Luv Ranjan, the director of Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, would probably make a good stand-up comedian. He thinks in terms of snappy bits. There’s a bit about the futility of honking in a traffic jam. There’s a bit about our parents’ obsession with the first-IIT-then-MBA course plan. There’s one about who pays for a dinner when there are six people at the table. And there are many bits about the ping-pong of modern-day relationships. These bits are basically a lot of foreplay leading up to a giant explosion (delivered, as in the earlier film, by Kartik Aaryan) about – and against – women. A lot of this rant is funny, especially a killer observation about the couple in Titanic. It’s politically incorrect – sure. But that’s where the good laughs usually are. Seth MacFarlane, during his Oscar-hosting gig, made a crack about Quvenzhane Wallis. “To give you an idea of how young [she] is, it’ll be 16 years before she’s too young for Clooney.” It’s terrible. It’s also kinda funny.
It’s a pity, then, that Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 tries to tell an actual story. This time, too, it’s about three men (Kartik Aaryan, Sunny Singh, Omkar Kapoor) who fall for three women who are really lemon squeezers in disguise – only, the receptacle is testicle-shaped. One of them (Nushrat Bharucha) is a Chihuahua who keeps yapping that the salon lady did her nails in periwinkle blue instead of sky blue. Another (Sonalli Sehgall) makes the man do endless chores for her parents, even as she’s unable to commit to him. And the third (Ishita Raj) seems to love her boyfriend for his credit cards. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara had one annoying, infantile female character (played by Kalki Koechlin) – but there were relatively grown-up women around her, and they balanced things out. Here, everyone’s a Kalki Koechlin. It feels like a fart in the face of a gender. You wonder why these men put up with it.
It isn’t love, for sure. We hardly get any moments that suggest intimacy (there’s only the physical kind). What we get are scenes like the one in which the boy is working out. He checks out the girl who’s working out alongside, dressed in a handkerchief and doing squats with the camera positioned behind her. He asks her out for coffee. She says, Do you really want to have a conversation? She invites him home. He puts on a cassette tape (this generation knows what those are?) and does a striptease. She returns the favour by performing a belly dance. The over-forties in the audience are surely ruing their first dates, filled with fumbling conversations about hobbies.
Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 is overlong and it tries to make us feel outraged on behalf of these guys. These poor men, who were so carefree and happy until these evil women, these rhymes-with-witches, landed in their lives. I didn’t buy it for a second. To use the film’s lingo, surely there are other chicks in the farm. We may have bought one man being strung along – but all three? But then, that’s how Ranjan structures his screenplay. Everything happens in threes. The three men fall in love. The three men discover that their women are making them do things they don’t want to. The three men decide to grow a pair. The film ends with the three men on the phone with their mothers – the only woman, apparently, whose love is unconditional. Pathetic? Or a stinging comment about the Indian male? Hopefully, that phone call came with a side of gajar ka halwa.
- Pyaar Ka Punchnama = a post mortem of love
- Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara = see here
- gajar ka halwa = see here; something every Indian mother, according to Bollywood, makes for her son
Copyright ©2015 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.