Mannphodganj Ki Binny (MX Player and Applause Entertainment)
Rating: ***(3 stars)
How many avatars of Kangana Ranaut’s Tanu do we get to see before filmmakers of every shape and size get tired of romancing the smalltown? From Aanand Rai to Ashwini Iyer Tiwary everyone has done it. This one with a title as quirky as the smalltown rom-coms once used to be, tries hard to build a case for its heroin Binny’s sassy lunge to a fantasy-freedom. If you enjoy Binny’s daddy discussing brassieres with his daughter’s prospective groom’s family, then this one is for you.
Binny, as played by Pranati Rai Prakash, is a poor distant cousin of and Geet in Jab We Met Tanu (who doesn’t want to wed Manu) and also related to Yami Gautam’s selfie-obsessed mofussil influencer Pari in Bala. Except, here she hops skips and jumps from boyfriend to boyfriend while her parents look on with sighing indulgence. Beti jawaan, parents pareshan …that sort of thing.
Binny parents are played by the talented couple Atul Shrivastav and Alka Badola Kaushal. They are highly interchangeable with Pankaj Tripathy and Seema Bhargava, or Ratna Pathak Shah and Sanjay Mishra.All these actors have become a part of a clichéd kingdom of smalltown behavior, amusing to begin but extremely annoying in its stubborn persistence as a cinematic formula to raise laughter at the cost of the characters’ arrogant ignorance.
Binny’s father owns a lingerie shop and she insists on calling it ‘lin-giri’.You can laugh your heads off but she will refer to her Daddy as ‘Day-dee’.
The boyfriends are played by low-end model types except for the buffoonish Raja who is played by Anuraag Singh, who once was Subhash Ghai discovery. Clearly he is inspired by Aamir Khan in Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela and he seems to have fun with his role although the writing is clearly based on shallow perceptions of female empowerment in closed societies. For instance, the bride confessing to her almost-groom that she has had pre-marital sex minutes before the wedding is a highly perverse formalistic way of saying, if men can do it so can women.
Gender definition be damned, Mannphpodganj Ki Binny is just happy pleasuring itself getting turned on by its own version of middle-class liberalism.