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What The ‘Hunterrr’ Catches: The Sexual Desires Of An ‘Everyday-Man’

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By Ishan Marvel:

Sex is a physical need, like “going potty,” thus explains Mandar Ponkshe, or the titular hunter, in the beginning of the film. The beauty of Hunterrr lies in its simplicity. It does not pass overt judgment, but simply presents a glimpse into the psyche of a certain type of man. A vaasu, as the film labels him – a player, a chodu, or “a horny bastard”. Usually, such a character is either portrayed as a slick and witty, good-looking, good-natured jerk in the case of a comedy (Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother), or a tragic, hapless, cold, and often, deranged person, as in Shame (2011) or American Psycho (2000). Mandar is none of the above. He is a regular bloke, be it his looks, his demeanour, bank-balance, or his surroundings – and this is the film’s biggest strength. By refraining from explicit commentary, excessive psychological trawling, and steering away from traditional macho motifs, Hunterrr presents a relatable and entirely human protagonist; and Gulshan Devaiya plays the part perfectly.

Hunterrr review

The script is tight and engaging – intelligent and ridiculously entertaining in equal measure. Among other things, it is laden with delightful one-liners. For instance, when an adolescent Mandar is caught sneaking into a C-grade movie, the cop asks him, “Chota Chetan dekhne aaya tha ya Chota Chetan bada karne?” However crass it may sound, this is the sort of witticism that people actually throw about in such situations, and Hunterrr has enough of these gems peppered throughout its 141 minutes of runtime.

The editors and the director deserve a generous tip of the hat for the way they handle the narration. Since, unlike stills, the ability to convey time is essential to the video format, the way a film depicts or plays with the sense of time is a key parameter (Think Nick of Time (1995), Richard Linklater’s Before… series, Pulp Fiction, or Annie Hall to name a few). While Hunterrr doesn’t bring anything revolutionary in this regard, but the way it manages to execute what it intends is laudable. The film plays back and forth through three sub-stories: one, the flashbacks showing Mandar’s evolution as a vaasu; two, his relationship with Trupti, the one girl who ends up tugging at his heart instead of his nether regions; and lastly, the present storyline, which finally begins to sense a change in him. These temporal transitions are often heralded by shots of Mandar running, either forward or in rewind—to escape a bad situation or to enter a fresh one—which is of course also a metaphor for his life as a skirt-chaser. Like Mandar realizes towards the end, he is always running, always chasing, and for what?

Meanwhile, another well-used device captures the expectation-versus-reality disconnect. Since the general narrative scheme is that of stories within a story, often, the film fools the viewer by showing a hypothetical scenario unfold before the actual one (akin to the traditional ‘dream sequence’). Like when Mandar finally comes clean about his vaasugiri to Trupti. Before the actual reaction, a hilarious sequence plays out where Trupti gets all excited over Mandar’s confession and suggests an open marriage. This is just one of the many instances when the film plays with the audience in such manner; and the thing is, it’s done so convincingly that you fall for it every time.

Major credit goes to the cast of course – from the lead actors to the cameos. Brilliant, understated portrayals, complemented by natural dialogues, situations, and issues. As Jyotsana, one of Mandar’s married lovers ,quips, Tu toh bhaag gaya, main kahaan bhaagegi? Thus, they part with a final hug, a wistful smile on her face; leaving you to reflect on the nature of impulse and the social implications. Moreover, all the characters look real—the sort of people you see around your neighbourhood or on the streets. Special mention to the child actors who manage to convey the awkwardness, insecurities, and excitement associated with sex and attraction during adolescence.

It is encouraging to think, then, that the ‘adult-comedy’ genre in mainstream Bollywood might finally be coming of age, like Mandar Ponkshe. After all, the hideous puns and abysmal sleaze that one endured (or enjoyed) in the name of comedy in films like Masti, No Entry, and Kya Kool Hain Hum, it’s nice to see one that doesn’t entirely resort to humour of the LCD variety (Remember Anubhav (1986)?). This is not to say that Hunterrr lacks depth or intensity. Like the climactic scene, which owes much to the superb chemistry between the lead pair, or when Mandar’s pissing-all-the-time-stud-cousin passed away, followed by a nostalgic ode to boyhood in the form of Bachpan – a tearjerker sung by Amit Trivedi and penned by Swanand Kirkire, are definitely some of the highlights of the film.

Then, in conclusion, a note on vaasugiri: Everyone has a vaasu inside him (or her). There is nothing wrong about it to begin with. We, as mammals endowed with sexuality, are programmed to feel attracted to each other. It is a natural act, a physical need, as Mandar pleads. However, over the centuries, we have made it into something perverse, something that needs to be hushed about, thanks to all the walls that we have erected between ourselves, and the way we have complicated everything (like with dating conventions, the concept of honour and disgrace, and so forth). We denatured our sexuality, took it out of context, overanalyzed and overthought it, and gradually dressed it into something marketable, obsessive, and shameful. Ironically, it is such repression—and on the flipside, the paradoxical valorisation of the macho/playboy attitude—that makes an ‘everyday-man’ like Mandar into an inveterate, compulsive, and helpless vaasu.

Watch Hunterrr for a peek into the mind of such a person, or for a bit of nostalgia, or simply for a few laughs. It’s produced by Kashyap’s Phantom Films, which is like a quality certificate on its own. The force is strong with this one— a cult potential, if nothing else.

You must be to comment.
  1. aarkayne

    Outstanding observations. What the so called paid reviewers did not get you did and how!!

    May your tribe increase by the manifolds!

    Cheers
    A

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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