The much awaited āRab ne bana di jodiā lives up to itās hype - well almost. A film by director Aditya Chopra, this one is a romance. Itās meant to be one of those romances where we are persuaded to believe that true love comes because of inner, and not outer beauty (I could contest this genre by pointing out that such stories abound when the guy is the geek, and the girl is quite beautiful, if not Ms. Universe herself - after all how many times in desi films have you seen a geeky girl get the guy?).
I wonāt give too much of the film away - but here are the basics. In the face of tragedy, Taani (Anushka) is unexpectedly married off to geeky Surinder Sahni (SRK). She had hoped to marry her sweet-heart, but married to a boring Surinder, she resigns herself to a life of being a dutiful wife. Lively Taani loses her spark, but the love she thought sheād never feel again is awakened when she meets funny, young Raj . . .
The filmās story places it squarely in sadda Punjab, in Amritsar to be precise. Itās a far cry from Switzerland, and the breath-taking locales of Europe are replaced her by the narrow gallis of Sahniās town. However the scenery is still colorful, the skies still blue, and the shots still beautifully composed. The glitz and glamour of a regular YRF film are a little toned down and the item-numbers have to be disguised as acts in a dance competition.The direction is strong as always, and Chopra is more careful than usual when sketching out his characters.
Surinder Sahni (Suri) is delineated out with affection. He is boring and staid and a creature of habit. A simple man, he loves his new wife with all his heart. Hers, body and soul, he offers himself up to her, to do with as she pleases (only she canāt see it). Sodden and soaked in a love, which he is too shy to reveal, he is afraid that she will never love him (she tells him as much). His desperation to win her over is movingly depicted, and SRK, whom Iāve never considered much of an actor, save for his role in Swades, does an impeccable job; I really felt for poor Suri.
This film starts off strong; we get to know Suri and his timid life. In comes Taani, and we get to know him better (unfortunately not her). And then closer to the interval, with that incongruous throwback-to-the-oldies song, the film starts to lose itās moorings. It continues in this un-hinged fashion for quite a bit of the middle third, with events which have no bearing on the story. I feel Aditya Chopra, with all his talent, gets afflicted with the Raj-Kapoor-brand-of-love syndrome (which I find particularly annoying). This results in the filmās emotional momentum, which was building up quite nicely upto now, suddenly getting sporadic, and teetering between love and tragedy. If youāve seen Raj Kapoorās āMera Naam Jokerā, where he tries to dredge up sympathy (pity ?) for his (unlikeable) character, youāll know what I mean.
One of the filmās songs is the soft and nicely picturised āhaule hauleā. The film in itās build-up to the climax, doesnāt seem to be taking itās own advice (i.e.; not so haule, haule) because we do not actually get to see the build-up of love in Suriās life. True love strikes in the space of one song, and Suri is broadly brushed into his āchosen oneā status fairly quickly. It is too filmi and too pat. Chopra seems to be saying - Here it is , do you get it now ? It is like we are wayward children, who need to be told what to feel, instead of an attentive audience which can gauge emotion by itself.
The film - it outs itself. Chopra seems to want to bare it all for us, the audience, as if he doesnāt trust us to reach the right conclusions by ourselves. As such, Iām a little disappointed that this film lacks the finesse that a āHum dil de chuke sanamā had, and that a director of Chopraās calibre sacrifices what could have been a thing of beauty at the altar of commercialism. "Rab ne bana di jodi", while a fairly decent film, lacks the subtlety, that slow churn of blossoming love, that might have transformed this above ordinary film, into a spectacular one. It might seem that Iām quibbling over a minor matter, and being awfully picky. After all, in this age of āGolmaalā and āGolmaal returnsā how does a little lack of finesse matter in an otherwise wholesome product ?
The film has lots of plot-holes, and requires you to wear your Bollywood-colored glasses, to overlook them. Me, I overlook them because of Suri - such a likeable character is he ! So, yes, this is very watchable film featuring a great beginning, a crowd-pleaser of an ending, and a mediocre middle. Kid-wise this is a clean film, although suited to older kids, because of the relatively slow pace of the film, and the forays into the pseudo-tragic.