Compelling performances are the saving grace of Hunterrr, an otherwise unsatisfying tale of a playboy who won’t grow up.
Hunterrr isn’t as colorfully sexy as its poster suggests. Gulshan Devaiah plays Mandar, a thirty-something man on the good-looking side of average with all the style acumen of stereotypical IT guy. He’s a lech who sizes up every woman he sees, planning his next conquest.
Since he’s no supermodel himself, Mandar has a method for improving his odds: don’t pursue the most attractive woman in a group; go for second best. Second best is still good, but her self-esteem is likely lower than that of her lovelier counterpart, making her more susceptible to flattery.
Only when Mandar gets called “uncle” while hitting on a woman at a bar does he realize he’s getting too old to play Casanova. He reasons that an arranged marriage guarantees him a permanent sex partner, but he finds his promiscuous habits hard to break even after he meets his betrothed: fun, beautiful Tripti (Radhika Apte).
Hunterrr is told in non-linear fashion, flashing back to Mandar’s early days as a pervert. Scenes of young Mandar with his cousins — handsome Kshitij (Vaibbhav Tatwawdi) and chubby Yusuf (Sagar Deshmukh) — are primarily excuses for scatological jokes. Writer-director Harshavardhan Kulkarni punctuates the comic sex romp with awkwardly serious moments, making it hard to feel comfortable with the film’s tone.
This is a tough movie to enjoy largely because Mandar is so awful. He never faces any serious consequences for his behavior, and he assumes no responsibility for the consequences faced by the women he beds. When Yusuf points out that a housewife Mandar’s been shtupping is on her way to divorce court after her husband discovered the affair, Mandar just shrugs and leaves town.
Credit to Devaiah for playing such a believable sociopath. He makes Mandar seem so ordinary, non-threatening even, until we realize how little Mandar cares about other people. The film even ends with Mandar cheerfully explaining to Yusuf that he’ll get away with his latest transgression because most women are too embarrassed to admit to any kind of sexual contact, consensual or not.
Tripti is as charming as Mandar is loathsome. She’s frank about her own romantic history, with a slightly bawdy sense of humor. Like Devaiah, Apte’s performance is grounded and convincing. She’s the real star of the film.
Kulkarni is great at writing complex female characters, whether it’s Tripti in Hunterrr or Meeta in Hasee Toh Phasee. Here’s hoping his future films focus more on his sophisticated heroines than on the dopey guys he saddles them with.