set to dive deeper into the nuances of sexuality and the issues the LGBTQ+ community have faced till now were interrupted by some or the other humour inducing dialogues. The emotions, thus, never get the time or space to breathe and before the audience could think deeper about what was being said, the movie tried to inject laughter into those scenes. In order to make the subject palpable to a larger audience, the movie had to reduce a lot of weight from the subject matter at hand.
The character arcs didn’t have enough depth, the supporting characters were basically a fodder for humour, and those jokes just felt forced instead of being organic. But, in all, I’d still forgive the movie for those critical issues for the win that the movie came with, being a window for LGBTQ+ representation in Cinema. Having the film ladle out the emotional aspects and struggles of people from the LGBTQ+ community would be too much of an “in your face” approach to a sensitive topic. The film is a gateway to much more serious films, and people might be interested in looking deeper into topics like this if they initially gravitate towards the comedy. And for that, the movie, served its purpose the right way.