Dhoka, sex and love - it’s all there strewn in the 2 lugubrious long hours of the unspooling of this tale of adultery and extramarital affairs. Mr. Singh Mrs. Mehta, debutant director Pravesh Bharadwaj’s slow-paced ode to infidelity is strictly for those with penchant and patience for arthouse cinema.
Mr. Singh (Naved Aslam) and Mrs. Mehta (Lucy Hassan) are having an extramarital affair without the slightest pang of guilt. But, despite the title, the movie is not their story. It’s the story of their spouses - Mrs. Singh and Mr. Mehta.
Mrs. Singh (Aruna Shields), an agony aunt columnist, is obviously agonized upon discovering her husband’s infidelity. But she doesn’t confront him with the truth. On the other hand, Mr. Mehta (Prashant Narayanan), a painter, is blissfully blasé about his wife sleeping around with another man.
Proceedings become interesting when Mrs. Singh and Mr. Mehta meet. Cheated upon by their partners, they first seek solace in each other’s company, but later their liaison spirals into something murkier and racier when she begins walking around naked in his studio and her nudity stimulates...err...inspiration in Mr. Painter.
What next! A nude Aruna Shields, with her modesty covered only by intrusive blurs and pixels, walks in and out of frames, dozes in the painter’s studio (inspiring the viewers to do the same) and poses for his paintings. While the painter himself, visibly sedated or perhaps drugged (what the heck was in those joints he keeps rolling?), keeps doodling his nude muse onto canvases. And lo! Before they know it they are an item themselves.
So, is it a case of crisscrossed adultery, an unintentional spouse swapping? Well, not as simple as that. Director Pravesh Bharadwaj leaves an open end for the viewers to exercise their own brain muscles and draw their own conclusions, not something Bollywood patrons are used to.
Of the actors, Prashant Narayanan clearly stands out with his otherworldly aura. Brit hottie Aruna Shields’ performance is marred by her painful attempt at getting her Hindi dialogues right. Lucy Hassan, another Brit, isn’t much better. Naved Hassan is comfortable in his marginal role.
Mr. Singh Mrs. Mehta doesn’t provide any insight into infidelity or relationship complexities. It’s a simple tale of couples who aren’t sure of their feelings and eventually find themselves in a cobweb of illicit relations. Watch it if you must for the understated chemistry between Aruna and Prashant and the lilting music score by Ustad Shujat Hussain Khan.