Just got back from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.
Was it good? Was it awful? Did I like it? Was Shahrukh's performance all that and then some? Is Aditya Chopra back with a vengeance?(Drumroll, please...)
Unfortunately, a big fat no!!!!
Now, don't get me wrong. "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" wasn't all that bad. But it wasn't all that good, either! And we expect the best! Come on, Adi--You've got Shahrukh Khan, adequate funds from Daddy's production house, and countless fans who love you for making Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge--and this is all you got? You had how many years since Mohabbatein to come up with something creative, something original, something really great for your big comeback. Yet you gave us nothing but mediocre fluff, something we've grown to expect from Yashraj films after the great flopfest of 2007-2008.
I don't mean to jump on the critics' bash-Yashraj bandwagon, but its a little disappointing when you pop in Veer Zaara or Bunty Aur Babli and realize the films Yashraj are making today are a far cry from what they were only a few years ago. To be fair, I haven't seen Chak De!India yet, but Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Bachna Ae Haseeno, and Aaja Nachle were so-so "chick flick" material at best. Were they watchable? Sure. If you'll read my reviews, you'll see I liked them, for the most part. But they weren't great. And great is exactly what I expect from one of the biggest production houses in the industry!
Ok. So now that I've gotten off my soapbox, let's get into the film, and you'll see what I mean.
The story centers around Surinder Sahani(Shahrukh Khan)'s "arranged" marriage to Taani(played by newcomer Anushka Sharma). I say "arranged" because the marriage was set up to satisfy Taani's father's dying wish--it was all very last minute, you see. Anyways, Surinder is sort of a nerd. No, wait, he is a nerd. He's awkward and uncharismatic and can't dance--the opposite of a Shahrukh Khan-type hero. Yet he seems like a good man. In fact, I really liked Surinder. He tries to be romantic, but it just never seems to work. Poor guy--even his wife tells him not to expect her love--it just ain't gonna happen.
However, Taani does make somewhat of an effort to be a respectful housewife (thankfully--I probably wouldn't have liked her too much had she not). But she lives her life like a robot, barely cracking a smile. However, when she sees an ad for a local dance competition, Taani finally finds something to be excited about. She enters the very next day, and Surinder gives her his blessing. It's then that he devises a plan, with the help of pal Bobby (Vinay Pathak), to win his wife's heart--He'll get a makeover, join the competition, and she'll be his forever (technically, his original intention wasn't to deceive his wife, but of course this is Bollywood, so circumstances "forced" him into the situation).
I have to say, up to this point, I had really been enjoying the film. Surinder was cute, and I felt Shahrukh played an "average" man pretty well, refraining from his usual trademark expressions and flashy moves. Also, I like love stories that occur after marriage (like in The Namesake and Jodhaa-Akbar). But when Surinder's alter ego, Raj, came into the picture, the film went south.
Raj was supposed to be a real life version of what Surinder imagined Taani wanted in a man--a Bollywood "hero" type, the type of guy Shahrukh normally plays. But he looked more like an obnoxious Ricky Martin wannabee. Whose idea was it to dress Raj in tight tees, spiky overgelled hair (with highlights), and colored glasses? Maybe that would've flown in 1999, but not today. And, ironically, he possessed none of the qualities Shahrukh is famous for--Raj had zero charisma, no chemistry with his leading lady, and couldn't dance. Forget about the love story between Raj and Taani--it just didn't exist, in my book. There was more of a spark between SRK and Deepika Padukone in Om Shanti Om(and that's not saying much, because that wasn't supposed to be a love story).
Speaking of Om Shanti Om, was Aditya Chopra trying to cash in on his own version of the 2007 Farah Khan hit film? With surprise cameos, film parodies, and a double faced Shahrukh Khan, its hard to ignore the similarites. Yet Adi should stick to what he knows--he's definitely no Farah Khan in the humor department (And how many times are we going to see Dhoom referenced in a film? It's getting pretty ridiculous).
The music was nothing to write home about, surprisingly. If there's one thing I've always said about Yashraj films, its that they know how to churn out an awesome song picturization. But the songs in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi lacked the luster and extravagance of previous Yashraj films. Even the song with the surprise cameos could have been done with a little more flair and creativity. (***If you don't want to know who the "surprise" cameos are, stop reading this paragraph***)Nonetheless, it was cool to see Kajol, Bipasha, Lara, Preity and Rani pop up in the film right when I was starting to lose interest. Beloved couple Kajol and Shahrukh's dance even featured a nod to another famous Bollywood jodi-Raj Kapoor and Nargis in Shree 420---that made me very happy. And, of course, seeing Rani's smile always makes things better. Someone in the costuming department hates Preity Zinta, though--Eek!What's a girl got to do to get a cute outfit for her cameo? Hook up with Aditya Chopra?(Sorry Rani, you know I love you, but I just couldn't resist)...
The song "Dance Pe Chance" is okay, but its kind of misleading because it gives the film a Dirty Dancing sort of vibe--and then we don't get much dancing afterwards. The song where Raj is trying to romance Taani on his birthday is sweet, but again, its not half as gorgeous as "Bolna Halke Halke" (from Jhoom Barabar Jhoom) or "Khuda Jaane" (from Bachna Ae Haseeno).
There are other scenes in the film that I just didn't get. For example, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the biggest appeal of DDLJ the fact that it was wholesome and family friendly? Then why on earth would Aditya Chopra include a crude and ugly scene of Taani almost getting in a catfight with a fellow female dancer--in which the word "bitch" was unecessarily used about six times? Just to be able to include that dumb Dhoom motorcycle thing? Sheesh.
And the less that's said about the sumo-wrestling match, the better. It was just painful to watch.
Now for the good stuff...Anushka Sharma did a great job considering what she was working with. She had a charm and beauty about her that gave the film much needed color--something Raj's bright baby tees failed to do.
For me, the brightest spot in the film was the interactions between Taani and Surinder, in his natural form. Aditya Chopra should have taken a clue from The Namesake and focused more on this pair than the dragged out Raj/Taani scenes.
I also liked the ending, and I'm glad things were resolved the way they were. There's some extra stuff that plays while the end credits roll, and its pretty cute, despite the fact that it wasn't subtitled.
There's been a lot of complaints about the plot, since its kind of ridiculous that Taani wouldn't recognize her own husband, simply because he tossed the mustache and got a new wardrobe. That part didn't bother me so much--I'm always okay with being manipulated by a film, and try not to think too hard about what's believable and what's just plain outrageous. But what did bother me about this film was that it wasn't better. I expected more, and got less, and that's always disappointing.
If you're planning on seeing the film because you love Shahrukh and have been looking forward to it, I'd say go ahead. Some of the feedback has been good, and you may really like it. But as for me, I could have waited for the DVD.
I still love you, Shahrukh--here's to hoping your next one's better!