Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari: Wobbles between satire and slapstick

Abhishek Sharma is back with a satire, and he loves being deliberately scatterbrained about it — we know from his two Tere Bin Laden films. Being goofy and caustic at the same time can be tricky business. While he sailed with Tere Bin Laden, he struggled with its follow-up, Tere Bin Laden: Dead And Alive.

The narrative, quite predictably, sets up a clash between Suraj and Mangal. Happy-go-lucky Suraj Singh Dhillon (Diljit Dosanjh) hails from a moneyed ‘doodhwala’ family. His parents want him settled down, and Suraj, too, is on the lookout for the right girl.

 

His chance is ruined when the self-proclaimed ‘wedding detective’, Madhu Mangal Rane (Manoj Bajpayee), ‘exposes’ him as an unsuitable boy in the eyes of a prospective bride. Suraj subsequently starts dating Tulsi (Fatima Sana Shaikh), and he will be stumped to know subsequently that she is Mangal’s sister. He realizes he could use Tulsi to extract revenge on Mangal.

The obvious symbolism of the clash between North Indian Suraj and Maratha manoos Mangal over Tulsi forms the crux of more than just the attempted comedy, it becomes clear soon enough.

There is a basic problem about such symbolism and satire. Much has changed since then and, although the provincial conflicts of the megapolis may never end, Bombay of the era has essentially survived and learnt to co-exist within Mumbai of present times.

You could, of course, set aside the satire quotient and try savoring the film as a comedy and nothing else.

On paper, the premise is funny. The challenge, though, was to create enough madcap showdown moments through the writing (Rohan Shankar and Shokhi Banerjee).

The film could have been a barrel of easy laughs, but for that it needed many more funny gags. Or it could have been a biting satire, with a lot more intelligent treatment. Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari wobbles between two stools.

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