After a long time, mainstream Bollywood has started bringing out movies that talk about the highly disputed issue of alternative sexuality. There have been many movies featuring this issue, but the films rarely got recognition in the industry. From the first gay film, Bomgay to the National Award-winning film, Margarita with a Straw, leading stars of Bollywood have contributed in raising a voice against the discriminatory portrayal of the sexes as well as sexuality in the industry.
One such recent and commendable attempt is Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar starrer film Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan by Hitesh Kewalya. The movie is a journey of two young homosexual lovers—Aman and Kartik, who are convincing Aman’s family to accept his sexuality. The tale told in a hilarious way tries to destroy the binaries and construct an idea of creating love icons for gay people. The movie was a huge success, gaining praise for the great acting, comic dialogues and an immaculate plot line for Bollywood fans.
The creators of the movie have done an in-depth research of the lives of gay people—not that it is any different, but the hardships and the methods used to cope with them are very relevant. The movie is like a week worth of LGBTQ studies lectures combined together in two and a half hours. The references, the comebacks and the dialogues are superbly and carefully written, avoiding most of the stereotyping elements that are naturally found in the Bollywood movies.
The movie begins with the narrative of two men running on the Allahabad station platform amidst the colorful crowd of thousands of baraatis boarding trains. The scene freezes, with the end of each of the characters’ narrative of their life as defined in a single word—bhaagna (running away from), at the most romantic scene of the century—the Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge train boarding scene of couple. Many such romantic scenes and plots from Bollywood is used in the movie to let the audience understand that there are no gender, sexes and colors when it comes to love.
Many people may not know, but Amitabh Bachchan is quite famous in the queer community, especially the gay community. AB senior’s movies marked the beginning of the two-hero films. Right from Sholay, there are multiple movies with many different actors starring with Amitabh as his closest friend. Sholay is the most iconic of such films and the song Yeh Dosti even has a scene were the two guys chose each other over a female. And thus, Kartik uses this song for his nuptials. Also, the retro times had very revolting characters, who would struggle against their family to make their love successful.
The homosexual relationship between Aman and Kartik is very romantically portrayed with the kissing in the train to holding each other’s back no matter what. At times, people may try to assign the binaries of being feminine and masculine to any of the two. But again the stereotyping is kept at bay with both characters displaying both the traits in their action.
For instance, Kartik may seem feminine with his sweet voice and dramas, but the weaker one emotionally is Aman as he is unable to see Kartik in pain; vice versa, Kartik emerges masculine when he takes blows from Aman’s dad for being gay.
Gay bashing is common in most parts of the world. Imagine people being beaten and killed for loving people of the same sex. Where is humanity hiding?
Coming to the marriage part (which is referred to in the title itself), the movie tries to create a ground for homosexual marriages. After the epic verdict of the Supreme Court in September 2018, the queer community has the permission to love people of their same sex, but India has a long way to go in accepting queer marriages.
Thus, the movie does not show the marriage of Kartik and Aman. There is a scene in the last part of the movie, but before they could finish the seven vows ritual, they are interrupted—first by Aman’s father, and then by the police. That also brings us to the question of Goggle’s wedding. Why did it play a significant part in the whole set up?
The wedding made Kartik realize that he would love to have Aman as his husband and Aman’s family as his in-laws. It also made Aman understand that marriage is not just something that he can manage, but a relationship that demands respect and support which only Kartik could provide him. For the character of the excited bride to be, Goggle, marriage has a very different meaning. It is supposed to provide her with everything—attention, importance, love and respect, which is what she has been denied all her life. Even at her own wedding, she is the most neglected person.
All the female characters in the movie, like any Indian family, appear to be involved only in bickering for household chores. But still they manage to come out stronger than their male counterparts. For instance, Goggle never blames anyone else for her fate, even when it is her own uncle, because of whom she lost her eye. In the end, she gets married to herself, as nobody is worth her charms.
Lastly, the symbol of kali gobi (black cauliflower) is very important. It is used to portray the hegemonic and the orthodox thinking of people. What better than cauliflower to symbolize brains of homophobic people!
Kali gobi is the homophobia that resides in people’s heart, and they think they are right in enforcing it on others. But in the end, it is a rotten vegetable, not safe to be eaten. It has to be burnt from our systems with acceptance. Nobody can control how and what others may feel, and it is no one’s business to control who should be loved by whom.
There are some parts in the movie which may not be very agreeable. The pain and emotions are not purged, but kept light by the comic reliefs. It may not have justified or even come close to what lakhs of people are suffering every day. But the step they took was a brave one. The movie may not be perfect, but has now set a milestone in queer cinema with its intimate and bold scenes and dialogues.