This movie is similar in ideation to ‘Jabariya Jodi’, the Hindi film released last year on the kidnapping of eligible young men. The gentlemen in that movie are forcibly turned into grooms. The purpose of this exercise is to bypass the pernicious and pecuniary dowry system, and to encourage the gentlemen in question to marry the woman without bankrupting her family. A not unwelcome by-product of this arrangement (at least for gangsters) is the generation of an extra source of income to enforce the diktat.
The wedding enforcement directorate in ’Sab Kushal Mangal’ is headed by Baba Bhandari (Akshaye Khanna). Attended by two flunkeys, he takes it upon himself to right cases involving social inequity. He lives in a bungalow in a small town in Jharkhand, surrounded by muddy wrestlers who are always heaving each other around. Here, he holds court. At the dashing ‘darbar’ in which he airs his views on the institution of holy matrimony, he nonchalantly accepts fat envelopes from the fathers of eligible young women to facilitate their marriage ‘arrangements’.
Enter the TV news anchor. With the solemn air of ‘a nation needs to know’, but without the accompanying bluster, a local news host, Pappu Mishra (Priyank Sharma), does a ‘breaking story’ on Baba Bhandari and his racket of enforced weddings. In response, the good Baba kidnaps the young media man, a very eligible bachelor in town, and prepares to bring him to the executioner’s block, better known in India as the ‘mandap’.
Akshaye Khanna has two presentations in the film. In the beginning, he has long and unkempt hair, wears flashy garments, and speaks in the ‘bhojpuria’ manner. Later, struck by Cupid’s arrow himself, he asks for the ‘metro’ haircut, works out with his wrestler buddies, is nattily turned out in a suit, asks for black coffee, and speaks English, at least in the opening sentence of his conversations. He even holds out a rose, and kneels to his lady love.
This cultural transformation of a hoodlum to a westernised city slicker is meant to be hilarious, but falls flat on its face for largely technical reasons. The direction of actors, their dialogue delivery and their timing of it, seems out of sync. Even the recording of sound and picture is inept, and you always feel more outside the movie, than in it.
‘Sab Kushal Mangal’ is intended as a comedy, and has at least one ‘A’ grade actor giving it his best shot. But for a movie to work as narrative, the director must have some natural aptitude for the medium. This is not the case here, and the film ends up with a ‘B’ grade look.