So, Aditya Chopra is finally back as a director after 8 long years. But the film, while having its odd moment, is sadly no DDLJ. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (RNBDJ) plays to the gallery in a desperate attempt to succeed commercially and is a collage of so called ‘hit’ scenes, dialogues and items. The film is a little bit of this and a little bit of that – You can see shades of Golmaal, Pyar to Hona Hi Tha, a mention of several recent hits like Dhoom among others. So what you get are scenes after scenes, some of which work at the time, but failing to gel into an overall coherent film.
What’s disturbing is the fact that the trendsetter with DDLJ seems to be following current market trends rather than dictating new ones. So you have an item number with 5 top actresses making cameos, so you have silly mindless comedy scenes like the ones prevalent in most films today. In fact, the problem with the film is that everything is obviously so ‘filmi’ in its treatment. Thus, even the so-called normal middle-class people are filmi middle-class people. The ‘Punjabipan’ is heavily forced even though it should have come naturally to the Chopras. It is as if the film is hammering home the fact that we are in Amritsar and this is a story of Punjabis. All this makes it all the more difficult for you to get involved with the characters and their problems and consequently when the film gets heavy in the second half, its length shows as it goes on and on as if unsure how to resolve the conflict set up. Consequently, the film comes across as a silly piece of superficial fluff on one side and forced emotional heaviness on the other.
Much of the lighter scenes are silly and the basic flaw in the script is Raj’s characterization. He is a cheapard and a brash jat and while his scenes work for the moment as they unabashedly play to audiences, you are unable to believe that a girl like Taani would actually be swept off her feet and fall for someone like this. Leave alone that, you never believe a character like Suri would behave the way he does and actually create an alter ego this loud. The film also heavily depends on a flimsy, illogical premise of Taani not recognizing Raj, which is too unbelievable in todays times. Films of the 1950s and 60s could get away with it but not today. And, you are unsure why exactly Suri has created Raj. Is it so that seeing his brashness and crudeness, Taani would realize what a sensitive nice guy Suri is? Or is it to trying to present her with her fantasy hero? One wonders... Other script contrivances are obvious, again being typically filmi. When the dance jodis are being formed, you know that Raj and Taani will be paired together and you know what...they are! You know when Taani asks Rab at the Golden Temple to show her the light and when she opens her eyes, whom she is going to see and sure enough it is!
There are some fine moments in the film. The gol gappa competition scene is cute as is the way Raj romances Taani on his day out with her. The climactic moment as Taani discovers Suri and Raj are one is done cleverly through the dance even if the resolution of the story is much, much too pat following the dance. The end titles are cute and work well leaving you with a smile on your face.
Shah Rukh gives the film his all. But this time his energy and performance seem a trifle forced. Not only is he looking his age, he has overplayed both the timid and brash sides of his character in trying to ‘obviously’ demarcate the difference between Suri and Raj. He does have his moments in the film though and the goofy smile that Suri sports has you smiling along with him. Anushka Sharma makes a confident debut handling the various shades of her role efficiently. She looks cute and fresh and has the most disarming smile. Vinay Pathak as Shah Rukh’s buddy is adequate enough even if quite OTT.
Technically, the film is just so-so which is surprising. The film is adequately photographed but nowhere near Ravi K Chandran’s best work. Musically, Haule Haule, Dance Pe Chance and the male version of Tuj Mein Rab Dikhta Hai go well with the flow of the film. However, only the picturization of Haule Haule really stands out. The take off on Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna and Rishi Kapoor, Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke is well-written cleverly incorporating the titles of their films but in spite of Shah Rukh’s energy and appearances by 5 top actresses, the song could have done with a far more innovative picturization. The film appears too long and needed drastic trimming in the second half. But more than it being an editorial flaw, it is a screenplay writing error as Suri continues far too long with his double role act and this brings the narrative to a grinding halt.
All in all, time-pass viewing in its better moments but otherwise the film fails to really linger in one’s mind once one is out of the theatre.