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Fatima Sana Shaikh and Diljit Dosanjh in ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’.

Film: ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’

Director: Abhishek Sharma

Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Diljit Dosanjh, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Annu Kapoor, Manoj Pahwa, Seema Pahwa, Vijay Raaz, Supriya Pilgaonkar

Stars: 2.5 out of 5

The stars are aligned somewhat perfectly in the social satire ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’ as a clutch of talented actors form the spine of this comedy that dips and soars sporadically.

In Abhishek Sharma’s romantic comedy set in mid-1990s Mumbai, seasoned actor Manoj Bajpayee pours himself into various disguises as a smarmy wedding detective, Madhu Mangal Rane, who is an ace at digging up dirt about potential grooms.

Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari
Shaikh in ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’.

The wicked wedding wrecker may not have the suave appeal of James Bond, but he has a saviour complex that’s hard to scrub off. The ageing bachelor believes that his life’s mission is to save unsuspecting women and their families from unsuitable men. But he meets his match when he crosses paths with an affable dairy scion Suraj Singh Dhillon (Diljit Dosanjh). Madhu finds incriminating evidence against Suraj and destroys a possible marriage for him, thus earning the wrath of the disgruntled bachelor.

‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’ takes a swipe at the tradition of arranged marriages in India and a family’s obsession with finding a ‘cultured’ (read unambitious) bride.

“Do you know how tough it’s to find an uneducated daughter-in-law and wife these days?” remarks Suraj’s mom — played efficiently by Seema Pahwa.

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Manoj Bajpayee and Diljit Dosanjh.

The movie makes you laugh at yourself and the archaic customs that some Indians have embraced. But what makes this comedy tick is the engaging and endearing performances of the cast.

If Dosanjh is adorable as a good-hearted Punjabi, Fatima Sana Shaikh excels in her role as Madhu’s vivacious sister Tulsi Rane (pronounced as Tursi as a nod to her Maharashtrian roots) who aspires to be a DJ.

Her overbearing brother may be an expert at spying on young men and gathering evidence of their salacious habits, but is clueless about what’s happening in his own home. He’s stubborn and Bajpayee brings life into the movie. But it’s Dosanjh’s impish acts that have our hearts. His turn as the scion of a dairy company is as comforting as the pure ghee (clarified butter) that his family sells. It’s Dosanjh and Bajpayee’s battle of wills that make this comedy engaging.

Shaikh is suitably charming in her role of a young woman who’s prone to be reckless with her life. But be warned the lactose-laced jokes gave us heartburn and the second half gets tiring with these two men trying to pull each other down.

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Some of the twists and turns in the second half might seem forced, but the film has some sparkling moments of easy wit. But what enlivens the film — when the jokes begin to fall flat — are the effective performances of the supporting cast. Supriya Pilgaonkar as Bajpayee’s sarcastic mother is spot on. Her verbal sparring with her son as she makes fun of his occupation and his advancing age lands smoothly.

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While the first half moves swiftly, the second half gets derailed by unwanted narration. But just like a glass of cold milk, the movie is oddly comforting but the lard — in terms of the storyline — might stop you from enjoying it thoroughly. A good skimming of certain twists would have made this comedy sharper.

Don't miss it!

'Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari' is out now in UAE cinemas.