Five years ago, Ayushmann Khurrana made his debut with a rather unconventional Hindi film, Vicky Donor.
With some great humour and a story that is still considered a taboo in our society, the film started a conversation about sperm donation. It dealt with the issue in the best possible way, introducing it with laughter but convincing the audience enough to make them care about the characters and their lives.
With Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Ayushmann Khurrana picks up another taboo subject - erectile dysfunction.
The film is wise enough to introduce the subject by easing their audience with laughter. But while an couple struggling with erectile dysfunction could've resulted in a great film, looks like they were just too scared of even naming the subject they chose to deal.
Hence, we get a film that does not even use the words 'erectile dysfunction'. Through out the film, they refer to it as a "gent's problem" instead.
In the past few years, Hindi cinema has seen various films about subjects that are considered taboo by our society.
Udta Punjab, Lipstick Under My Burkha and even Vicky Donor were all films that dealt with subjects that are not your average dining room conversations. But these films were bold enough to walk the talk. Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, on the other hand, is constantly walking on eggshells.
Ayushmann's character, Mudit, can't get it up and that is the entire premise of the film. One would imagine that after the laughs when the film nears its climax, they would get over the shyness and finally name the problem. But no, the film mumbles through the "gent's problem" instead!
We've learnt from films in the past that if handled with dignity, even the most hush-hush subjects can be discussed at length.
There's a scene in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan where the bride-to-be's mother is trying to talk about sex to her daughter via poetry. The girl stops her midway and says that the mother won't be able to teach her much as she can't even say the word 'sex' out loud.
And that is exactly what Shubh Mangal Saavdhan does. It starts the conversation but acts like the north Indian mother who only talks in code language. With all its promotions talking about erectile dysfunction, the film fails to mention it even once in the film.
A scene at the doctor's office has a couple of books about erectile dysfunction and impotency lying on the table but that's about it.
The film's sheepish attitude towards the subject lingers on until the end. The resolution to the "gent's problem" is sudden and of course, there is no talk about how the problem was eventually solved.
2017 has been a horrible year for Bollywood. While Shubh Mangal Saavdhan can be appreciated for daring to do something different, its scared nature makes you wonder if erectile dysfunction is so uncomfortable to even say out loud, why did they make a film on it?