Director: Luv Ranjan
There are two things you should know about “Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety”, although if you’ve watched director Luv Ranjan’s “Pyaar Ka Punchnama” and its sequel it should come as no surprise whatsoever. The first is that women are always the enemy. They’re scheming ball-busting shrews. The second is that despite the sexism, the objectionable stereotyping, and the frequent misogyny, the film is unquestionably funny. Now, what to do!
Ranjan, who has turned the ‘battle of the sexes’ premise into a full-fledged, thriving genre of its own, operates from the most simplistic kind of frat-boy logic where bros always come before hoes. In the new film, however, that understanding is threatened when a seemingly perfect girl becomes a thorn in the lifelong friendship between two male friends.
Sonu (Kartik Aryan) is the sort of fella who’s likely paid close attention to the director’s previous films. He’s suspicious of women, and for him, they only serve one purpose. You know what purpose. His best friend Titu (Sunny Singh) frequently falls in love, but Sonu invariably swoops in and ‘protects’ him when things get too serious. When Sunny agrees to an arranged marriage with Sweety (Nushrat Bharucha) and clearly begins falling for her, Sonu is convinced that she can’t be as nice as she appears, and becomes determined to break them up before wedding bells toll.
It’s an interesting idea, but one that’s powered a few Hollywood rom-coms already, including 2001’s “Saving Silverman” starring Jason Biggs and Amanda Peet. This desi version sees rivals Sweety and Sonu use everything from sex to an ex to tilt the scales in their favor.
What’s problematic is that we’re already prejudiced against the woman and conditioned to side with the best friend. “Chanakya ki maa hai yeh aurat,” Sonu says of Sweety at one point, referring to the shrewd lengths she will go to in this one-upmanship for a place in Titu’s life. Sonu, however, gets away with all manner of crafty plotting because his actions are for the larger cause of friendship. You see it was never a level playing field, to begin with.
Occasionally you wonder if one of two possibilities might, in fact, be the real reason for Sonu going to war on Sweety. Could it be that perhaps he is in love with her himself? Or, more interestingly, that he is in love with Titu? The first option would be too obvious, the second the filmmakers aren’t brave enough to explore. No, what you see is what you get. This is plain ol’ protectiveness. Early on in the film, when confronted with a similar situation, Titu says it to Sonu in so many words: “Yeh tera mother instinct hai mere liye.”
But if the uproarious laughter from the audience watching the film in my cinema was any indication, they’re not giving it this much thought. The film is consistently funny, with clever lines thrown about at lightning speed. There’s also a big ensemble of supporting characters in the form of Titu’s family. Most memorable of this lot are Alok Nath as Titu’s grandfather Ghasitaram and Virendra Saxena as Ghasitaram’s best friend Lalu. Alok Nath, in particular, is a real hoot, sending up his ‘sanskari’ image, playing a hard-drinking, swearing old man.
Of the principal cast, Kartik Aryan has the tough job of making Sonu a relatable, likable figure despite his misdeeds. He does a perfectly good job, not least because the script is skewed unfairly in Sonu’s favor. Nushrat Bharucha manages to hold her own, despite little help from the script, and Sunny Singh has a nice presence although he has very little heavy lifting to do.
“Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety” has a strange kind of earnestness in its juvenile ambitions. I was uncomfortable with its decidedly women-bashing stand, but I enjoyed the film’s silly, relentless humor. I’m going with three out of five.