February 23, 2018
Kartik Aaryan, Nushrat Bharucha, Sunny Singh, Ishita Raj
Sonu and Titu have been buddies since nursery and almost brothers. The motherless Sonu even addresses Titu’s mother as “Mummy”.
Titu is the pretty and gullible one, an innocent darling who keeps falling for manipulative, controlling women. Street-smart, worldly-wise Sonu sees these women for the witches that they are and has been saving Titu from them for years.
Enter: Sweety Sharma as sweet Titu’s potential biwi. Sonu is immediately suspicious of her, as he is of any new woman in his Titu’s life, and as he probably will be of any man too, you realise as the film rolls on. But Sweety comes up trumps in every test Sonu throws at her until his opposition to his best friend’s wedding becomes: she is too good to be true, so she must be faking her goodness.
Is Sonu right in doubting Sweety? Or will Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety prove that in a world filled with godawful, devious women and their male victims, there are some decent women after all?
If you have watched writer-director Luv Ranjan’s earlier works, the answers to these questions are so obvious that you may as well fast forward to the final scenes. Ranjan’s calling card so far remains the sleeper hit Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011), which was about three hapless, innocent young men embroiled in abusive relationships each with an all-out evil, calculating she-devil. He briefly flirted with sensitivity in Akaash Vani (2013), a film on marital rape, but returned with a second woman-hate-fest in the form of Pyaar Ka Punchnama (PKP) 2 in 2015, a near carbon copy of the first with a marginally different cast.
Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety recycles the cast, clichés and convictions of both the PKP films.
Kartik Aaryan and Nushrat Bharucha who play Sonu and Sweety here, have been fixtures in all Ranjan’s films so far. Bharucha still looks like she might have the potential to do something different, but Aaryan, who showed some spark in the first PKP, is tiresome and hammy now.
Sunny Singh, who was in PKP2, delivers an off-the-mark performance here as a duh-ish Titu, although the director’s intent seems to be to portray him as naïve and golden-hearted, not dumb.
Sonnalli Seygall and Ishita Raj played horrid girlfriends in the two PKPs. Seygall has a few seconds long cameo here as one of Sonu’s female human playthings, while Raj has a longer role as – wait for it, c’moooonnnn, try guessing – a horrid girlfriend. Raj is the only breath of fresh air of the lot.
The opening scene of Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety features Sonu lecturing a man with a monologue of a length that is designed to remind us of the extended monologues assigned to Kartik Aaryan’s characters in PKP 1&2. Thankfully this one is much shorter, but it serves as a teaser to the formulaic story that follows. The inside joke is also amusingly self-important considering that while this actor and director have enjoyed some success, they have yet to enter the mainstream consciousness.
From that opener, the film cuts to Titu weeping over a girlfriend who has accused him of invading her privacy because he accessed her Tinder account. Sonu goes into a detailed description of the scheming harridan that she is. We are only minutes into the film, and already a cloying repetitiveness has set in.
Cut to the opening credits accompanied by a song called Bom diggy diggy, during which Sonu and Titu drum the bums of dozens of women who shake those butts in vibratory movements aimed at the camera, each other and the boys.
What comes next is from the same old mould, just much louder, more garish and even more open about its contempt for women than Ranjan’s earlier films.
When Titu asks his parents to find him a bride, Sonu asks why he needs to marry when he could just change his cook, they have already bought a new washing machine and dishwasher, and alternative arrangements could well be made for sex. I guess you have to grant it to Ranjan for frankly acknowledging what most Indians do not: that these motivations are indeed what prompt many men to marry.
The lack of pretence continues all the way up to the song playing along with the end credits, when Sonu, Titu and Sweety dance together to the Yo Yo Honey Singh track Chhote chhote peg. “Itne der se baitha bas mind main tera padd ra hoon (all this while I have been reading your mind),” a male voice sings as Sonu stares pointedly and reductively at Sweety’s almost bare breasts, because hey, that is where a woman’s mind resides, I guess?
While the director makes no bones about his desire to cash in on the deep-seated resentment towards women among a section of the film-viewing audience, I doubt whether the homosexual undertones of the Sonu-Titu bhaichaara were planned. Sonu’s lurving gaze could be read either way, but what else is one to make of the song Tera yaar hoon main playing as a moony Sonu watches Titu with Sweety?
Tu jo roottha,
Toh kaun hasega.
Tu jo chhoota,
Toh kaun rahega.
Tu chup hai toh,
Yeh darr lagta hai.
Ab kaun kahega.
Tu hi wajah tere bina,
Bewajah bekaar hoon main.
Tera yaar hoon main.
Tera yaar hoon main.
If you are displeased,
Who will laugh?
If I lose you,
Who will I have?
When you fall silent, I get afraid,
Now who will call me his?
You are my reason,
Without you I am nothing.
I am your friend.
I am your friend.
Commercial Hindi cinema sorely needs a homosexual romance, but not an unwitting one. The impression of a gaymance in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety comes not from a well-meaning director’s deliberate intent. It is a product of poor acting and writing.
It is possible that Ranjan may make a better film some day, once he recovers from his raging hatred towards women and realises that in giving vent to that feeling, he is also repeatedly portraying men as manipulable fools and cowards. The unfortunate part of Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety is that in small patches – especially in a scene in which Ishita Raj’s character Pihu is re-acquainted with Titu’s family – it shows a penchant for humour and good timing. Mostly though, this is a tacky, trite recycling of a recipe that has brought box-office success twice to this director. Why bother writing an original script when a photocopy machine is at hand?
Rating (out of five stars): 1/2
CBFC Rating (India):
140 minutes 23 seconds
This review was also published on Firstpost:
Poster courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/sonutitusweety/