Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017) marks the debut of Tamil director R. S. Prasanna. The movie revolves around the life of a couple, Sugandha (Bhumi Pednekar) and Mudit Sharma (Ayushmann Khurrana). Initially, it is the story of two people who want to marry and spend the rest of their lives together. But what’s a love story without some trouble? Soon, a life-changing problem arrives. It is revealed that Mudit has erectile dysfunction.
Sugandha tries to be a very supportive partner and tries to find a cure for the problem. Her crusade to find a solution to save her love life and protect Mudhit from drowning in his insecurities highlights how the topic of sexuality is taboo in society. It also highlights the pressure men face in society due to patriarchal norms.
The story keeps the audience engaged from the start to the end. There is no dull moment. Humour in the story has allowed the director to keep the subject light-hearted, not sound too preachy and at the same time hit the hammer on the head when it comes to addressing the subject. As the story proceeds further – the cat is out of the bag and Mudit’s issue is out in the open. Now, his parents and in-laws are aware of the issue and try to interfere – because how can they see their dreams of being grandparents fade away, right?
Mudit’s father-in-law takes him to a vet to address his erectile dysfunction. Already embarrassed, Mudit explains his misery to the doctor, how he and Sugandha tried ‘doing it’ before and how he could not rise to the occasion. Sugandha’s father gets upset about Mudit getting physical with his daughter before marriage. Once again, we have arrived at the rules society has set about sexuality in a very subtle way.
While the first half of the film flows easily – it is in the second half where situations start getting a little more serious. Mudit’s father expresses disappointment as to how can his son not tell him about his ‘gents problem’ and is upset about how this issue even exists. At the same time, the groom’s mother is too convinced that “problem humarey bete mei nahi unki beti mei hai”.
Since men are told to ‘be tough’ they consequentially don’t know how to embrace emotions and they grow up not knowing how to navigate guilt or anger.
The filmmaker also tries to highlight how marriages in India can become more like a circus. The day before the wedding, Sugandha and Mudit decide to do it once and the scene is hilarious where the guests and parents are desperately waiting to know whether they were able to have sex or not. Mudit’s father says, “Yeh mera launda hai, iska kuch bhi nanha sa nahi ho sakta.” This dialogue can help to highlight the pressure and judgment men face when it comes to penis sizes.
The film touches many topics. The word ‘erectile dysfunction’ was not even mentioned once in the movie, which could be hard to pull off. But the actors, director and the writers of the film have done a brilliant job at conveying the story to the audience. Most importantly, the movie conveys the message of how everyone is awkward to talk about the topic of sex, before or even after marriage.
The story of Shubh Mangal Saavdhan breaks the myths around masculinity. It provokes us to think about why has society structured a ‘way of living’ for men. Men are often told to be tough and how they should bury their feelings and emotions and not ask for any help.
Mudit subverted that and set an example when he discussed his issues with his fiancée while trying to overcome his insecurities. Often in society, since men are told to ‘be tough’ they consequentially don’t know how to embrace emotions and they grow up not knowing how to navigate guilt or anger.
The take away from the entire story for the audience is to question themselves – that why do these notions of ‘manning up’ exist?
Something on similar lines happened with Mudit as well. After sharing his issues with his fiancée, the word spread like a wildfire, which leads him to act out before his marriage, to a point where he tries to break all ties with Sugandha.
The story also tries to normalize the problem of ‘erectile dysfunction’ and how the deeply embedded notion of masculinity evokes bizarre reactions from immediate family members. Mudit discussing his problems does lead to an issue and a lot of emotions to manage at the same time but it does teach him that when he came out in the open with his problem – he found support in his fiancée.
The take away from the entire story for the audience is to question themselves – that why do these notions of ‘manning up’ exist? That too when being open and honest can help a man to get support from his loved ones – just like Mudit.
What happens at the end of the movie is a discovery for you to make. But what I can tell you is that after the whole fiasco of Mudit coming out in the open and choosing to be honest with his partner about his issues, and striving to find a middle ground – he was fine. His masculinity did not evaporate. This movie is definitely a must-watch and a full-on entertainer. I would definitely give it four brownie points out of five.
Featured image used for representative purpose only. Image source: Filmfare