Pawan & Pooja review: Deepti Naval-Mahesh Manjrekar liven up this series of urban love stories

Pawan & Pooja review: This anthology of urban love stories delves deep into complicated relationships, highlighting the importance of forgiving a partner to keep it intact.
Deepti Naval and Mahesh Manjrekar in a still from Pawan & Pooja.
Deepti Naval and Mahesh Manjrekar in a still from Pawan & Pooja.
Updated on Feb 27, 2020 04:41 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Ruchi Kaushal

Pawan & Pooja
Cast:
Mahesh Manjrekar, Deepti Naval, Sharman Joshi, Gul Panag, Taaruk Raina, Natasha Bharadwaj
Creator: Siddharth P Malhotra, Shaad Ali, Ajay Bhuyan

Love is the strongest feeling in the world that gives us courage to live each day with a smile on our faces and hope in our hearts. But no love story is perfect, just like the two people who are in it. Pawan & Pooja is an anthology of three love stories, replete with mistakes, regrets but most overwhelmingly, with love.

 Watch Pawan & Pooja trailer

This MX Originals web series revolves around three couples, all with the same name and similar journey of love. Mahesh Manjrekar and Deepti Naval play happily married Kalras, both in their 60s; 40-something Sharman Joshi and Gul Panag play the Mehras, a sexually dissatisfied Bollywood couple; and YouTube prankster Taaruk Raina and social media influencer Natasha Bhardwaj play Pawan Shrivastav and Pooja Maheshwari. The two youngsters are yet to figure out if they are in love, something they will do as soon as they can free themselves from the tempting clutches of social media and this inherent millennial need to make private public.

The urban love stories seem perfect from outside but are cracked from within.

Gul Panag and Sharman Joshi play a Bollywood couple in Pawan & Pooja.
Gul Panag and Sharman Joshi play a Bollywood couple in Pawan & Pooja.

Mahesh and Deepti light the screen with their chemistry as they play an ageing couple who make a ‘no regret list’ before it is too late. While Mahesh entertains with his unapologetic attitude and childlike innocence as he goes on to tick dreams off his regret list, Deepti takes the path of self introspection to tick one major regret that may cost her everything she has. The two bring freshness to the show with their nuanced portrayal of an ageing couple wondering about a life they have led and what could have been. The storytellers really need to focus on these two seasoned performers as they effortlessly give the ruling jodi of Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao a run for their money.

The makers also show the other side of reality shows as it brings us a couple in front of the cameras. It presents a mirror to the audience that takes pleasure from peeking into the lives of others, even if fake. As they go on to crash every myth of audience votes and fake followers on social media accounts, the reality emerges to be stranger than fiction. The timing couldn’t be better as it arrives in the times of Bigg Boss leading way to another reality show, Mujhse Shaadi Karoge. But can love really happen under the prying eyes of cameras? It can be more complicated than it sounds.

Natasha Bharadwaj and Taaruk Raina in a still from Pawan & Pooja.
Natasha Bharadwaj and Taaruk Raina in a still from Pawan & Pooja.

It also offers another aspect of love as a married couple decides to swing to bring back the lost spark in their sex lives. It feels misogynistic as the makers chose to prove a woman a bigger cheater in a relationship than a man. The moment Sharman Joshi falls at his wife’s feet to beg for mercy, it makes the woman an even bigger villain.

At some point, it even addresses the difference between a leaked sex video and a MeToo allegation while almost mocking it from the view point of an offender.

The show definitely has a pro-male perspective. While it looks genuine to see a young man regretting losing his virginity to a girl who faked being in love with him; a girl asking a man to hit her because she wasn’t beaten by parents during childhood is distasteful.

Mahesh Manjrekar and Deepti Naval play an ageing couple in Pawan & Pooja.
Mahesh Manjrekar and Deepti Naval play an ageing couple in Pawan & Pooja.

Also read: Ayushmann Khurrana’s Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan banned in Dubai and UAE for homosexuality: report

Mahesh Manjrekar emerges as the star of this anthology with a charm that only increases with age. A subtle Deepti is an exact opposite but teams up with him to emerge as a new onscreen pairing Bollywood would love to welcome with open arms. Taaruk of Jumbo Jatts fame also brings the essence of Kanpur with perfection and wins hearts with his small town act.

It’s worth appreciating how the makers hold the plot without a glitch despite its running length of more than 7 hours. The love stories may be complicated but not the execution.

(Hindustan Times doesn’t use star-rating system in its movie reviews.)

(Author tweets @ruchik87)

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021