The Hindi film, streaming on ZEE5, fails to evoke any laughs and has hardly anything novel to offer…
These are still the mid-90s where pagers are the new fad, the dot com wave hasn’t yet begun and social media is a term unheard of. Suraj Singh Dhillon, a youngster in a Punjabi family that makes a living out of dairy products, can’t wait to get married to a girl chosen by his parents. On the cusp of Suraj’s marriage, Madhu Mangal Rane, a marriage detective hired by his prospective in-laws, plays the party pooper and gives a reason for the alliance to be called off. Suraj is in a mood to avenge the insult but ironically ends up falling in love with Mangal’s sister Tulsi. Suraj and Mangal are caught at the crossroads. Is Suraj and Tulsi’s romance destined to be doomed?
Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari is a film set in the 90s and just like its backdrop, the storyteller Abhishek Sharma seems to have been caught in a time warp. This is the umpteenth Bollywood comedy that revolves around a wedding and despite a novel premise and a solid conflict, the film fails to engage and leaves you with a bitter aftertaste. This is a romantic comedy where romance is its primary weakling and the tone-deaf comedy hurts your senses. The film is reduced to a sour tale of one-upmanship and has very minimal surprise value on offer.
The efforts to portray the mid 90s are rather uninspiring and lazy – you don’t get transported to an era that probably relied on interpersonal connect over technology to forge bonds. The quirky character of a marriage detective to verify a groom’s credentials is a mere paper tiger. Beyond the initial intrigue, there’s no personality to the part saddled with a joke of a backstory. The emotional connect is little, the characters remain unfunny caricatures borrowed from every second Bollywood comedy based on a wedding. The storytelling lacks any vigour or enthusiasm and there’s absolutely no takeaway element – even discounting the fact that the plot hinges on a heap of cinematic liberties.
It’s high time Bollywood relooks at its portrayal of Punjabis and spares the audiences from the stereotypes imposed on them since time immemorial. If not for the casting, it’s hard to say if this stale outing would have even been watchable. The two (unbearable) party songs and the obligatory breakup number don’t do much to serve as a pleasant distraction either. In times when the motivation to head to the theatres is little and the viewing options are manifold on the digital medium, the mainstream industry needs to pull its socks up before it puts its content behind a paywall.
Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari needed a tighter, smarter script and weightier characters to complement its talented lineup. It feels like Bollywood is lost in an incestuous cocoon; the dearth of creativity is a reality they need to come to terms with. Diljit Dosanjh’s redundancy is reflecting in his script choices, and there’s little distinction or variety among his recent performances. Sana Fatima Sheikh is promising while she lasts though the same can’t be told about the films she’s being offered. Manoj Bajpayee makes a good meal out of an under-written character that needed more spunk to come alive. The supporting cast is stellar while they last – with the likes of Vijay Raaz, Manoj Pahwa, Annu Kapoor and Supriya Pilgaonkar – though the roles aren’t exactly memorable.