Sharat Katariya’s second movie chronicles the perils of an arranged marriage between a scrawny cassette shop owner and a plump teacher. The match is clearly made in hell for Prem (Ayushmann Khurrana), but nobody else seems to think so, certainly not his pushy parents and least of all, his bride Sandhya (Bhumi Pednekar). Bullied by his family and pressurised by Sandhya’s willingness to make a go of a bad situation, Prem nearly cracks under the pressure. The fraught relationship between the mismatched pair is perfectly captured in a domestic spat in which mutual disgust is expressed by the husband and wife through creative DJing.
The sequence was called “the tape fight” in the screenplay, but it wasn’t initially there, just as the movie was initially not set in the 1990s, and was a comedy rather than the delicately observed drama it became, Katariya said. Dum Laga Ke Haisha had a contemporary setting, but the movie’s creative producer, Yash Raj Films’ Maneesh Sharma, pointed out that since Prem is obsessed with tapes and the music of Kumar Sanu (both signs of his stunted growth), the movie needed to be set in a time zone before CDs and streaming.
Katariya set the movie in the 1990s, and adopted a highly comic tone for the rival music playlist sequence. “But my fear was it would become like an antakshari,” he said. “I thought I would work in a conflict that would make it more organic to the plot rather than as an item sequence. I also felt that throughout the movie, there needed to be more such bizarre sequences. Most of the script flew out this sequence – we found the right tone of funny and real.”
The sequence also restored Katariya’s confidence in his leading man. Khurrana, best known for his comic turn in Vicky Donor, is surprisingly effective as the miserable small-town man who must come to terms with his failures. “I was honestly not sure about Ayushmann’s performance throughout the film,” Katariya said. “He appeared staccato in the tape fight, but it is only in the edit when I realised that he had done – he had changed his voice to suit his meek character.”
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