The responses to the film have been extreme.

Watch Mamas Boys is an updated take on Draupadis five-way marriage to the Pandavas
Voices Short Film Thursday, September 08, 2016 - 13:36

Akshat Verma, the director of “Delhi Belly”, has stuck his neck out with this one.

“Mama’s Boys” is a short film on the Mahabharatha, focusing on Kunti, the Pandavas and Draupadi. It’s a modern – the conservatives might say “too modern” – take on the epic, with plenty of wisecracks and innuendos.

Starring Aditi Rao Hydari, Neena Gupta, and Amol Parashar among others, “Mama’s Boys” explores the curious situation of the five Pandavas marrying the same woman, Draupadi. Though the characters are dressed in the typical king-queen costumes, they speak a mix of Hindi and English and the setting is contemporary.

Retellings of the Mahabharatha, including feminist ones, have mostly shown Draupadi to be affronted at the thought of being ‘shared’ by five men. In the film, however, she’s excited at the prospect even as Arjun (Amol) outrages at his mother’s (Neena) ridiculous insistence.

The Draupadi of “Mama’s Boys” owns her sexuality and willingly seduces the men in her life, out of desire and not duty. Too discomfiting perhaps for those of us who’re used to seeing women as only victims when it comes to lust.

Hidimba (Teena Singh), on the other hand, declares herself to be “easy” – a judgement that’s solely reserved for women and their character - and is happy to go with whatever Bheema’s (Arunoday Singh) wishes are in the bedroom. Thankfully though, she doesn’t do this because she’s so servile but because she appears to be too zoned out to care.

Neena Gupta as the controlling yet oh-so-affectionate Kunti is hilarious. Nakul (Vivaan Singh) and Sahadev (Jim Sarbh) appear as gay twins who are happy to be married to Draupadi – because they now needn’t take a bride each to please their mother.

While this does raise the question of heteronormativity as the status quo, the stereotypical depiction of the gay community could have been avoided. The elaborately effeminate gestures to represent ‘gayness’ is offensive. And if the defence is that political correctness has no place in comedy, the portrayal has become too old to be funny anyway.

At sixteen and a half minutes, “Mama’s Boys” is a short and entertaining watch. Devdutt Pattanaik, India's best-selling mythologist, tweeted his approval.

Predictably, the responses to the film have been extreme. People either love the humour or hate it for “making fun” of Hindu mythology, with many asking why such re-interpretations don’t happen with other religions. 

That is indeed a valid question – but perhaps we should take this as an opportunity to debate religious intolerance (whichever religion it might be) rather than turn it into a competition.

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