Saturday, January 17, 2009

Akshay Shah’s piece on RAB NE BANA DI JODI (Hindi, 2008)

Akshay Shah’s piece on RAB NE BANA DI JODI (Hindi, 2008)

The bigger you are, the higher you fall goes the saying… Expectations were huge from Aditya Chopra, after a legendary all time blockbuster with DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGEI and a super-hit follow-up pitting two of Hindi cinema’s titans together with MOHABBATEIN audiences were waiting for an absolute masterpiece with his third outing RAB NE BANA DI JODI, however the movie left me thinking “is that all”? RAB NE BANA DI JODI isn’t a bad film, however given the expectations at hand (this was THE Yashraj film which was going to revive the banner in all ways is a surprisingly underwhelming and often lacklustre effort.

The first question one has to ask is why the flimsy screenplay? The movie had the perfect setting to be a character driven, performance based drama with a beautiful love story at it’s core, however a haggard and garish screenplay turns the movie into a self mocking spoof where the joke is on none other than Aditya Chopra. Undoubtedly there are scattered scenes where the directors masterstroke comes to the fore, however these are few and far in between in what is otherwise a dreary affair.
Surinder (Shahrukh Khan in his most natural performances since SWADES as Suri) is a simple man who works in a simple job and leads a simple life. A series of circumstances sees him marrying a much younger Taani (a fresh and delightful Anushka Sharma) however the marriage is only of convenience as Taani feels no love for Suri. Suri on the other hand usko deewano ki tara pyaar karta hai and thus thinks up a plan with his langootiya yaar (a spirited Vinay Patthak) . Suri decides to change himself entirely and becomes Raj-a hip and cool dancer. His motive is to enter a dance competition with Taani so that he can spend some time with her. At this point the movie requires the viewers to take a huge leap of faith, and this works in the films favour. Suri transforms from the being a mild-mannered introvert into Raj; a loud, obnoxious, smart-alecky know-it-all and enters a dance competition with Taani enters….the leap of faith? Taani can’t recognise Raj as suri. From this point the film really starts to go downhill until the last 30 minutes of the movie where the pace picks up again. One wonders whether Aditya Chopra was even present in the middle portions of the movie or whether he was a absentee director like Ram Gopal Varma in the SHIVA remake.

As a director this is Aditya Chopra’s weakest film to date. DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGEI is a masterpiece for eternity and ages to come, MOHABBATEIN was a disappointing follow-up however saved by some brilliant dramatic confrontations by Amitabh and Shahrukh as well as a delightful musical score, however RAB NE BANA DI JODI is simply an average film. Adi has successfully maintained the small town feel of the movie like they did with BUNTY AUR BABLI, CHAK DE INDIA and AAJA NACHLEY, however the setting and characters of the movie don’t become the mainstay in RAB NE BANA DI JODI like they did in the other films. To give Chopra credit, he did direct some sequences with a brilliant combination of vunerability and poignancy, however these are few and far in between to make the whole movie. The potential of the story was immense, and had Chopra concentrated on doing a mature love story character piece (like his father did in KABHIE KABHIE, SILSILA) between Suri and Taani this could’ve worked in a big way as a film. RAB NE BANA DI JODI’s mainstay is Suri and he simply doesn’t have enough footage in the movie.

An interesting point to note is this is the second time in recent times that Yashraj have attempted to deconstruct their stereotype of “Raj”-made infamous by Shahrukh Khan over an entire decade, infact I would go as far as to say Raj became Shahrukh’s alias much like Vijay for Bachchan (though the comparison is only there in a light sense as no actor’s career matches the kind of depth Bachchans has). In BACHCHNA AE HASEENO Yashraj presented an interesting variation on DDLJ whereby the character of Raj is a lying and heartless playboy who wants no commitment and breaks Simran’s heart and runs away, then throughout the film we’re introduced to a realistic, modern day Raj which rang a few bells close to home for myself, a bachelor playboy who is simply not ready for commitment until he finally meets the girl he loves, but ironically she doesn’t love him back. The Raj in BACHCHNE AE HASEENO is reinvented for modern times, and while the new Raj isn’t exactly as likeable, he certainly works in a huge way as he is real!

With RAB NE BANA DI JODI Aditya creates 2 characters, one of which is again Raj. The Raj here is a mere caricature and border-line mockery of himself, but instead of being funny he grates on the viewers nerves. Shahrukh went for the same brand of humour in OM SHANTI OM and it worked there, specially in the Filmfare Awards sequences, but here they just don’t success in connecting.

Surprisingly, the music of the movie is a huge letdown. One would expect a Shahrukh Khan-Aditya Chopra film to have a soundtrack which is simply extraordinary, however this is not the case. With the exception of a addictive HAULE HAULE, the other songs don’t leave much of an impact. The much hyped PHIR MILENGEI CHALTE CHALTE comes at the most absurd moment, and fails to leave much of an impact. They work in the context of the movie while they’re playing, however they fail to linger with you long after the show is over….much like the movie itself.

How the winds have changed…a Shahrukh Khan-Aditya Chopra film should’ve quiet easily been the BIGGEST hit of the year, and a film which sets new records ands benchmarks for Hindi cinema ala DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGEI. These are the expectations that Khan and Chopra have created and with RAB NE BANA DI JODI they fail to deliver on almost all counts, it baffles me it took Adi 8 years to deliver this? Back to the drawing board Adi….and time for a big re-think!


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