I make it no secret that I hold Rajat Kapur and his brand of cinema in high regard, be it his directional debut RAGHU ROMEO or his last venture MITHYA. In between Kapur delivered this refreshing, witty, honest and very funny urban comedy about a middle-class indian couple who decide to try…swinging!
In the hands of anyone else this could’ve turned in to a shameless sex comedy where the emphasis is on lewd and crude jokes. In the hands of Kapur and his team the movie is a classy comedy with ample doses of every-day humour and some very identifiable characters.
The story by Rajat Kapur himself revolves around a young couple in their early 30’s; Sunil (Ranvir Shourie) and Malti (Konkona Sen Sharma) who live in Mumbai with their young son. On face value the couple have everything that should make a happy marriage; double income one kid, a nice apartment, decent job, some good friends, and all the luxuries of life. However one thing is clear, the sexual spark that was there in the early years of marriage is now clearly missing as Sunil is lacking his “mojo”. It’s driving Sunil up the wall…until his American return friend put the idea of wife swapping aka “swinging” in to his head, and a adamant Sunil is dying to experiment at any costs. Malti thinks Sunil is going mad and is completely against the idea, however Sunil slowly manages to convince her. Sunil and Malti meet-up with another couple who are more experienced and have done this before; Vinod (Rajat Kapur) and Kalpana (Koel Purie). The couples decide to meet over dinner and drinks…however does the night go as planned?
The first thing that strikes one about Kapur’s story is it’s sheer honest and realism. The scenes in the movie are straight out of everyday life, and it’s Kapur’s ability to write such a entertaining “slife-of-life” that really makes MIXED DOUBLES work. The theme at hand is indeed bold, but the manner in which the story has been written makes it identifiable to the viewer, and despite the boldness of the subject matter this is essentially a tale about an ordinary couple trying to salvage their marriage through some desperate measures. However if there is a culprit here it’s the screenplay. The movie is simply fantastic up to the final 30 minutes, from the point the couples finally meet til the end the movie does slumber and the end does come across as very rushed. It’s as If the writers didn’t know how to end the film? Or to clarify the consequences of the events any further which would’ve no doubt made for some superb dramatic moments in the tale.
As a director Rajat Kapur is one whom I’ve aways greatly admired. A man of vision who knows how to take a story and tell is superbly wel. He isn’t a “showy showman” ala Subhash Ghai nor does he try to be. His greatest ability is to take a relatively simple story on paper, and bring out the complexities of the subject matter without over-complicating the movie. It’s been his single strength through his first movie to his last. MIXED DOUBLES in some ways is his weakest effort simply because the crucial 30-35 minutes of the finale come across as a disappointment. Ranvir’s outburst is as expected once he finds out Konkona has slept with Rajat (this was bound to happen given what a “baby” Ranvir’s character was shown from the start, and Rajat is perfect in bringing out the “it’s a mans world” philosophy of things). However the finale is less than desired. Even the sequences between Ranvir and Koel comes across as a means for some lame laughs which never quiet hit the right mark. Why does Koel’s character behave the way she does? Also it would’ve been good to see explored what finally pushes Konkona over the line to sleep with Rajat.
The dialogues in the movie by Anurag Kashyap and Rajat Kapur deserve a special mention as they elevate the movie in countless places. Funny, poignant, and VERY real, they are no doubt one of the films greatest assets.
The performances in the movie are ace, and feature all of Kapur’s usual suspects(including himself).
Ranvir Shourie is an actor I hold in a very high regard after his performance in this years MITHYA which to my mind still remains the finest male performance of 2008. In earlier films like KHOSLA KA GHOSLA, PYAAR KE SIDE EFFECTS and TRAFFIC SIGNAL he proved his brilliance, however in MITHYA he took his talents and abilities to another level. MIXED DOUBLES in that retrospect plays on all of Shourie’s strengths. It’s essentially a comic role with a lot of heart and sou, and in many ways an extension of Shourie’s Naanu act in PYAAR KE SIDE EFFECTS. His delivery and facial expressions are bang-on each time.
Konkona Sen Sharma is magnificent (when is she not?). As the wife in a dilemma due to her husbands demanding and babyish manner she hits all the right notes, and shares some superlative chemistry with Shourie.
Rajat Kapur is OK in a small role. Koel Purie’s character needed to be written better. Saurabh Shukla lends fabulous support as always. Vinay Patthak is a knock-out in a small role. Nasserdian Shah is efficient as always.
Sagar Desai’s music is good. Technically the movie is well done and in sync with the movies story and budget. Rafey Mehmood’s camerawork gels with the mood of the film perfectly.
All up MIXED DOUBLES is a refreshing, engaging, funny, witty and original story that is well worth a watch despite it’s flaws.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10.0