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Romance vs Bromance: Love in Luv Ranjan’s Films

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Romance vs Bromance: Love in Luv Ranjan’s Films

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Prathyush Parasuraman

Ranjan’s films lean so very seductively, bosoms baring, towards the hip-thrusting party anthem, but at their climax are kisses that have the chastity of a church song. Drained of their hormonal bluster, the kiss in these films is never erotic or enticing, but just a feckless pressing of lip to lip. 

But this is strategic. If he brings in eros, the film will make a case for desire, for coupling, for heterosexuality. But heterosexuality is a problem, that much is clear. That heterosexuality cannot be avoided, too, is clear. So the solution isn’t homosexuality, but homosociality. Where men can discuss, freely, openly, their salaries — he makes Rs. 34,000 a month, the other makes Rs. 40,000, but he makes Rs. 3,00,000 — and not allow the differences in their salaries to affect their friendship. The one who earns most, pays most; simple. It is created as an idealised space where the ego recedes, where the ego finds no reason to express itself.

Both Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety end with the men back together, single, as friends, their friendship thickened by the women’s betrayal, with the former film literally having all of them in bed in one cuddle-sandwich. That while they need women, they want men — because only men can understand men. The only woman men need is their mother — the woman who loves “bina kuch pooche, bina kuch maange”, unconditionally. Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 ends with all the boys eating food, a drink in hand, calling their mothers, telling them they love them, “Bas maa ka pyaar sachha hai; baaki sab bekaar hai.” That only a mother’s love is true, all else is waste. (Interestingly, in an interview with Film Companion, Ranjan said it was his mother who got him interested in storytelling.)

The dynamic between Ranjan’s fictional men hints at a profound idea that touches on social realities of masculine loneliness and masculine grouping — but for the discomfiting detail of this being built on the edifice of feminine, crocodile tears. Even when women start off as interesting stereotypes — like the woman who refuses to let the man pay for everything, always insisting on going dutch — it descends into a sloppy silhouette of a woman becoming a leech on her boyfriend’s bank account and emotional landscape. Women exist to entice men away from common sense. 

Ranjan has often held up his film Akaash Vaani (2013) as a counter to the observation that his perspective is misogynist. If he and Kartik Aaryan were truly misogynists, how could they make a film on marital rape in which the woman finally stands up to her family, her husband, and goes back to her college sweetheart? And shouldn’t fingers be pointed at all those who didn’t show up for Akaash Vaani, but made the effort of watching — ironically or unironically — Luv Ranjan’s other films?   

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