In the 1970s, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee narrated simple stories revolving around simpletons. Striking that right balance between humor and emotions, the stories left an indelible impression since the aam junta, even at grassroots level, could identify with the goings-on.
Director Chandan Arora, who attempted one such story in MAIN MADHURI DIXIT BANNA CHAHTI HOON, once again narrates a story of a nobody [actually, it could be anybody amongst us] and how his insecurities surface soon after his marriage to an attractive woman. The film makes you smile, laugh, even empathize with the goings-on.
But the reason why the cinema of Mukherjee and Chatterjee worked and Arora's latest endeavor stumbles is because MAIN MERI PATNI AUR WOH runs out of stamina by the time it reaches its finale. It stagnates after a point, in the post-interval portions specifically, since there's not much to look forward to.
Resultantly, what stays with you is not the film in entirety, but a sparkling performance by Rajpal Yadav. And that's not good for the film since the viewer ought to carry an entire film back home, not just one aspect. Besides, this one-track story of an insecure husband is ideal for a tele-film, not for the big screen, with a running time of 2 + hours... sans glamour and star appeal!
MAIN MERI PATNI AUR WOH tells the story of a bachelor, Mithilesh [Rajpal Yadav], a librarian with the University of Lucknow, who does not want to be bound by marriage. But he succumbs to family pressure and agrees to see a girl in Bareilly. Thus, Mithilesh comes face to face with Veena [Rituparna Sengupta].
Mithilesh finds himself captivated by the pretty, charming and educated Veena, who is a few inches taller than him. Surprisingly, Veena gives the nod and consents to the marriage. Mithilesh is thrilled, so is his family.
But there's trouble in paradise! Every compliment paid to his wife and every interaction of his wife with any male begin to haunt Mithilesh and remind him more and more about his lack of height and ordinary looks and his wife's beauty and charm.
Mithilesh now finds himself trying to outdo or at least outsmart every potential competitor right from his milkman to his best friend Salim [Varun Badola] and even the local rickshaw driver Hussain. He even gets into an argument with a vegetable vendor when he offers tomatoes at any price that Veena will decide.
At this juncture, walks in Akash [Kay Kay Menon], who is everything that Mithilesh aspires to be -- tall, smart, a complete livewire. Akash and Veena are friends and they enjoy each other's company. And Mithilesh finds himself to be a stranger when the two get together.
Mithilesh's inferiority complex start troubling him and he starts reading books, goes for exercises, even visits a local quack to increase his height. If that isn't enough, he learns to even drink and smoke like Akash. Finally, Mithilesh decides Veena deserves someone like Akash, someone definitely better than him. And from hereon, life takes a twist for this young man!
MAIN MERI PATNI AUR WOH could've been one enjoyable ride, but after a promising start, you suddenly realize that the vehicle has run out of gas. Just about everything is well laid out in the first hour itself, right from Rajpal's first meeting with Rituparna to the reasons that instill an inferiority complex in him.
But a film that promises a refreshingly different tale in the first hour succumbs to mediocrity in the next hour. With the arrival of Kay Kay on the scene, there was scope to make the proceedings much more lively and interesting, but what's served to you is something you've savored so many times before.
MAIN MERI PATNI AUR WOH gathers momentum during the concluding reels, but at this stage, you actually know what the finale is going to be like. There's no denying that the film reaches an all-time high in the penultimate sequence when Rajpal weeps and apologizes for his folly [brilliantly executed and enacted], but how one wishes the writers would've packed the screenplay with as many fascinating twists.
Chandan Arora deserves a pat for attempting a different story, but it's the screenplay [in the latter part] that spoils the show. Also, the pacing is so slow in the post-interval portions that the viewer is bound to feel restless. Cinematography [Jehangir Chowdhary] is a notch above the ordinary. The songs are a deterrent; ideally, this should've been a songless film!
One reason why MAIN MERI PATNI AUR WOH works is because the actors are all perfect for their chosen parts. One of the finest talents undeniably, Rajpal Yadav contributes enormously in making the role of a simpleton come alive. You sympathize with his character mainly because the actor has mastered the nuances of acting so perfectly.
Seen after a hiatus in Hindi films, Rituparna Sengupta is akin to a breath of fresh air. Her contribution to MAIN MERI PATNI AUR WOH is as much vital as Rajpal Yadav's. Kay Kay is first-rate, although his role is sidelined towards the climax. Varun Badola is another bright actor who deserves to be seen more in films. Vinod Nagpal [the uncle] leaves an impression. Naseeruddin Shah's voiceover [at the start and the end] is a plus factor.
On the whole, MAIN MERI PATNI AUR WOH is a decent entertainer that could've been an engaging fare had it not been for a mediocre second half. It might appeal to a handful of critics [in awe of such cinema], but definitely not the common man who decides the fate of a film. At the box-office, the film is likely to go unnoticed thanks to its wrong release period and no face-value. Releasing the film with barely a week/10 days of promotion and that too during the holy month of Ramadan [a sizable chunk of moviegoers abstain from watching movies] and also Navratri doesn't auger well for any film, big or small. At the ticket window, therefore, MAIN MERI PATNI AUR WOH will go unsung.