Following last year’s breakthrough Bollywood Lesbian love story Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (How I Felt When I Saw That Girl), director Hitesh Kewalya brings the hit new 2020 romcom Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Be Extra Careful About Marriage). The film stars Jitendra Kumar and Ayushmann Khurrana as a gay couple.
According to writer Ken Anthony Mendoza from Style Magazine, Bollywood has long history of stereotyping LGBTQ+ characters into over-the-top clichés – the brothel-owning transgender villain, effeminate horny gay man, cross-dressers, sexualised lesbians and predatory transgender men, etc. These roles are typically cast as ancillary characters, crude caricatures, and the butt of many of those films’ jokes.
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, which seeks to portray queer people in a less sterotypical and more realistic and dignified manner, tells the story of Kartik Singh (Ayushmann Khurrana) who has to overcome many social obstacles to be with his lover, Aman Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar).
The couple hesitantly travel from New Delhi to their hometown, Ahmedabad, to attend the wedding of Aman’s cousin, Goggle (Maanvi Gagroo). Aman is reluctant to go, as his family is waiting to talk to him regarding his impending arranged marriage.
In an interview with The Indian Express, the film’s director Hitesh Kewalya, who received critical acclaim for the film’s prequel Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017), about a man with erectile dysfunction, stated that he wanted to tackle male sexuality. This is not usually portrayed in Bollywood films.
He sought to push the movie franchise further. India’s political climate in 2018 also gave him the timing to write the film.
Since India’s Supreme Court ruled that the colonial-era ban on homosexuality is unconstitutional, there has been a shift on how LGBTQ+ characters are represented on screen, and gay men are not just depicted on dating shows or as drag queens in singing competitions.
“During the discussions, we gave it a thought that why not talk about homosexuality? It was also the time when the conversations (on homosexuality) were on because during that time PILs [public interest litigation] were being filed to decriminalise Article 377.”
Last year, Bollywood’s first major LGBTQ+ film, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (How I Felt When I Saw That Girl), which tells the story of a closeted lesbian and her attempt to come out to her conservative family, has been praised by the LGBTQ+ community.
Times are definitely changing, and Bollywood is now challenging the norm with its first mainstream gay romcom. The trailer for Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan has gained over 55 million views on YouTube. The film, which holds a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, earned ₹86.39 crore ($11.82 million) at the international box office.
Watch the trailer for Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan below!