When she says she's leaving him, our hero falls in her lap and cries helplessly, like a child that does not want his mother to leave on the first day of school. He has no words, just helpless resignation and shameless tears. She's broken him down. She knows exactly what buttons to hit to reduce the most self-respecting man to a submissive child stripped of all ego.
It's very rare to see an Indian film show this side of the modern woman and more importantly, this aspect of the modern man. The image of the macho hero is broken and shattered to bits, thanks to Luv Ranjan's heart-warming bittersweet tale of buddies, bonding and girl trouble.
Be warned, this is not a date movie. Far from it. In fact, taking your girlfriend to this film guarantees a fight unless she can deal with what goes on in a guy's mind. Pyaar Ka Punchnama is a film that's straight from a heart that you never knew existed in men and it's likely to be celebrated as a cult film for its depiction of man as the weaker sex, struggling to understand the complex creatures that women are and failing to cope with the pangs of living with them.
The Hollywood celebration of this vulnerability has resulted in some truly memorable films of all time. From Billy Wilder's The Apartment in the Sixties to Woody Allen's Annie Hall in the Seventies to Cameron Crowe's Say Anything of the Eighties to Nick Hornby's High Fidelity in the Nineties, all the way to the recent 500 Days of Summer, the hopeless romantic is a timeless type.
What's refreshing in Pyaar Ka Punchnama is that director Luv Ranjan decides to tell us the story of not just one but three seemingly different men in three different kinds of relationships with a purposeful sense of capturing the larger truth about women and relationships. Rajat (Kartik), Choudhary (Raayo) and Liquid (Divyendu) are best buddies who fall in love with three girls with varying attitudes towards commitment. Rajat's girlfriend is committed; Choudhary's fling does not understand commitment, while Liquid's “just-friend” does not even acknowledge let alone accept their bond.
Never has so much relationship gyaan been pumped into one film and this is clearly ‘When Harry Met Sally' of our modern cinema. Sample the six-minute long single shot monologue where Rajat lets out all the pent-up angst after a fight with his girlfriend. Understandably, the audience in the hall was in splits for the entire duration of that rant because someone there on screen said out loud what not many men wouldn't find words to articulate. A fantastic thesis on the behavioural patterns of the woman during an argument.
It's interesting that the girls go beyond stereotype. They aren't just evil, plain cunning or opportunists as films in this genre often turn out to be. They are real people who want love too and know to get it from exactly who they want and when they want. They can bring you extreme happiness, joy and shower you with love but are totally capable of hitting the demolish button at their will and fancy.
If the highly selfish, larger-than-life, rich kids from Dil Chahta Hai set the mood and tone for the youth over the last decade, the more relatable guys next door from Pyaar Ka Punchnama manage to do the same for this generation without commanding any of the star appeal that the Khans brought to the Farhan Akhtar film. And that is testimony to the quality of writing and acting of this ensemble.
It would be unfair to call this a coming-of-age comedy. It's an utterly romantic bromance that takes a candid look at relationships and that wretched thing called love. Luv Ranjan, clearly the debut filmmaker of the year, has an uncompromising vision and confidence to switch from laugh-out-loud comedy to indulgent drama to angst-ridden rock and even paces it as unevenly as life itself, something that may not go down well with those looking for just laughs.
But, Guys, if you will watch only one movie this year, this is it. Girls, if you have ever wondered what goes on in the mind of every guy, this is it.
Sometimes, the baby. Sometimes, the substitute and sometimes, the dog. Such is the life of man.
Pyaar Ka Punchnama
Director: Luv Ranjan
Cast: Kartikeya Tiwari, Raayo Bhakirta, Divyendu Sharma, Nushrat, Sonalli, Ishita
Storyline: Three guys deal with the bittersweet pangs of love
Bottomline: No matter how cool, strong or smart, every man is a fool in love
Keywords: Pyar Ka Punchnama film review