Mayank Shekhar's review: Pyar Ka Punchnama

By Hindustan Times

Director: Luv Ranjan
Actors: Divyendu Sharma, Kartikeya Tiwari
Rating: **

He leaves office early, so he can drop her to the beauty parlour. While she's in, he shops at the mall for her - she needs stuff, because she's traveling. He drops her off then to the airport, comes back home to finish off all her pending stuff from work. Just so the girl can be with her boyfriend, while she's away!

He's only a concerned colleague from office, a motor-mouth who rattles at the speed of thought. None of his talk is smooth. She'd already turned him down once when he'd mustered up courage to ask her out. He hangs around like a hopeful pup still. This is a Geek Tragedy of the average frustrated chump (AFC), which would be the common Indian male.

This everyday Joe, Mr Sexless-in-specs, low on self-esteem, lives his entire life within a dictatorship called the office space, wrapped in a checked bush shirt, office ID hung around his neck. His is a neat human sketch with finely inspired nuances. Unfortunately this actor (Divyendu Sharma) and character (both superbly brilliant) is clubbed in this film with two relatively uninteresting bozos for companions. Like him, they're also AFCs - a term from Neil Strauss' The Game, a bestseller guide that's taught millions of single men around the world how to net the women they want.

None of those American rules apply in an Indian context of course. Where men, right up till their mid-20s, go without having dated any women at all. This is true for the three blokes in this movie as well. They're soul mates first, flat-mates later. Their individual problems with the women they're with couldn't be more different though.

One's stuck with a girl who considers him her private property. The other is in a relationship with a feline creature who likes to play him, and her ex, and several others, at the same time. They'd all still rather be with the women, than with each other. You sort of understand that desperate Indian sentiment.

Most comedies, especially sex comedies, show male of the species to be easy, reckless philanderers. These fellows are more their women's slaves. Which is often closer to the truth. It isn't that men don't stray - surely they do. They usually return to the dog-collar soon enough for comfort, care, and some caning, if you may!

The screenplay, an excellent effort at genuine Indian dick-lit writing, still rings true, in several parts. The solid material isn't however contained enough to make for a tight film. There's no editing of thought, let alone editing out of scenes. Structure, I suppose, could weed out some of the sappiness on the screen. One episode follows another.

The movie acquires rhythms of a TV show, like so many do. We're already in the fifth season by the end of it. Though if this were a TV show, it'd be closest to an authentic Indian version of Friends, or How I Met Your Mother. Which is how and where you should watch this. Yeah, that's where Delhi men would go berserk to Summer of 69 at the karaoke bar. And hope to find a besotted girl at the table next to them!

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