Among the many takeaways of “Mama’s Boys”, a deliciously subverted 16-minute take on the “Mahabharata” is the late Razaak Khan as Shakuni Mama egging on a debauched sodden Yudhishthir to lose money in the gambling den.
Akshat Varma, who last had a blast tickling our crotch (pardon the vulgarity) in “Delhi Belly”, is back with a short film that is bound to raise quite a few eyebrows. Varma’s take on the polyandry of the “Mahabharata” is so rich in satire and so tongue-in-cheek. one has to be a supreme spoilsport to fault it for blasphemy.
But sigh…giggle… ahem… Varma dares the unthinkable in this day and age of sanctimonious rage when saffron is the colour that determines all our moves. Here is a fantastically twisted… And yet curiously logical and rational look at the timeless mythology.
It starts with Arjun (played by an endearingly vulnerable Amol Parasher) bringing home Draupadi while mom Kunti (Neena Gupta) cooks ‘tindas’ in the kitchen.
Draupadi, as played by the radiant Aditi Rao Hydari, looks definitely more inviting than the ‘tindas’. And even the Pandavas agree on that, at least one Pandava, Bheem (Arunodoy Singh) seems hopelessly horny as Draupadi at the gym (if you please!) comes on so strongly, you suspect she is not very happy with just having Arjun around.
Amol Parasher as Arjun is almost as if he hopes his brothers would share instead of just stare at Draupadi.
Yudhishsthir (played with a sinister kala chashma and an indecipherable scowl by the underrated Akshay Oberoi) couldn’t care less. He is not disinterested in Draupadi’s oomph. Just more interested in gambling.
Sahdev (Jim Sarbh, the terrorist from ‘Neerja’ brilliantly bang-on as the sardonic son who is not interested in Draupadi in ‘that’ way) and Nakul (Vivaan Shah) are into other things.
There is a fabulously funny scene in a shopping mall where the ever-seductive Draupadi tells her giggly gal pal that she only has to deal with three lustful husbands, not five. This is said with Draupadi eyeing a male mannequin’s lingerie-selling bottoms.
Mama Kunti is of course the last to know. Oblivious of their preference, she tells Nakul and Sahdev that she is getting them married, to twin daughters, if you please.
Sarbh, who is possibly the best of the brilliant cast, gives his mom a befitting reply. “Maa, main khushi se paagal ho gaya.”
We can’t go that far in our appreciation of Varma’s rigorously revisionist look at a revered mythology. But full marks to this long-legged luscious and hilarious short film for leaping into an arena that most would avoid in this day and age.
Thankfully, some spirit survives even in this era of castrated cheekiness. And for that, this short film deserves three stars.
By Subhash K. Jha