Directors: Mohit Banwait, Amrit Raj Chadha
Cast: Kulwinder Billa, Wamiqa Gabbi, Methab Virk, Karamjit Anmol
Gurjant Singh (Kulwinder Billa) is a wannabe Parahuna (son-in-law) who is looking for a wife who must be as beautiful as Preeti Sapru. Preeti Sapru is to Punjabi film lovers what Madhuri Dixit is to Hindi film lovers. The opening sequence shows him as a runaway scared of being paraded in front of prospective in-laws whose daughters don’t match his expectations of a bride. A tried and tested ruse to getting all these characters bump into each other is a wedding. Gurjant finds Maano (Wamiqa Gabbi), and they fall in love rather easily. The wedding opens up a grand playing field for son-in-laws of all kinds.
Comedy is a character in Parahuna. It is layered in a unique way. The story is rooted in the Malwa region of Punjab and its residents are called Malwayis. An alcoholic Malwayi parahuna has forever been the butt of jokes in popular culture. Numberdar Leela Singh (Karamjeet Anmol), Gurmukh Singh Patwari (Harby Sangha) and Wajir Singh Fauji (Sardar Sohi) are three such son-in-laws. They consume unlimited alcohol and then demean each other’s professions. The futility of their muscle flexing in front of their wives and in-laws is comedic.
The Malwayi language turns out to be just perfect for easy laughs. People from the region are known to be chatty and they refer to a lot to anecdotes to make a point. Actors Nirmal Rishi, Gurpreet Bhangu and Karamjeet Anmol are the gems of the Punjabi film industry that have been instrumental in bringing Malwayi flavours to Punjabi movies.
Parahuna deserves a huge applause for its authentic portrayal of Punjabi wedding traditions. Gidha (traditional Punjabi dance) and wedding songs are comically close to reality. Nineties nostalgia also adds to the comedic character of the film. ‘Jatt Jeona Maur’ (the iconic movie of the bygone era), Preeti Sapru and Varinder (Punjabi actors), Priya scooter are used in a very sophisticated way to create situational comedy.
But making a purely entertaining film with a huge cast comes with certain pitfalls. It was difficult to keep track of the characters and their relationship with each other. Who is whose son-in-law becomes confusing. The characters are flat, as they mostly are in a comedy. All the son-in-laws are clones of each other, with differences just enough to make them stand out. The romantic scenes, which are not many, are a drag, and so are the sermons. Gurjant Singh addresses the competing son-in-laws to drop their egos and become useful relatives to their in-laws. Within seconds, the men reform into better versions of themselves.
This is a film where nuances can be conveniently traded for endless laughs. The best thing that happens in the movie is Dharambir Bhangu’s song ‘Satt Bande’ that says ‘Satt bande aungey baraat vich ni, chara k biba chunni tenu lai jana aa’. (Seven people will come in the baraat, I will marry you in the most simple ceremony.) The song transgresses from the usual anti-dowry narrative and uses its lyrics and music to speak about simpler marriages and down to earth son-in-laws.