BOTTOM LINE: A Rustic Comedy That’s Uneven but Immensely Entertaining
|Platform: MX Player||Genre: Comedy|
What Is the Story About?
Binny Bajpai is a free-spirited youngster, hailing from the Mannphodganj suburb of Prayagraj. She’s eager to meet the man of her dreams though worldly wisdom isn’t clearly what she possesses. The local politician’s son Rahul Pandey is the apple of her eye – romance blossoms between the two but the girl fails to see through Rahul’s commitment woes within the relationship. Meanwhile, a family friend’s son Tarun expresses his interest in Binny, despite the latter’s disinterest in reciprocating to his advances. A good-hearted wastrel Raja gets close to Binny’s father Brajesh in the pretext of getting closer to her daughter. Sparks fly between Binny and Harsh, a match that the parents finalise for her through an acquaintance. Who is Binny destined to marry?
The actors are the reason why the Mannphodganj ki Binny universe is alluring. Pranati Rai Prakash in a role with various shades, where she has to be slightly foolish, vivacious and firm at the same time, plays the part with an infectious effervescence. However, the show-stealers are her on-screen parents, Atul Srivastava and Alka Chauhan who are a hoot with their sparkling screen presence and comic timing. Most of their punchlines land well and they never oversell their parts or attempt to make it loud, which makes their presence all the more appealing.
It certainly seems like actor Anurag Sinha has enjoyed playing Raja – though his dialogue delivery and timing remind us of Pankaj Tripathi. Fahmaan Khan doesn’t have much to do as Rahul, while the director lends an interesting twist to the role of Samar Vermani as Harsh. Abhinav Anand makes a mark despite his brief appearance.
Mannphodganj is an interesting name for a suburb that serves as a backdrop for a tale about a girl who isn’t quite ready for a long term relationship yet. The narrator introduces that the region is full of men who have suffered heartbreak (explaining the ‘mann phod’ aspect of the title), but incidentally, the story is told through the eyes of a naïve, young woman. The show is flavourful in capturing the small-town dynamics of Uttar Pradesh through sharp dialogue, flawed characters and edgy sequences. It is delightfully unapologetic about its silliness. The director makes smart use of humour to convey serious issues and never lets the show take a melodramatic trajectory.
It isn’t easy to portray a protagonist who’s two-timing men at the time, and yet not be judgemental about it in the storytelling. The show neither glorifies nor slut-shames her – the director is successful in projecting that she’s merely confused (one wonders if the tone would have been as objective if a similar character was a man). The world around her is as interesting. Binny’s father Brajesh owns a lingerie shop, pronounces it as ‘lingiri’ and discusses the specifics of his store in the most unusual situations (for instance – at the house of his daughter’s would-be). However, there’s no crassness in the tone. Kumud’s (Binny’s mom) interactions with God and her never-ending wishlist, the gossips with her maid, the politics she plays to get her daughter married to the man of her choice are wackily funny.
Though the narrative mildly suggests that middle-class men in small-towns are the right material to be an ‘adarsh pati’ over the rich spoilt brats in a metropolis, Mannphodganj ki Binny at least doesn’t generalise all men as desperate flirts (just because the story is about a woman). The banal story aside and although the show would have been more free-flowing had it been shorter by an episode or two, the imaginatively written situations keep you glued to the proceedings. One wonders if the entire Delhi episode where the protagonist is ‘nearly’ raped could have been scrapped. The script could have ideally found a smarter stretch for the protagonist to realise her imprudence.
Mannphodganj ki Binny is mostly entertaining and has a terrific ending, though consistency isn’t its strength. The wastrel Raja’s persistent attempts to woo Binny get irritating beyond a point. The sex-scandal episode revolving around the local politician doesn’t contribute much to the story. The show would have also fared better without the character of the childhood friend Tarun (the actor Aru Krishansh Verma brings the niceness in the role well though). The director’s real success lies in distracting the audience from the obvious follies in the storytelling and using the eccentricities and quirks of his characters to impressive effect. The simplistic small-town charm, the choice of bright (sometimes loud) colours to liven the frames are other aspects that lend appeal to this world.
Music and Other Departments?
There’s enough peppiness in the background score to match the energy of the performances – some folksy touch to the music would have worked even better for the show. The drama and the exaggeration in the story reflect in the use of the vibrant colours that keep the mood of the show always upbeat – the makers have figured out a way to visually uplift the series despite its production limitations. The show is edited smartly, especially with the way each episode begins – it only helps us appreciate the writing even more.
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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