It was a lazy weekend morning and I decided to watch Harshwardhan Kulkarni’s Hunterrr, alone. I happened to bump into an ex-colleague and she asked me which movie I was there for. I hesitatingly replied, “Hunterrr…” and before she could respond, I was quick to ask, “And you?”. “Cinderella,” she said.
I smiled at the thought of one film belonging to fantasy genre, while the other, a male fantasy. Before she could judge me, I exchanged pleasantries and rushed towards male fantasy wala auditorium. She said she’d wait for my review, which kind of proved that she might not have judged me – just like I abstained from judging the character of Mandar Ponkshe, essayed by Gulshan Devaiah, who plays the titular role of Hunterrr. Trust me, it’s the only way you can enjoy this ‘good, but could have been great’ film. The moment you start judging Mandar or worrying about ‘female depiction’ in the movie, you’d find it difficult to sit through what transpires in those 2 hours and 21 minutes.
Branding Hunterrr as sex comedy would be a misnomer. Just because it’s about sex and it makes you laugh doesn’t make the film a sex comedy. Produced by Phantom Films and Tailormade Films, Hunterrr reflects the stage of a man’s coming to terms with his sexuality, right from that first ‘starching’ of bed sheet, the bunking of tuition to watch porn films (the iksath-baasath euphemism for masturbation is hilarious), the curiosity to ‘feel’ a woman’s body, to the ‘dil ke paas til hoga, chalo dhoondte hai’ and Savita Bhabhi sexcapades. Mandar Ponkshe’s journey is sure to evoke déjà vu sentiments among the male audience.
The highpoint of Hunterrr is surely the lead pair, Gulshan Devaiah and Radhika Apte. The actors live and breathe their characters to such perfection that after watching Hunterrr, you’d start believing that you just peeked into their personal lives. Gulshan, with his histrionics, thankfully underplays his character and doesn’t come out as a modern-day Ranjeet-the-rapist version. His ability to charm women (targeting the second best as there’s a better chance to ‘score’) and the Hunterrr’s inability to keep his gun inside the pants seems inherent to his nature, which Mandar ‘seriously’ describes something as natural as one’s bowel movement.
Sagar Deshmukh, the narrator and brother of Mandar Ponkshe isn’t your regular side-hero, but a character who won’t mind sleeping on footpath just to be with his ‘bro-friend’. Vaibhav Tavtavadi is indeed a revelation. The actor leaves enough mark on you that you’re tempted to Google ‘the actor who played Kshitij’s role in Hunterrr’. Sai Tamhankar, as the beautiful bhabhi is yet another find of Harshwardhan Kulkarni , who seems really promising as promiscuous wife (pardon the phonetic pun). Suraj Jagan as Radhika Apte’s ex-boyfriend makes his presence felt, despite the short role.
An ensemble of such talented cast ensures that you are in for some great time. Alas, the writing plays spoilsport. The second half leads Hunterrr nowhere, despite those indulgent ‘aisa maine socha tha lekin hua nahi’ kind of narrative by Gulshan Devaiah, which is used-and-abused all across the screenplay.
Hunterrr, for some strange reasons, is narrated in three time zones…wait, was it five, six? Well, am not sure because the time zones keep shuffling more than a Nolan movie. Not that I am averse to such ‘flashback ke andar flashback aur fir thoda forward’ narrative, but the only ruse is, the film’s climax doesn’t justify its jumping jack screenplay.
Writer-Director Harshwardhan Kulkarni keeps building up the ‘Shobha aunty’ wala angle, only to end up on a limp note, no pun intended. Wish Hunterrr had some ‘Stay on’ lotion smeared over its foreplay oops screenplay, for there could have been so much hardcore fun amid such interesting premise.
Cinematographer John Jacob Payyapalli lends a real tone to each frame, while Kirti Nakhwa edits the film with a no-nonsense approach. Even a steamy sex scene (there’s only one, folks) in the kitchen has been aesthetically shot and edited with restraint, without making it seem sleazy, but surely sensuous. Music by Khamosh Shah isn’t worth singing praises to, but doesn’t deter the narration either.
Nevertheless, Hunterrr is still worth a watch purely because of its earnest performances and of course, the nostalgia factor. Perhaps you’ll end up re-living those hunting days of yore. Was there a Hunterrr in you?
PS: This review got its first feedback straight from the Hunterrr Gulshan Devaiah’s mouth: