I’m skeptical about any Luv Ranjan project. The filmmaker owes his career to the unfortunate box office success of sexist comedies like 2015’s deplorable Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar.
Ranjan’s objective with Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar (TJMM, henceforth) is simple: show sexy people having a good time in exotic locations accompanied by a catchy soundtrack with some big dance numbers. To that end, it’s mission accomplished.
Ranbir Kapoor plays Mickey Arora, son of a wealthy, tight-knit family. In addition to helping run one of the family’s businesses — how his periodic strolling through an auto showroom helps is anyone’s guess — Mickey runs a secret side operation orchestrating breakups. He and his buddy Manu (Anubhav Singh Bassi) stage elaborate schemes on behalf of lovers who want to ditch their partners with minimal hard feelings or reputational damage.
While accompanying Manu on a trip to Spain to celebrate his engagement to Kinchi (Monica Chaudhary), Mickey falls for Kinchi’s gorgeous best friend Tinni (Shraddha Kapoor). Despite her reservations about dating a guy who’s never had to work for a boss who isn’t also his dad, Tinni and Mickey grow closer while frolicking in swimwear and cavorting about town. Both Kapoors look incredibly fit in this film, and their dance numbers are a lot of fun.
Mickey and Tinni return to Delhi and make things official, first by introducing Tinni to Mickey’s family. The Arora’s have no chill and quickly monopolize all of the couple’s time. This isn’t a problem for Mickey, but it is for Tinni. She places a call to the breakup expert — who uses a modulator to disguise his voice — and asks for help ending her relationship with Mickey.
Only in the movies would Mickey not immediately recognize his own girlfriend’s voice. More movie cliches follow once Mickey figures things out, including his professional instructions for Tinni to make Mickey jealous with a fake ex-boyfriend and to try to make Mickey cheat with her fake beautiful friend. (The fake ex and the fake friend are played by Kartik Aaryan and Nushrratt Bharuccha, respectively, who both starred in Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2).
Much of the conflict in TJMM could have been avoided had the characters simply talked to one another, but at least they are motivated by doing what they believe the other one wants. That fits with Mickey’s business ethos of trying to minimize the emotional fallout from breakups, but the couple is slow to realize that they are really only punishing themselves by not addressing their issues directly. The film is thoughtful about the way the borders of a romantic relationship extend out to encompass the families of the two people involved.
That said, TJMM is inherently conservative and too centered on Mickey. We see details of Tinni’s life only as they relate to Mickey. His family gets ample screentime, but we only get brief glimpses of Tinni’s family. While the two male friends regularly talk about their romantic relationships with one another, Tinni and Kinchi never do.
In the course of running his breakup business, Mickey spouts off a bunch of simplistic maxims about the behavior patterns of men and women that sound old-fashioned and a bit sexist. There’s also a moment where Mickey vows to get revenge on Tinni for lying to him — an unfortunate callback to the cruel revenge plots that make up the second half of Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2.
Yet despite it faults, TJMM mostly has its heart in the right place. The characters really do try to do right by one another, even when their efforts are misguided. And the film hits all the right notes for the kind of upbeat, escapist fantasy it aspires to be.