The Hindi film mom is set in stone. She’s benign, compassionate, and forever on the verge of teary sentimentality. Well, not in Navjot Gulati’s Jai Mummy Di.
Releasing this week, the film stars Supriya Pathak and Poonam Dhillon as a pair of raucous Delhi moms. Their kids — played respectively by Sunny Singh and Sonnalli Seygall — wish to get married, something these matriarchs are up in arms against. It’s a war of the mommy superiors, set in the familiar comic world of Luv Ranjan, who has produced the film with T-Series.
“Jai Mummy Di is essentially Romeo and Juliet turned around,” says Navjot, who has directed the short films Best Girlfriend and Jai Mata Di and is making his feature debut with this one. “It’s a risky spin because on the face of it, the villain in my film is the mom. It’s not the mollycoddling, kheer-khilanewali ma people are used to watching.”
Sunny, who plays the harried son stuck between a possessive mom and a loving girlfriend, says the theme of familial conflict never falls out of fashion. “Indian moms are naturally possessive. It’s a form of unconditional love that comes out in varying expressions, from anger to tears. So the bickering is inevitable. The film pokes fun at all that, but also has an emotional story at its heart.”
Since Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (2015), Sunny has crafted a name in the romantic-comedy space, recently appearing in an extended cameo in Pati, Patni Aur Woh. “I try to be natural with my performances,” he says, “I find comedy in my day-to-day observations of young people. For instance, Jai Mummy Di is the story of a normal Delhi guy. It’s a character everyone can relate to. On set, my focus was to just be myself. No one should be able to tell I am acting in a movie.”
Like Sunny, Sonnalli is a regular in the Luv Ranjan universe. The Kolkata-raised actor made her debut in Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011); she was also in the sequel and did a cameo in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. More recently, she was seen in the stoner comedy, High Jack, and the crime drama, Setters. In Jai Mummy Di, Sonnalli plays Saanjh, a young Delhi girl trying to broker peace between the moms.
“If you remember, my character in Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, Supriya, was in a similar situation. Her parents also did not approve of her choice. However, while Supriya didn’t have the guts to rebel beyond a point, and had to lie and manipulate her way, Saanjh will go out of her way to make sure both families accept each other.”
Luv’s films have been singled out for their male-centric gaze. Not the case with Jai Mummy Di, assures Sonnalli. “It’s very different. There are no negative shades to the girl. In fact, she emerges stronger than the boy. I’m especially happy because for the first time, I get the guy. It has never happened in my previous films.”