Jai Mummy Di

Director: Navjot Gulati

Cast: Sunny Singh Nijjar, Sonnalli Seygall, Supriya Pathakak

With a running time of a brisk 105 minutes, Jai Mummy Di is approximately 103.5 minutes too long. The 1.5 minutes in which we sense the slightest semblance of harebrained entertainment is an afterthought – an epilogue featuring cameos from comic regulars like Varun Sharma and Nushrat Bharucha. The actual film is a pointless procedure in making a bad joke worse. The central theme of two mothers at war has virtually no bearing on the breakup syndrome of the lead couple. Puneet (Sunny Singh) and Saanjh (Sonnalli Seygall) are conceived as such tone-deaf and morally bankrupt characters to uphold the comedy-of-errors narrative that you’d rather they choke on the Delhi smog than enjoy a smug happily ever after. Did I mention that she’s a North Indian heroine who likes cussing, eating panipuris and smoking slims as if they were soggy paper straws? I like Jab We Met as much as the next sucker, but there isn’t a Friday I don’t resent Geet and her reinvention of feminine spunk. It’s not her fault that every man is still turned on by her flakiness.

The reason Puneet and Saanjh keep dumping one another isn’t down to their domineering mothers – their annoying restlessness is just an excuse to include a bunch of mournful separation songs and forlorn Imtiaz Ali-universe gazes. Which might have been bearable, if it had aspired to be more than a wish-fulfillment exercise. The “family comedy” part is in fact reverse engineered to present a messy relationship that isn’t half as complex as it thinks it is. A college song (electrical engineers in school uniforms) is followed by a breakup song, which is followed by a moving-on song, which is promptly followed by back-in-love song and the cycle is repeated. All these songs – sad or happy or melancholic or half-happy or Sia-meets-Baadshah – sound like the same song put through an array of Punjabi sound filters.

As for the performances, Sunny Singh wears the perpetual expression of a perplexed man who cannot believe that MS Dhoni is still on a sabbatical. Even his smiles look worried. Sonnalli Seygall has not evolved one bit since her debut in Pyaar Ka Punchnama nine years ago. To be fair, she can’t exactly catch fire opposite a lead-footed lead actor.

For a film that opens with a wedding, closes with a wedding, and has at least three wedding sequences in between, Jai Mummy Di is surprisingly commitment-phobic – even if this concerns its relationship with coherence, craft and humour. An example: Puneet and Saanjh, who are soon engaged to other people (don’t ask), set about trying to repel their respective partners with offensively stupid plans. Saanjh opts for the more respectable “I want a 4-BHK after the wedding” route, but Puneet tells the girl that he is gay. She kisses him hard, strokes his crotch and scoffs at his erection with a line whose most polite translation reads “Gay? I’ll convert you by tomorrow morning”. At another point, they come up with a plan of asking their emasculated fathers to help them ditch the weddings – which, as it turns out, share a common venue and date (don’t ask). Naturally, the fathers agree. Naturally, this turns into a situational comedy – except, the viewers are the ones stuck in a hopeless situation. Even the reaction shots lack a sense of rhythm.

As for the performances, Sunny Singh wears the perpetual expression of a perplexed man who cannot believe that MS Dhoni is still on a sabbatical. Even his smiles look worried. Sonnalli Seygall has not evolved one bit since her debut in Pyaar Ka Punchnama nine years ago. To be fair, she can’t exactly catch fire opposite a lead-footed lead actor.

So much of this Luv Ranjan co-production is aggressively patchy, unfunny and unnecessary that perhaps the only thing light-hearted about it is the initials of its title, JMD. Two of those letters (hint: it’s not M) reflect the initials of my favourite whiskey, which I now cannot drink without the disclaimer “Alcohol consumption is bad for health” flashing on my mental screen.

 

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