Vivah is a big surprise. Why? Because itís actually entertaining. Considering how hackneyed Hum Saath Saath Hain and how pathetic Main Prek Ki Deewani Hoon were, not much could really have been expected from Vivah. From the promotions, all the viewer can tell is: the music by Ravinder Jain is plain-out atrocious and the lyrics sound like they belong in a bad Govinda flick; Shahid and Amrita look amazing together (they look so good on screen, you would be quite happy to see them together in real likeósorry Kareena). That being said, Sooraj Bartjatya comes up with the best, cheesiest family flick weíve seen in a long time without sending us back to the 1940s.
But letís face it: had Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Maine Pyaar Kiya been released in todayís Bollywood, they would have not have become the classics they are. Vivah will never become a classicóit has nothing new going for it. Nothing to draw audiences for repeat viewing. Maine Pyaar Kiya was revolutionary in that romantic movies did not fare well against action movies in those days; it changed the very face of Bollywood. Moreover, it took us on a journey from friendship to relationship (cheesy once again, but never done so convincingly before). Hum Aapke Hain Kaun showed people how to get married, literally.
Vivah is the journey from engagement to wedding, of course, between Prem (what else could he be named?), played by Shahid Kapoor, and Poonam (maybe Nisha would have worked here), played by Amrita Rao. Their wedding is arranged in as desi a manner as possible, without looking completely orchestrated. Premís family consists of his father (Anupam Kher), his bhaiya-bhabhi (Samir Soni and Lata Sabbarwal) and bhatija. Poonam is an orphan, cherished by her Chacha (Aloknath) and cousin Chotti (Amrita Prakash). However, her cousin isnít much of a looker when compared to Poonam. This has always made Chachi (Seema Biswas) hate Poonam. Of course, our heroine is tyaag ki devi and can do anything to make her Chachi happy.
All is lovey-dovey until Chachi refuses to take part in Poonamís wedding celebrations and customs. Then, to add icing to the cake, Poonam and Premís love is put to the ultimate test by a freak accident.
Did you notice somethingóno extended families! That right there is a reason to rejoice. You donít have to construct a mental family tree so see which relative is saying what. The smaller families allow each character to contribute to the enjoyment of the story. They cannot contribute to the plot because there really isnít much of one. Thereís only enough content in the film to sustain a one-hour TV flick. The rest is all filler. Whatís great is that itís all so entertaining. Once you get passed how perfect and sweet everyone but the Chachi is, the movie is simple, lovey-dovey and makes you feel like the whole world is a beautiful place and everyone will have a happy ending. Escapist cinema at itís finest.
Thus, you really have to give Bartjatya credit. He can keep you entertained without story development for 2 hours. Also, he uses Ravinder Jainís horrible score such that you pay more attention to what you see, rather than what you hear. Thank you!
The dialogues reflect a modern approach to arranged marriage without becoming a lecture. The movie doesnít require much in the technical department and not much is done there either. Editing a song or two would be nice (if not to save our ears, then at least to make the film smoother).
The cast is also perfectly selected. Today, there is no better looking Bollywood jodi than Shahid and Amrita. Their chemistry is simply amazing. They are equally as impressive in scenes without each other. Their roles might be simple, but they are very far-fetched, so to pull them off with such conviction is most commendable. Amrita is the one with the better role (all the conflict surrounds her character) and truly becomes the small-town beauty. But Shahid really leaves his mark in the climax and is great as a love-sick puppy.
Aloknath and Anupam Kher perfected their Rajshri personas during Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and are as expected. Lata Sabbarwal is perfect as the ideal jethani. After seeing her villain on TV, you are really surprised at how at ease she as a good girl. Samir Soni is a natural. He also shares great chemistry with Sabbarwal. Amrita Prakash is another import from TV land who gets a lengthy role and flies with it.
For Ms. Biswas, Vivah is VERY different. She is best known for movies of higher quality and greater substance (Bandit Queen, Khamoshi, Company, Ek Haseea Thi, Pinjar, Water). To see her as the evil-spirited Chachi is immensely refreshing. It goes without saying that even if she sleepwalked through the role, she still would have been better than Bartjatya regulars like Remma Lagoo and Himani Shivpuri.
I canít think of a better way to forget your problems than watching a movie in which there is only one bad person. And I canít think of a movie that pulls it off better than Vivah.