Shubh Mangal Saavdhan starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar released on September 1. Just a week post that, we are getting ready to see Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Shreyas Talpade’s Poster Boys on September 8.
Apart from releasing in the first weeks of September, there are more aspects that are common to these two features. For one, both the films are comic capers and belong to the same genre. Second, the films talk about two important issues. Third, both these issues are taboo topics in Indian society but ones that need to be discussed to generate awareness and bust myths around them.
While Shubh Mangal Saavdhan promised to make erectile dysfunction a drawing room discussion, Poster Boys focuses on vasectomy. The trailers of both the films showed immense promise. Promise – of Indian cinema that’s changing; of audience that’s maturing; of filmmakers who are getting bolder with the subject they chose; of actors who are refusing to shy away from experimenting, even if it meant challenging their ‘image’.
And yet, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan failed to achieve what it set out to do. Here are a few ways how Ayushmann – Bhumi’s film on an important subject failed to hit home a point. ALSO READ: Shubh Mangal Saavdhan Box Office Collection Day 5: Ayushmann Khurrana – Bhumi Pednekar’s Film Sees A Rise In Numbers, Bags Rs 19.84 Crore
1) Erectile dysfunction is an age related problem. It hits men who are over 50. In the film, Ayushmann’s character Mudit Sharma is shown to be experiencing the issue. There was no explanation as to how he, in his 30s, is facing a disorder which can hamper his love and sex life.
2) Once there is a problem, there needs to be some attempt at finding a solution. Mudit does try too and engages in quacks to get things up and kicking. However, he reaches no concrete solution. The film makes a very feeble attempt at trying to tell the audience that erectile dysfunction is common, why it is common and how should one live with it or about ways to try to get rid of it.
3) A comedy allows you to talk about the most serious topics in a light-hearted manner. But reducing a subject as serious as erectile dysfunction (which is a growing lifestyle related problem with the urban youth) to a mere joke so that the entire family can watch a film based on it together is really a new low in creativity! There is a difference between playing things down and dumbing things down and unfortunately, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan ends up doing the latter.
4) So, Mudit has trouble getting things up when he gets intimate with Sugandha (Bhumi). The couple, though from a small town, is ‘modern’ and ‘liberal’ enough about having sex before marriage without any guilt, but they cannot discuss about this problem with each other without awkwardness seeping in. Funnily, even after Sugandha wins the guessing game about ‘what the F*** is really wrong with Mudit’ the two are still unable to spell the problem and keep calling it ‘gent’s problem’.
5) Epic fail comes in the form of Mudit and Sugandha’s marriage. The entire khandaan (on both sides), friends, neighborhood et al know about Mudit’s erectile dysfunction. He has been unable to solve it and yet the sati, savitri Sugandha (also the ‘so desperate that even attention will make me climax’ Sugandha) agrees to marry him. There is no significance given to address the issue that young couples are facing these days. Suggesting a possible way to deal with such a situation and/or find solutions to it – for an individual or for a couple – has been happily ignored!
PS: I must have missed a few more slip-offs. But the ones mentioned above are enough to make me worried about what is in store in Poster Boys, which brings into focus vasectomy – a permanent birth control measure performed on men.
Despite being a much simpler, shorter and less painful method of permanent birth control for men, when compared to a woman, vasectomy in India is marred by misapprehensions, many of which are bizarre. Undergoing vasectomy will make a man lose his strength and virility; that it will leave a man incapable to earn a living; lack of social acceptance as compared to female sterilization; lack of awareness – are just a few aspects that ail the success of vasectomy in the country. ALSO READ: Bobby Deol: If I Were To Start A Band, I Would Call It The Croakers
As per government data, a little over 37% married women (age 15 – 49) prefer sterilization to prevent pregnancy as opposed to 1% that relied on their partner’s vasectomy for birth control.
Interestingly, Babita Bisht – coordinator of more than 200 ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers in Delhi, feels that a foolproof way to convince people to undergo vasectomy will be to, “give an example of a person in the community who has undergone the procedure and is doing absolutely fine.”
Perhaps, that’s what Poster Boys can try to and will unfailingly achieve. Here’s hoping that the film will address the many myths and taboos around vasectomy; set straight the misplaced definition of manhood and succeed in all those places where Shubh Mangal Saavdhan failed.