Zero Stars (out of 4)
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Calling Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (“Postmortem of Love 2“) a comedy is false advertising. It’s impossible for a movie so hateful to be funny.
Three bros — Gogo (Karthik Aaryan), Sid (Sunny Singh), and Thakur (Omkar Kapoor) — find life in their carefree bachelor pad turned upside down by the apparent source of all evil: sexy women. Faced with female sexiness, the men become unthinking automatons, doing whatever the women say, at the expense of their own happiness.
The budding romances proceed through the same gender clichés that were tired back in the 1980s: women love shopping; they don’t like sports; they have nosy friends. Presumably the scene of several women going to the restroom together was left on the cutting room floor.
Gogo’s girlfriend, Chiku (Nushrat Barucha), is a walking stereotype. She schools a disinterested Gogo on the various shades of pink, and she talks during a televised cricket match. Sid’s girlfriend, Supriya (Sonalli Sehgall), isn’t any more modern, fearing to tell her traditional parents about their relationship.
Writer-director Luv Ranjan doesn’t know what to make of Thakur’s girlfriend, Kusum (Ishita Raj). She portrayed variously as cheap, greedy, thrifty, and extravagant. The ultimate point is that she’s money-conscious, which is a no-no in Thakur’s free-spending world. He doesn’t know how much money he spends, and he doesn’t care.
All of the women’s flaws are revealed after only a few dates, so why do the men stay with them? The promise of sex. None of the women makes a promise so explicitly, but that’s presumably why the men to stick around, despite their misery.
The thing is, only Thakur and Kusum have sex regularly. Gogo and Sid wait around to collect on their promise for a year-and-a-half before realizing that, perhaps, their relationships aren’t worth it. These guys are complete idiots.
Further, not one of these guys is willing to take any responsibility for his part in these messy relationships. No one is holding a gun to their heads, making them date these women. It’s a choice. Yet the movie never assigns them any guilt.
To do so would mean that men can be flawed, which is not possible in Ranjan’s narrative. Women are the ones who are wrong, except for mothers –mothers who live and die for their sons’ happiness and love them unconditionally. If only these guys could have sex with their mothers…
When the guys finally decide to end their romances is when things get really nasty, and this orgy of hatefulness constitutes the whole of the film’s third act. Gogo is comparatively kind, only going so far as to trick Chiku into thinking he loves her before revealing that he’s been secretly recording her conversations to use against her.
Thakur mounts his high horse after Kusum suggests that he save some money and develop a plan before quitting his lucrative job to “start a website.” He takes her suggestion as a treasonous lack of support, ignoring the fact that his current job pays all the rent for the guys’ bachelor pad. Have fun living on the street with your bros, dumbass.
The darkest of the breakups is between Sid and Supriya, which is a shame since Sid is the only one of the three guys who isn’t nauseatingly smarmy. Supriya spends the night with Sid after confessing her intention to marry him. The next morning, her father — whom she fears — shows up at Sid’s door accompanied by the police.
At the station, Supriya’s father asserts that the guys drugged his daughter in order to keep her overnight, and Supriya doesn’t contradict him. Sid protests to a cop, “But she came of her own free will!” The cop replies, “No girl tells the truth here.”
How many times have those very phrases been used to discredit rape victims, to blame them for their own violation? How many times have Indian police turned away victims because they believed the women deserved it? Now, Ranjan uses the same language in a comedy film to give a spineless twerp a reason to finally dump a woman he was never going to be able to marry anyway. What a man!
If victim-blaming wasn’t bad enough, Ranjan makes a joke out of drunk driving. One of Chiku’s friends wants to drive after a night of partying, and Gogo doesn’t stop her for fear of jeopardizing his hypothetical chance of someday sleeping with Chiku. The next day, Chiku laughs about how lucky they were not to get in an accident, given how drunk her friend was. Thakur gets mad because Gogo never lets him drive the car, even when he’s sober.
Hilarious. Just hilarious. The lack of humanity in Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 is stunning.