By Subhash K. Jha
Film: “Hunterrr”; Cast: Gulshan Devaiah, Radhika Apte, Sai Tamhankar and Veera Saxena; Writer-Director: Harshvardhan Kulkarni; Rating: ***(3 stars)
The hero of Harshvardhan Kulkarni’s quirky tale of a sex addict is so unabashedly cheesy he could be a new recruit at your neighbourhood cyber cafe, assigned exclusively to pilot porn sites.
In the opening sequence our, errr, hero Mandar explains to his friends why and how intercourse is a biological need for him, like going to the bathroom.
Once you accept the leading man’s attitude to sex as a mere bodily function, much of the film’s insanely uninhibited display of libidinous appetites begins to make sense.
Mandar is an ogler, voyeur, pervert, wife-stealer and girl-friend cheater. There is nothing he wouldn’t do to hit the sack with anyone woman who cares to. The narrative moves through Mandar’s sexploits with the energetic momentum of a bull in a china shop. Though what a bull would be doing in a china shop or an ordinary guy like Mandar in the bedrooms of so many willing women, is anyone’s guess.
But Mandar is a scorer. In fact, the girl that he eventually falls in love with and marries, brings up the subject of how many women Mandar has bedded. “Ab tak chhappan?” Radhika Apte’s spicy chuckle fills the air with a feverish fornicator’s flair.
This is the kind of film where raunchy rhetoric rents the humid air, rendering every girl in sight into a commodity to be evaluated and stared down and even touched. This is ‘dirty picture’ with the dirt carpeting every move that the protagonist makes.
Thankfully, the film’s naughtiest nuggets are set in the 1990s when such voyeuristic intrusive behavior was not called stalking. Hindi films of that era endorsed unwanted male attention as flirtatious romancing.
Mandar is more into sex than romance. And he makes no bones about it. “Hunterrr” fills its soundtrack and visuals with sounds and images that are suggestive in a very casual and unostentatious way. The sharp editing takes us back-and-forth, or given the raunchy format, in-and-out of Mandar’s past and present.
Some of the episodes like the one where the young Mandar (Vedant Muchandi) is pulled up by a leery cop for watching a porn film in a seedy theatre or the one where the grown Mandar checks out chicks with his fiancee Trupti in a crowded bazaar, tend to trip over their own cleverness.
The sharp inward drawing of the breath that should have come automatically to viewers while watching Mandar drop his pants in front of sundry compliant women, just doesn’t happen. What saves the day is the warmth and honesty with which the debutant director takes Mandar on a bumpy ride through puberty and adulthood.
This is the story of a guy who thinks with his penis. The talented Gulshan Devaiah plays Mandar with a delightful absence of inhibition and artifice. Ironically, some of the film’s best moments are those where Mandar shares buddy moments with his two child pals, played effectively by Vaibhav Tavwadi and Sagar Deshmukh.
Tavwadi has portions where he abandons his Casanova lifestyle to marry an abused girl, provide a semblance of bearing and emotional resonance to a plot that seems to go everywhere, and not get anywhere.
I’m not very sure of what “Hunterrr” says about guys like Mandar who can’t keep their excitement in their pants. But yes, to its credit, the film nowhere enjoys Mandar’s lascivious behaviour. At the most, the director stands back in cautious embarrassment watching the protagonist get dangerously cheesy with women. That Mandar comes out of the amorous adventurous humanied and untarnished is entirely due to the treatment meted out to the plot by the writer and director.
Harshavardhan Kulkarni treats his horny hero’s coming-of-age film with remarkable restrain. A couple of unnecessary lovemaking scenes (check out the one in the kitchen with the couple slithering on the washbasin while the married woman’s son plays outside) apart, this is a film about a guy who can’t earn the ladies’ respect because all he has to offer is a particular part of his body.
“Hunterrr” is a disarmingly frank sex comedy that knocks off all moral policing and strips the holier-than-thou brigade to the bare essentials. You may not like Mandar’s leery behavior. But hell, some men do look at women as sex objects. And anyone who objects to sex is advised to look away.