Hunterrr marks the directorial debut of Harshvardhan Kulkarni, the writer of Sidharth Malhotra-Parineeti Chopra’s ‘Hasee Toh Phasee.’ Like the latter, ‘Hunterrr’ bears a very ‘real’ look. The film traces the journey of Mandar Ponkshe, a testosterone-charged man, from the time he was a 12-year-old dealing with his newly discovered sexual drive to a middle-aged man shuffling between lust and love.
After being a self-proclaimed ‘Vaasu’ (playboy) for years, Mandar Ponkshe (Gulshan Devaiah) falls in love with Trupti (Radhika Apte), a girl whom he has been asked to meet by his family for a prospective alliance between the two of them. Mandar wants to confess his feelings to Trupti and settle down in life. But, that’s easier said than done. Trupti is being pursued by her ex-boyfriend Chax (Suraj Jagan) and Trupti does not seem to make her mind about marriage. Mandar has also kept Trupti in the dark about his encounters with women as he fears Trupti would not accept him after he comes out with the truth.
In numerous Hindi films, we have come across male characters depicted as playboys; the ones who run after women all the time. But, most of these characters are shown to have come from influential families with all the money in the world. However, Mandar Ponkshe is this geeky, slightly awkward guy who comes from a middle-class background. Writer-director Harshavardhan Kulkarni creates a character who is lust-driven and is always on the prowl looking for a girl/woman to quench his thirst for sex. Now, one could easily despise a character like this but Harshavardhan gives the character multiple layers that make it likable. The fact that the film constantly moves back and forth in time could confuse some viewers but it works well with the context of the film.
Sneaking into a theatre to watch an adult film, the first girlfriend, trying out ways to impress women, dating two women at the same time –there are several moments in the film with which a lot of young men would relate to. A large portion of the film is set in the late 80s and early-mid 90s. The era has been recreated very effectively which evokes a sense of nostalgia.
It’s the second half in which the director gets a little self-indulgent and incorporates some scenes that only add to the runtime. The death of one of Mandar’s friends brings to fore his emotional side. But, the sequence seems like being forced in the narrative because of the way it has been executed. The imaginative situations irritate and should have been done away with. Apart from these blemishes, there is not much to complain about the second half either. The climax is good. The revelation that Trupti makes about her relationship with Chax adds a lot of depth to the proceedings.
Gulshan Devaiah gets a meaty role and he makes the most of it. The character he plays lusts after women and even makes racist comments but the actor, with good support from the director, helps in making him come across as endearing and likable. Radhika Apte looks very pretty and delivers a very natural performance as a progressive young woman. Sai Tamhankar’s character has many layers to it and she brings out the sadness of a lonely housewife and the boldness of a woman willing to get into an extramarital affair with equal ease. Sagar Deshmukh (as Dilip) pitches in with a fine performance. Veera Saxena is adorable as Parul and leaves a mark in a brief role. Suraj Jagan is good as Chax.
Harshavardhan Kulkarni makes a very promising debut as a director. He chooses a unique but fairly risky subject that could have gone terribly wrong. But, his vision, both as a writer and director, was very clear and it shows. Each and every character in the film has been sketched out with a lot of careful detailing. The narrative in the second half should have been more coherent but nevertheless, the scenes that work more than makeup for the ones that don’t. The dialogues (Harshavardhan Kulkarni and Vijay Maurya) are absolutely delightful and crack you up.
The music (Khamosh Shah) is good. The songs have been used in the right junctures and hence, are impactful. The background (Hitesh Sonik) is very impressive. The costumes (Tanaya Oak) are in sync with the characters in the film. The editing (Kriti Nakhwa) could have been better as certain scenes in the second half drag on endlessly. John Jacob Payapalli’s camerawork is good.
Hunterrr is a charming, delightful film that depicts an ordinary man’s journey as he goes about looking for some action. The film looks at things in a lighter vein and does not offend your senses. There are some scenes that some people may find offensive but when you look at the larger picture, it all fits in. Join Mandar Ponkshe in his adventures; you will most likely come out of the theatres smiling!