Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar is a masterclass in misogyny and an underwhelming rom-com

Karishma Jangid
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Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar

Luv Ranjan's Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar is a long and illogical rom-com that is rarely funny and mostly sexist.

Opening scene: A woman walks by in a mini blue dress. A man driving by stares at her creepily. It makes her feel confident, and she smiles. Welcome to a Luv Ranjan film! Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar promised to revive romantic comedies in Bollywood. However, it is, in essence, a sexist comedy obsessed with men and frivolousness instead of romance. "Kitne frivolous ho chuke hai log. Chhee!" indeed.

Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar revolves around Rohan Arora aka Mickey (Ranbir Kapoor), a second-generation businessman and brat born and bred in a Punjabi family. He is also a breakup consultant whose "qala" is to help people break up. "Aadhe therapist hai hum," he says. His best friend, Manu Dabbas (Anubhav Singh Bassi) is about to marry his fiancé Kinchi (Monica Chaudhary) but doesn't want to. Why? Because she loves him too much. Kinchi, a typical over-possessive woman, crashes Manu's bachelor with her friend Nisha "Tinni" Malhotra (Shraddha Kapoor). Nisha enters the scene dancing sexily while singing "Maine pi rakhi hai". This is enough to make Mickey fall head over heels in love with her. Over the following days, he follows Nisha and presses her to fall in love with him even though she is not interested. "Thoda taad lu, thoda jaan lu," is his idea of wooing a woman. By now, the heroine is following suit. Believing that he just wants "timepass", she has sex so that he will go away. He doesn't. In fact, he funnily cries, "She used me". Eventually, like always, the heroine is impressed and she says yes. The tables turn when, just before getting married, Tinni decides to break up with Mickey using his breakup consultancy.

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Typical of Luv Ranjan's characters, Mickey is a sexist brat who doesn't understand how to take no for an answer. "Ye toh mere pyaar ki mahanta hai na," he claims because he doesn't want sex, but love as if he's doing a favor by not wanting sex. He literally doesn't shut up until the girl says yes. He is a selfish friend who makes his friend's bachelor trip all about himself. Ranbir Kapoor's comeback as a romantic hero is effective due to how effortlessly he acts, but at what cost? He effortlessly delivers the hallmark monologues, but dialogues like, "Ab toh mera chipakne ka mann kar raha hai" and "Tujhpe try nahi maara toh dil se nazar kaise mila paunga" are nauseating. Shraddha Kapoor didn't even act well. What was there to portray in a character, after all, whose only job is to walk around with a straight face and no dialogue? Throughout the film, mostly men talk- about women, and men, and how they are oppressed by women. When the women speak, they are either being stereotypical, bossy, or manipulative. Perhaps the only woman I loved is Dimple Kapadia as Mickey's chaotic, Punjabi mother Renu Arora. She stereotypically but aptly acts making you laugh and relate. And the only male character I liked is Manu. Bassi, as an actor, looks nervous and shines only when he is doing his forte, comedy. However, somehow he feels like a respite amongst the other appalling aspects of the film.

Another annoying aspect of the film is its songs. They are many and noisy. "Show Me the Thumka", especially, with its weird lyrics and choreography gives you secondhand embarrassment. The dialogues are no good either. It's as if monologues were distributed for fun and not as per requirement. The weakest part of the film is its foundation- the script. The film is unnecessarily long and picks up pace only during the climax. It's as if someone jumped from scene to scene and forgot to write a story. As if someone wrote a script but forgot to edit or even reread it. The camera slowing down every time the protagonists kiss doesn't help either.

Addressing the elephant in the room now: Director Luv Ranjan, who has been accused of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement, is known for movies that glorify the bro code and view women as nothing more than nagging girlfriends. That is his brand of cinema and there exists an audience for it; his movies entertain the masses. His previous movies like "Pyaar ka Punchnama" and "Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety" have been hits. Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar also witnessed the second-best opening after Pathaan. But is that a good enough reason to get away with such deeply-entrenched sexism?

Throughout the film, I was bored and cringing at the sexism, but the climax had me angry. I have tried not to give any spoilers but proceed at your own risk. Somewhere before the climax, the film conveniently turns into a Sooraj Barjatya film or even a Baghban. Tinni's character is butchered to make Mickey a hero. Throughout the film, Mickey speaks, preaches, takes decisions, and wins; Tinni only follows him. When she doesn't, she turns out to be wrong. It is established that independent women's concerns are not valid if they do not align with the hero's wishes. Tinni is independent and modern for modernity's sake because that is the kind of girl that Mickey prefers. The film would be openly regressive if he did not. In this sense, the film, especially its climax is sinister. It is such cinema and such mentality that continues to cage and suffocate so many women. This psyche brands independent women who do not prefer a joint family to be evil. Sure, women have to leave their families, but how dare we ask a man to do the same? A man is never labeled a home-breaker if he separates a woman from her family.

I'm fully aware that this is a romantic comedy, a fairy tale where suspension of disbelief is the norm. You do not walk into a fairy tale and demand logic. But who says that a romantic comedy cannot be created without belittling or antagonizing women? Before the film was released, many anticipated that this is the director's attempt to redeem himself, but this movie is far from any redemption. If anything, it glorifies misogyny in a supposedly progressive package. The writing is so consistently dedicated to misunderstanding women, or rather understanding women for what the writer thinks women are. Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar is clearly made for men, men who feel victimized by women because "wife won't let me go on boys' trip". A romantic comedy can be entertaining even if the male protagonist is not sexist. Misogyny is not a prerequisite for entertainment. What's worse is the film is not even entertaining or funny. It just meanders through illogical scenes to eventually make a point. Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar is an unimpactful and misogynist attempt at making a Bollywood rom-com.

Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar is currently streaming in theatres.

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