Posters of the film 'Pati Patni Aur Woh' Photograph:( Twitter )
‘Pati, Patni Aur Woh’ might not leave a lasting impression on you, but while you are watching it, you will find yourself rooting for the wife.
It is almost 2020, and Bollywood still finds joy in making films on adultery. A middle-class married man wanting to look out of his marriage out of sheer boredom in his life and befriending a young damsel (not in distress) just for fun and then hiding the relationship from his wife is a story bit too dated. And while we shrug and say ‘Men will be men’, director Mudassar Aziz lets the women take control of the situation and teach a lesson or two to the philandering man in his new film ‘Pati, Patni Aur Woh’.
A remake of a rather controversial, sexist 1973 film by the same name, the 2019 version tries to adapt an age-old story but with contemporary twists to the narrative. The story is set in Kanpur, a small-town city in northern India, which is trying to strike a balance between modernity and traditional values. So you have Chintu, the husband( Kaartik Aaryan) as the complacent middle-class man who is rather jaded with mundanities in his life. He works in the Public Works Department of the city and has a feisty, ambitious wife Vedika (Bhumi Pednekar) who has a mind of her own and wants him to shift to Delhi for a better life, which Chintu relents obviously. Three years into the marriage, things seem to be going great, just that the routine has crept into their relationship as a third wheel and distance – both emotional and in bed- seemed to have increased over a period of time.
Enter Tapasya (Ananya Panday) a sassy designer from Delhi who seeks Chintu’s help to get a plot to set up a manufacturing unit in Kanpur. Chintu cooks up a story of a fictional affair that wife is having to gain sympathy from Tapasya and in turn spend more time with her. Naturally, a web of lies complicates Chintu's life and even though his best friend Fahim (Aparshakti Khurana) helps him cover up his tracks, he still questions his intent and loyalty at every step.
Aziz, who has written the screenplay as well as the dialogues, gives the two women more individuality and lets them take charge even as the men (Chintu, Fahim and Vedika’s ardent admirer Rakesh Yadav) fumble at every step. Bollywood has churned out several films on infidelity but in most, the men have come out clean, unscathed and hero-like. In ‘Pati, Patni Aur Woh’, the strongest character is that of Vedika’s who has a mind of her own, is ambitious and even a fan following in the college where she teaches. So when she finds out about her cheating husband, her reaction is far more practical than her screen contemporaries. She is stunned, but never breaks down or loses control- instead, she walks out without really creating much fuss about her crumbling marriage.
The film wins primarily for how it deals with the women characters. Even Tapasya is shown to have a lot of confidence and a strong mind- attributes that Chintu lack. She is not ready to play the home breaker initially and is even okay to talk it out with the wife before taking the plunge with Chintu.
The three leads do a credible job in the film, that propel the viewing experience. Aryan plays the flawed, charming Chintu effortlessly. After Ayushmann Khurrana, Aaryan seems to have adapted the small-town hero template well and gets the dialects, the mannerism of a middle-class married man quite well. Panday, in her second film after ‘Student Of The Year 2’, plays a character far more mature and older than her age quite convincingly. She fits the big city girl with a good heart template well and the young actress exudes confidence as Tapasya.
The film though has Pednekar and Aparshakti Khurana in top form. A credible actress, Pednekar exudes a different level sass as the ambitious, practical, sultry Vedika who knows she is still desired by men- with or without a marriage tag attached to her. Pednekar’s Vedika is smug but loving and practical and a far cry from her character in her debut film ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ but the actress plays this part with absolute ease. Aparshakti Khurrana, who has by now aced playing the Hero’s friend films, gets the best lines in the film and does complete justice to his character as Fahim. Fahim and Chintu’s camaraderie provide the maximum laughs and it is a delight to watch Khurrana play the cocky loyal Fahim with such conviction.
Not just the characters but even the narrative is very topical where Aziz slips in jokes on minority and marginalisation, Indian’s obsession with winter weddings and even caste elitism. The lines are clever and witty and lift an otherwise ordinary narrative.
The film tends to get preachy in the second half though when the characters indulge in conversation of morals, the importance of love in marriage and loyalty. Those portions seem a bit stretched and puncture an otherwise breezy narrative.
‘Pati, Patni Aur Woh’ may be predictable but it still works for its lines, the actors and its contemporary take on marriage. It may not leave a lasting impression on you, but while you are watching it, you will find yourself rooting for the wife.