“Shubh Mangal Savdhan Is Not A Remake, It’s A Rebirth” – RS Prasanna
The trailer of Shubh Mangal Savdhan is wickedly funny. Ayushmann Khurrana’s Mudit Sharma tries to hook up with his fiancée, only to realise that he can’t get it up. Soon, both sets of families get involved in this laugh riot, also starring Bhumi Pednekar. Her father sets a deadline, while Mudit’s dad roars about his family’s throbbing masculinity. Shubh Mangal Savdhan looks like an intelligent portrait of the male ego, Indian attitudes towards sexuality, gender dynamics, sexual behaviour in emerging India, and, most importantly, the changing dynamics of modern relationships. A remake of the director’s Tamil debut, Kalyana Samayal Saadham, the film is definitely pushing the envelope about the kind of subjects Bollywood is making films on.
“I think the very fact that many people would be scared of such an idea is what excited me, and honestly, as a person, I believe that these are the kind of subjects that should be discussed and not be brushed under the carpet. There are too many things under the carpet in India anyway,” says Prasanna. But how is the Hindi film different from the Tamil original? “The treatment and the soul is pretty much the same, but everything else is different. The scenes, dialogues, characters, situations are different. Even the screenplay is very different, because people love dosa and idli there, and people love chapatis and parathas here, so even if the cook is the same, you have to change stuff because the cultures are different from each other. The soul of the film, on the other hand, is absolutely the same. So, it is not a remake but a rebirth,” he says.
What is also interesting to note is how progressive Indian regional film industries are, in comparison to Bollywood. The original film was heartily applauded and enjoyed critical acclaim. The Hindi one, helmed by the middle-class mascot of Bollywood, Khurrana, and his bae from Dum Lagaa Ke Haisha, Pednekar, seems extremely promising already. Khurrana is definitely acing it at his small town northie act, while their chemistry is undeniably charming and intimate. How did everybody react to the script when they heard it for the first time? “They all loved it, and that is why they became the producers, actors and the crew. I think if anybody had to be convinced to do the film, they were not right for the film, because they would not get it,” says Prasanna. Is he not worried about censorship, though? Thankfully Pahlaj Nihalani has been sacked, and we are (hopefully) about to see better days under Prasoon Joshi, but the climate of the country is still that of intolerance. “Well, whether the current scenario is intolerant is up to debate, based on political view points and all that, but the audience has always embraced films, even controversial films, if made with a lot of heart. Our film is an entertaining laugh riot, and I hope people will watch it and love it.”
Who are his favourite film-makers in India? He obviously gushes about his producer, Anand Rai. “My favourite Indian film-makers, apart from Anand Rai obviously, are Mani Ratnam, Kamal Haasan, Aamir Khan (I look at Aamir Khan as a film-maker and not an actor), Shoojit Sircar and Vishal Bhardwaj.” And which Indian films has he enjoyed recently? “Leaving Anand Rai aside, because I love all his films, I loved Piku and Lunchbox. I also loved Newton, a film that Anand Rai is releasing (directed by Amit Masurkar).” With just five directorial credits to date (two of which are Strangers and Thodi Life Thoda Magic), Rai seems to have quite a fan boy in Prasanna.
What is up next for him? Does he plan to stick to Bollywood now? “Well, I never planned to get into Bollywood. My film brought me here. So it is your work that you need to focus on, and hopefully everything else will happen on its own. I am working on scripts that can be made into films in any language. The love I received here is immense, and I would be a fool to say that I am not in love with Bollywood,” Prasanna signs off.