Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari movie review: Diljit Dosanjh eclipses Manoj Bajpayee in this fun but scatterbrained comedy

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Nov 17, 2020 09:13 PM IST

Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari movie review: Diljit Dosanjh and Manoj Bajpayee lock horns in Tere Bin Laden director Abhishek Sharma’s latest film about a man who is desperate to get married and a wedding detective.

Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari
Director: Abhishek Sharma
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Diljit Dosanjh, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Manoj Pahwa, Annu Kapoor and others

Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari review: The film features Fatima Sana Shaikh with Diljit Dosanjh.
Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari review: The film features Fatima Sana Shaikh with Diljit Dosanjh.

There is a lot that Abhishek Sharma set out to do with his sixth feature film, Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari. He wanted it to be an intelligent comedy that pits an acting great against a naturally enigmatic young star. He wished to bring in political tones and explore Mumbai’s identity as a city of immigrants and dreams. And finally, he wanted to be the director that brought audiences back to film theatres with his bold choice of releasing the film in cinemas even as coronavirus cases continue piling up in the country. However, it is safe to say that he saw more success in some goals than the others.

Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari stars Diljit Dosanjh as Suraj, a young Sikh man in want of a wife in ‘Bombay’ of 1995, as the location title announces right at the beginning. When we meet him for the first time, Suraj is making introduction videos to rope in prospective brides, showcasing what he believes is his ‘good guy’ personality. What proof does he have of it? The classic, ‘because I have a sister of my own’. He is on the lookout for the classic Bhartiya nari who would toil in the kitchen all day and in the bedroom all night. Amid eye rolls, you cannot help but get instantly hooked on the high that is real-life teetotaller, Diljit.

Watch the trailer for Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari:

 

He is the Hindi-speaking, slightly charming, mostly gullible son of a Sikh dairy farmer (Manoj Pahwa) and his wife from Mathura (Seema Pahwa). The first generation of his family to be born in Mumbai, he never bothered to learn Marathi all this while. Real trouble comes knocking when Madhu Mangal Rane (Manoj Bajpayee) comes to cast a long shadow on his life and happiness. Mangal is a wedding detective with a penchant for theatrics and revenge. He outs Suraj as a boozing, eveteasing, publically-urinating no-good ‘bad boy’ to a prospective bride’s family. Suraj then decides to take revenge, by aiming at Mangal’s sister Tulsi (Fatima Sana Shaikh).

However, a lot changes when Tulsi comes into the picture. Thanks to Diljit’s undeniable cuteness of being, or perhaps the writing department’s utter disregard for consistency, Suraj soon establishes himself as not really that sexist, when he falls for Tulsi. She is the perfect bahu of any desi family’s dreams but sadly, dreams rarely tell us what is true. She is Tulsi in the streets and DJ Tina in the sh--disco. While he may love her, Suraj still decides to use Tulsi’s secret to exact revenge on Mangal. The toxic cycle continues as the men hurt all those around them for their shallow ideas of justice and redemption.

If the scope of film had simply been to tell of the perils of anger and selfishness while preaching the good that is in the first act of forgiveness and kindness, Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari may have been a fairly well thought albeit too simple a film. But what is worse than not introducing brave and big ideas in your film is setting them up, only to abandon them midway.

From the choice to set the film in 1995--the year Bombay officially became Mumbai--Abhishek seemed to have set out to explore the dynamics between immigrants from North India and the Marathi community. However, the exploration never really permeates beyond the thin, superficial layer of Marathi and Sikh surnames to characters. The differences of cultures are not even the reasons behind the families’ objections against one another. The focus is lost soon and often as the film launches into the general ideas of romance, comedy and revenge, only to gain it back in the final scene with some hazy conversation about migrants between Suraj and Mangal as the final credits roll up. So why was it necessary to set it in the 90s? Not just Abhishek, even the costume department, the cinematography, the set design, nothing reflects that we have gone back 25 years in time. Women are flaunting beach waves, wearing Instagram’s best-selling sarees and even the music in clubs sounds like 2010s electronic.

The dialogues are not snappy or witty enough to match the comedic talents of Diljit or Manoj. While Diljit still gets to show off his electric, Punjabi side in scenes such as the one where he ransacks a professor’s house or the one in which he plans for Mangal’s downfall with his lackey/cousin, Manoj is mostly left to simply play with some extravagant costumes and get-up. Those are also exhausted by the end of first 30 minutes of the film. The rest of the time, Manoj bears an evil grin, complemented with his made-up, nauseatingly polite voice. As weird as it feels to be writing this, Diljit does indeed become the one to grab all the attention, eclipsing the acting masterclass that is Manoj.

Also read: Nikhil Dwivedi says he turned to production as he ‘was not offered good work’, talks about returning to acting with Scam 1992

All comparisons aside, Manoj and Diljit do make Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari an easy treat. However, it is still not worth braving the coronavirus for. Stay home, stay safe, wait a bit and do watch it whenever it arrives on any streaming service.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Soumya Srivastava is Entertainment Editor at Hindustan Times. She writes about movies and TV because what else is there to life anyway.

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