Vivah : Friday flicks, Bollywood, Vivah, review

Cast: Shahid Kapur, Amrita Rao
Direction: Sooraj Barjatya

In director Sooraj Barjatya’s Vivah, this week’s big new Bollywood release, 20-something Delhi boy Shahid Kapur finds himself smitten by the demure, small-town girl his father has selected for him to marry.

Drawn to her innocence and simplicity, Shahid agrees to the marriage barely moments after he’s met her at her home in Madhupur, and the young lady in question Amrita Rao seems equally floored by her charming suitor.

The marriage is fixed for six months later, and the couple find themselves in the first throes of young, budding love, their geographical distance notwithstanding.

But Amrita, who’s been raised by her uncle and her aunt after her parents’ death, is struck by a horrible calamity just hours before the marriage. And then, it’s up to Shahid to play the honourable lover and to embrace her unconditionally.

Much in the same vein as Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Hum Saath Saath Hain, Barjatya’s new film Vivah too is on one level a family drama with an extremely idealistic premise.

But sadly, the plot of this new film comes off looking way too outdated, even more far-fetched than those regressive Ekta Kapoor soaps. And the problem is clear – you just can’t relate to such squeaky-clean characters who don’t have one bad bone in their bodies.

There are many things that work in favour of and against Hindi films, and timing is one such important factor. Twenty-five years ago, perhaps the plot of Vivah may not have felt like such a stretch, but today it just seems like the product of a mind stuck in a time warp.

Perhaps the film’s only saving grace is the fact that it oozes sincerity from start to finish, you can make out right away that the filmmaker’s intention is not to deceive. Judging both by Barjatya’s previous films and by closely examining this new one you can safely declare that Barjatya believes in a perfect world, he believes in his good-as-gold characters, he believes that large families can live together happily under the same roof without the slightest bumps.

But alas, he’s unable to translate his vision to the screen. It’s difficult to overlook how one-dimensional his protagonists are – Shahid and Amrita, both virtuous and virginal – I mean, think about it, the first time they hold hands is an hour and twenty minutes into the film.

Barjatya may think he’s returning to his Maine Pyar Kiya roots with Vivah, but truth is that the reason we embraced Salman and Bhagyashree in that film, or even Salman and Madhuri in Hum Aapke Hain Koun is because they had such fantastic chemistry. Because although they were created out of the same mould as Shahid and Amrita in Vivah, those pairs had mischief and masti. Shahid and Amrita are just insipid and boring.

For a film that relies so heavily on music to narrate its story, the filmmaker chooses a string of 70s-style tunes that only further slacken the film’s deadening pace. But if I had to choose just one reason to explain why Vivah doesn’t work for me, it’s because I’m not sure I can relate to any of the characters who inhabit Barjatya’s story.

To some perhaps Vivah will give hope, that a perfect world like this is actually out there somewhere. But I’m a little cynical I guess.

So, give me the coquettish Madhuri of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, give me the bratty Salman of Maine Pyar Kiya, I’ll even take that mischevious Karisma Kapoor of Hum Saath Saath Hain. But save me from these dullards.

So, that’s one out of five and no reason to smile for Sooraj Barjatya’s Vivah. You know, some marriages aren’t made in heaven. This one’s Vivaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Rating:
1 / 5