Abbas-Mustan’s new movie Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon is a throwback to the 1980s and ‘90s, when comedies featuring clandestinely bigamous and harried husbands were common enough to qualify as a sub-genre. In television star Kapil Sharma’s big-screen debut, the stakes are doubled: his character Bholu has three wives, none of whom knows about each others and none of whom he particularly cares for, as well as a girlfriend he actually loves.

This is a comedy in full meninist mode: Bholu has been forced by fate’s twisty ways into marrying a succession of women whom he made the mistake of helping in moments of distress. He is a convenient polygamist ‒ “no” is the one word that does not exist in his dictionary – and the filmmakers have considerable sympathy for the calisthenics Bholu must perform in order to fulfil the endless demands of his wives (played by Manjari Phadnis, Simran Kaur Mundi and Sai Lokur).

To introduce a semblance of order to his life, Bholu, whose source of livelihood remains a mystery from the beginning to the end, saves his wives’ numbers as “head office”, “branch office” and “area office”. The girlfriend is saved as “inquiry office”. His lawyer friend (Varun Sharma) comes up with the brilliant idea of moving all the wives into the same apartment complex (it’s called Cocktail). The movement between the spouses does briefly improve, even though two of them share a maid, but matters come to a boil when Bholu seeks to tie the knot yet again with his girlfriend (Elli Avram). There is the added complication of an unforeseen visit by his parents (played by Supriya Pathak and  Sharad Saxena).

Sharma became a television celebrity with the show Comedy Nights with Kapil for his effortless repartee and cutting humour. In Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, he has tried to show off other skills – he cries, sings, and dances in a manner of speaking – but works best when he’s belting out lines or dealing with pratfalls. He is definitely not Shah Rukh Khan, but he has some way to go before anointing himself as the new Govinda.

The sequence of Bholu darting from one wife to the next in a shopping mall while simultaneously trying to evade his future father-in-law is amusing enough in a predictable way, as is the moment when his undergarments enter the wrong apartment. Bholu’s sexual prowess is mercifully left to the imagination, but given the generally low IQ levels of his wives, it is safe to assume that they are undemanding as well as exceedingly grateful to be somebody’s missus.

Since the wives and girlfriend are conveniently beautiful and stupid, Bholu’s antics are viewed with immense empathy, and the filmmakers are careful to present Kapil Sharma in the warmest possible glow, the tables never get turned on Bholu. He gets the best lines (although Varun Sharma, from Fukrey, also has his moments), the best scenes, and the benefit of the doubt each time. The movie’s sexual politics prove that the desire to let men have all the fun hasn’t yet disappeared.