VIRILE male heroes have long been a feature of Bollywood films, but a new movie tackles a rarely talked about issue in patriarchal India erectile dysfunction.
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan is the latest Hindi-language movie to centre on serious health subjects not normally associated with Bollywood.
A recent film spotlighted India’s chronic lack of toilets, while an upcoming movie tells the story of a man who invents a ma-chine that produces cheap sanitary towels.
They are part of a trend for making male protagonists more human, in contrast to older Bollywood films where ultra-macho men punching rivals through walls during elaborate fight scenes was common.
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan director RS Prasanna said he wanted to use the taboo subject of impotence to tackle wider issues of patriarchy and conservative values that dominate Indian society.
“I was interested in making a wedding film in which the love story happens in an arranged marriage,” Prasanna said.
“Then I began to explore the idea that if a conservative couple in an arranged match start getting naughty with each other before marriage, what would happen if he couldn’t get it up in the bedroom?
“Erectile dysfunction became a starting point for larger issues,” he added.
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan is the story of a couple who find love despite being in an arranged marriage. It stars
Ayushmann Khurrana (left) as a young man who suffers from performance anxiety in the bedroom.
The movie is a remake of the 2013 Tamil-language comedy Kalyana Samayal Sadham (Wedding Feast), which Prasanna also directed.
He drew inspiration from his time spent as a stay-at-home husband. “Many women in my neighbourhood looked down upon me because my wife was working and I was making dinner for her. Those women were content with their patriarchal husbands,” Prasanna said.
“In my film, I have replaced financial impotence with sexual impotence… Being a man is not about standing up in bed, but standing up for an issue or standing up for your woman,” he added.
The film carries a U/A parental guidance certificate.