Shraddha Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor in a still from Tu Jhothi Mein Makkar Image credit: T-Series/YouTube
gave Love Ranjan The romantic comedy opens with descriptions of fitness, dental and fashion goals, but sets family goals for a generation that celebrates instant gratification and individuality. It’s set in times when endemic insecurities have turned the market into an industry and long-lasting love into a genuine emotion with diminishing returns. Where commitment is overrated and love is just another commodity to be bought after checking the expiry date. At the beginning of the film, we are told “Pyaar hota ki baar hai”. While the theme is relatable, the performances are cheeky, and the mood is naturally pleasant, the nuts and bolts of the story demand suspension of disbelief.
Ranjan likes to look at relationships from a male perspective and here again the title makes it clear whose perspective it is. The difference from his previous films is that here he tries to create a sense of gender equality when it comes to investing in love before the male protagonist decides to stand behind him. Even as it subtly nudges the audience to see the perspective of a financially independent woman, the film fosters the notion that she sees a problem where none exists and nothing matters. Doesn’t do much about.
So Jhuthi Me Makkar (Hindi)
Director: Lu Ranjan
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Anubhu Kumar Bassi, Boney Kapoor
Runtime: 164 minutes
Storyline: A ‘breakup’ artist gets a taste of his own medicine when his new girlfriend gets cold feet before her engagement.
Unlike Imtiaz Ali or Karan Johar, Ranjan hardly sees anything extraordinary in romance and reduces relationships to a negotiation between hormones and bank balance. He seems to pick his stories from a society where unemployment rates are high in both work and love. In his universe, the characters of a new India emerging around the IT hub collide with those born on traditional sources of wealth. For both, money is not an issue but their emotional portfolio is not rich enough and not really matched. Instead of serenading, they engage in a game of one-upmanship because they don’t want to be tied down to one vacation, one car, one person and their family.
Rohan or Mickey (Ranbir Kapoor) belongs to a business family who debate the pros and cons over a hearty Punjabi meal. On the side, he runs a break-up startup with his friend Dabas (Anubhu Kumar Bassi) who represents the underclass trying to join the elite after selling their agricultural lands.
On vacation, Rohan finds his match in Nisha or Tini (Shraddha Kapoor), which operates in Gurugram’s cyber hub. She flashes her swimsuit, he exposes his abs, and we get a long advertisement for new-age romance. But as Ranjan shifts gears and Teni Kirta comes in pyjamas, we realize they are cut from the same old cloth. Teni loves Mickey but does she want to invest her feelings in the ‘lala’ land, a euphemism for the business family, where Mickey has roots? Here is a boy who wants to fetch the moon for his beloved but also wishes to buy a few stars for his mother, father and sister along the way. But the girl sees love in her life as indirectly proportional to freedom. Does Rishta Guru have a solution? It is an age-old mystery that Ranjan is trying to solve with modern-day candor.
Behind the comedy scene, there is an interesting battle of perspectives and it took an actor of Ranbir’s class to do justice to it. He gives a lot of gravitas to a genre that turned Kartik Aaryan (he appears in a cameo) into a brand. Ranbir has shown flashes of a naughty boy in the advertisements of the brands he endorses. Here he verbally surrenders Mickey with a Shashi Kapoor-like flair and shows his mastery at internalizing complex emotions when the transformation takes place. Shraddha is not necessarily a better actress than Nusrat Bharucha, Ranjan’s resident muse so far, but she brings a kind of freshness to the proceedings as she is cast against the type. She is unstoppable in the pool of water and floats easily in the pool of emotions in the second half. However, an independent girl doesn’t seem to have a happy-go-lucky look, or maybe the director doesn’t want it. Dimple Kapadia and Basi provide good support and Pritam’s music matches the pulse of the theme.
Unlike the protagonist, there is truth in what the film wants to say. Perhaps, a few more drafts would have sharpened his approach and avoided the ludicrous concept of running to an airport to set up the climax.
Tum Jhothi Mein Makkar is currently playing in theatres.