Featuring Manoj Bajpayee alongside Diljit Dosanjh and Fatima Sana Shaikh, this comedy has enough laughs to merit a watch
There is a lot to admire in Manoj Bajpayee, but to think that a fine actor like him has rarely featured in a comedy is quite confusing, upsetting even. If not for Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, acknowledgement for Bajpayee’s comic timing may have gone undocumented.
Bajpayee strikes gold as ‘Detective’ Madhu Mangal Rane, a man who is unequivocal about his life’s biggest mission: preventing girls from marrying grooms he deems are cultural misfits.
To accomplish his stated objective, he assumes unmistakably funny disguises and catches the ‘culprits’ red-handed. It so happens that one of the assignments he takes on is Suraj Singh Dhillon (an effervescent Diljit Dosanjh), a half-wit type of character whose parents are looking to marry him off.
A comic turn of events leads to Suraj being branded an amoral man and the potential alliance being called off. Annoyed, Suraj sets out to make the man behind the drama pay for his act, but only manages to run into Rane’s sister, Tulsi (Fatima), who he falls for. What follows is a game of one-upping, where Suraj and Mangal attempt to pull the rug off each others’ feet.
Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari
- Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Diljit Dosanjh, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Annu Kapoor, Seema Pahwa, Manoj Pahwa, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Neha Pendse
- Director: Abhishek Sharma
- Storyline: Set in the ‘90s, a wedding detective and a man, whose wedding the former spoiled, lock horns over a fledgling romance.
The film is set in the mid ‘90s, which, perhaps, allows The Zoya Factor filmmaker Abhishek Sharma to get away with a lot of tropes about ‘culture’, ‘family’ and ‘values’ that are largely absent in present day Bollywood films. The distinct Marathi flavour, courtesy the Rane family, feels authentic and is a result of the touch of class extended to these characters by the cast (noticeably, Annu Kapoor and Bajpayee).
Never once does Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari come across as a film confused about its timelines. To still be able to make the audience feel invested in watching something that they are clearly aware belongs in a different generation and is not a fantasy, requires deft handling by a filmmaker.
Justifying its position as a throwback film, Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari uses scenes considered all-time hallmarks of a ‘90s Bollywood film throughout.
Whilst using a decades-old practice (wedding detectives) that is now not so much in vogue as the core of a film in 2020, Abhishek Sharma manages to craft something that is mildly pleasant but more entertaining than expected.
Watch out for Bajpayee and his modulations as the cunning Madhu Mangal Rane. The Pahwas are perhaps what Diljit Dosanjh needed to pair with the effervescence (which at times he, predictably, goes overboard with) he brings to the roles he plays in films.
What is strange, however, is that the film’s producers are opting for a theatrical release, because for everything that is entertaining about it, Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari is not a theatrical film.
Perhaps, it is time that film industries in India woke up to the fact that COVID-19 has brought in the acceptance among audiences on the type of films that deserves to be watched on the big screen. The ones that bet on witty dialogues and entertainingly sketched scenes for success can very well stand the test of time even if they are viewed on a mobile screen.
Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari will release on November 15 in theatres