Hunterrr, not surprising that it comes from a production house that Anurag Kashyap is a part of, is an ‘I give it to you on-the-face’ cinema, that you can imagine him backing, without any pretension. With a director, not as unabashed as Harshavardhan G Kulkarni, the execution you know wouldn’t have been as much fun.
The film doesn’t bother a damn on being aesthetic or probably toning its content down. Tracing the life curve of a boy, read the one who’s sexually charged, in his early teens, it neither empathises nor demeans his voyeuristic behaviours. It’s just the way he lives, you trust, as the maker reads more into his mind than the bodily pleasures that he desires. If Mastram was the brain behind stories such as this, here’s Mandar, the potential protagonist of such works.
Switching between his early boyish adventures and his attempts to be another diplomatic man in the crowds, it’s not as if Mandar, played by the next Ranveer Singh in the town, is emotionless. His ties with childhood cousins in the early parts are shot with such a carefree vibrance. They’re kids, whom you feel are just enamoured by their sexuality more than others.
When one of them, who’s past his days where he’s just playing or toying with relationships, Mandar doesn’t understand the reason, that his cousin chooses a modest looking girl. He only finds the answer, when he meets Radhika Apte in a matter of some time that it’s the mutual connect that takes equations forward.
However, the film doesn’t miss the uncanny humour in any of the delicate situations where the boys are scared of being caught with their otherwise activities, that in cinema terms are temptingly labelled undignified. Hunterrr is at its best during the teenage phases of the protagonist, right from his half-tonsured head joke in school to the childish prank of dating the second best girl in a group.
You need to be in a zone to digest this and even if there’s awkwardness surrounding it all to begin with, the film coasts along with such a momentum, you give up on the complaints. From the part, one of the boy trio urinates only in public to his misadventures at the airport, the maker with his electric comic timing is so very sure of the elastic.
The transition of the genre from the playboy days to the phase where he comes off age is near perfect. Expectedly, it’s the second hour, where the tone fiddles between humour and true-to-life correctness. It’s yet another occasion where Harshavardhan shows his assurance and most importantly, brings to fore, the depth to make such genres work.
Radhika Apte really has something very believable in her acts. Being in her element again and with her choice of films, ranging from a Rakhta Charitra to a Dhoni to a Badlapur, she has started owning this off-beat untypical female space in Bollywood, making up for the absence of a Konkana Sen . The fact she conducts herself with dignity, balancing the notorious streaks in her parts with equal poise, you never quite suspect if another actor would’ve brought in, as much to the role.
The film in addition also rides heavily on the one-liners and it’s not gender specific on the lines of a Pyaar Ka Punchnama, but character specific. With an Udaan-like snapshot of childhood, you know the reason behind such behaviours. Hunterrr, as a result, ends up being an unconventional yet unfiltered tribute to the inconsistencies of a teenager who tries hard to strike a balance in pleasing himself and also conforming to the diktats of a society.
A high-five for Harshavardhan G Kulkarni and Phantom to pull this off!