Yesterday I saw TJMM, despite all the reservations I had against what I had hear about the plot of the movie. I have seen the earlier movies directed by Luv Ranjan. I have not appreciated the context in which women are placed and the way their wants and desires are not taken into account whatsoever.
As such, this movie does not deviate much from this formula. But it gives the heroine a brighter mind and a more valuable heart than the hero. The heroine is a strong-minded, independent woman. Pursued by a man who is linked to his family and is entitled by the worth of his own masculinity. The masculinity becomes toxic, eventually, because as an Indian man he is not willing to give up his comfort for the woman he professes to love, above all.
In the case of all love relationships, the couple fall in love with each other, and in the throes of any romantic endeavour they focus on just themselves. Eventually, though, the world steps in. When one has a relationship with someone, one is initially completely focused on the partner. The partners live and love in a cocoon, untouched by the outside world. The moment they make their promises to each other, in the vacuum of this protected space, they feel confident enough to step out of it. But once the world begins its interaction with them again, it is then that the promises come to be tested. And more often than not, the world is heavier than the couple. The promises falter and finally, shatter.
This is what happens with the couple in TJMM. Rohan pursues Nisha. He professes his undying love and makes his promises. She falls in love after this courtship. He introduces her to his family. They take over the relationship. As is the wont of most Indian families, the family becomes overwhelming with its superciliousness and entitlement.
When Rohan and Nisha’s families meet, we understand her desires. Her aunt asks her how she fell in love with a man who is from a “business family” when she wanted a man with a salaried job. Because as most Indians know, children that are brought up to take care of their own family businesses are bound to the infrastructure of that dynamic. There is never any independence. It is like Princess Margaret who wanted to love a commoner but did not wish to stop being a Royal. It’s a nepotism that must be agreeable to all.
In the wake of their overzealousness and their taking over her life, Nisha decides to call it quits. Because she doesn’t want to be in the space where she wants to make Rohan choose between his family and her. The director – intentionally or unintentionally – gives her character a human conflict. She realizes that she will never be a priority in his life – no matter how much she wants him to make her one. So she decides to break it off.
The subplot of his being a “match-breaker” is relevant only to create comic interludes. Without Ranbir Kapoor’s acting prowess, the character of Rohan would have been terribly insipid. But he, as always, pulls the character forward effortlessly. He is always brilliant to watch. Shraddha gives no surprises, she has done a good enough job, but I cannot help but question how Alia would have fared in this role. Dimple gives good slaps, Boney Kapoor is irrelevant. The best side character was Nisha’s mother. Ayesha Mishra has always been brilliant. She has about five minutes of screen time. But the burden of having no agency in her family is depicted beautifully, as she speaks to her daughter about her decision. Her mother’s unfulfilled life is the reason why Nisha wants to branch away from another joint family.
The end is bittersweet for Nisha. But most viewers won’t understand this. It becomes Nisha’s movie, because she is the one who actually loves – because true love is always tested by sacrifice. One party always gives up more than the other. In this case, in the climax, she tells Rohan the reason why she didn’t want to be with him. She did not want to give up her own agency to fit into another joint family. She wanted to be his first priority, not his 7th, to which he himself admits. He refuses to do so. He leaves. And she leaves.
But his family intervenes – they decide again what he should do. Again. And he falls in line. Again. He should have let her go. He had actually. But his family says no, you must have the toy that kept you happy. There is a classic airport scene, but with the entire family, instead of just the two lovers. It is directed well, every one discussing their own mistakes. It is a fun watch, mostly because I am a die-hard romantic myself (sucks for me), but the realist in me also reared his head and felt terribly sad for Nisha. She accepts her lover’s family and her lover – who will always place her 7th in his life.
I also know through bitter experience that this placement will never change for Rohan. Even if the ones he places before her die, she will always remain 7th, because death is never a leveller when it comes to matters of love. It outlasts death, and that is the tragedy of this movie and the mentality that gives it validation.