Monday, December 15, 2008

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

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!


Darshit December 17, 2008 at 3:22 AM  

I felt very same feelings with this movie. Check out my review. Long wait after 'Mohabbatein', din't paid much.

Anushka is simply fabulous. And yes, her confrontations with Surinder, are best. Rather than 'blah-blah' Raj. He is simply headache.

I think, why Taani don't recognise Raj, is cause she never did give attention to Surinder in detail. See each scene. She is always being formal. Thats why when she is with Raj, she can't compare.

Filmi Girl December 17, 2008 at 7:08 AM  

Thank you for your write-up!! I'll probably end up seeing the film anyways (can I bring myself to miss the new SRK?!) but I'm keeping my expectations low.

I wish this had been a falling in love after marriage movie... Wouldn't that have been sweet? Do we really need more over-the-top SRK?

Ipshi December 17, 2008 at 7:45 AM  

U missed the best part if u didnt understand the honeymoon scenes :)

anyhoo, i loved the film, especially Suri; as far as the movie going downhill later... i dont really agree, here's why

SRK as Raj is only trying an outlet to show Taani how much he loves her and as Suri only brings out her sense of duty, he opted to be someone completely diff. But I thought there were many scenes where Raj showed Taani that the obnoxiousness was just a front for a deeper and better heart and that's what she fell for. I would've too - after the initial revulsion.
i dont like srk as a rule but i loved him in this movie...
tell me if u want really good meanings of the song that he sang on her birthday, cos the words r simply phenomenal!

ps. it's good to see u so active here, im loving it!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat December 17, 2008 at 8:04 AM  

So you ARE back! and I am loving the revamped blog as well- v nice :)
I was really looking forward to this one, but dont even feel like going to see it anymore - will wait for the DVD

Nicki December 17, 2008 at 8:12 AM  

Thanks for that review. For some reason, I wasn't feeling it either. Maybe it's the big hype around the movie...and that it's a SRK movie. Plus I'm not really feeling Anushka at all! I've been ONLY hearing great reviews on this film from die-hard SRK fans. So it's great to hear your stand on it cause I believe you are more neutral to the film than what I've been reading about. However, one of my SRK-loving friend was disappointed in it as well.

Thank goodness I decided to save my money for Ghajini instead. I know I won't have really high expectations since I've seen both Memento and the Tamil version.

theBollywoodFan December 17, 2008 at 9:39 AM  

Thanks for your review, Nida. I'll probably wait for the DVD, and am really looking forward to seeing Anushka! We could sure use some new acting talent.

I like that you didn't find it too bothersome that Taani didn't recognize her husband. The concept doesn't bother me much either, especially given the cast and crew. As Filmi Girl says, do we really need more over-the-top SRK? Some of us have been asking this question for 15 years!

And Nicki: It's perfectly okay to have high expectations of Ghajini, even if you've seen the Tamil version ;)

Nida December 17, 2008 at 10:27 AM  

Darshit--Welcome and thanks for stopping by!That's a good point, now that you mention it, Taani barely did look up at Surinder at all. They didn't share a bedroom, and most of their interactions were across that long table. Can't wait to see Anushka in more, though! Haven't seen "Mohabbatein" but don't have too much of a desire to do so now.

Filmi Girl--Thanks for dropping a comment and stopping by!Anytime--I figured if I can save anybody the time and money of going to the theater for this, I will. Maybe its worth it for some--For SRK alone--but in hindsight I really could have waited. Yet I read the negative reviews and still went to go because of Shahtown! ;)Can't wait to see what you think of it!And you're right--a low-key love story of Surinder winning Taani over on his own without the Raj stuff could have been really good.

Ipshi--I wish I could have understood it! The pictures looked really fun (at the end). As for the song with Raj and Taani, I'd love to read your translation! You know, I feel like most of the longer scenes where Raj/Surinder is expressing his feelings got lost in translation for me. As for the film...well, I think it really wasn't that bad...I think the film and SRK's performance in it is being judged harsher than usual by some (myself included) in the aftermath of the recent slew of Yashraj flops. Just expect so much more from them! Glad you liked the film, though. THe more I think of it, the more I think SRK did a great job as Surinder.

Shweta--Yep, I am!!:)So happy to be back, too! I missed reading your blog and others, as well as writing in my own. You know, some people really liked the film but from what I've read on your blogs I'd say you could probably stand to wait for the DVD. I know I could have, but I didn't feel it was a total loss, either.

Nicki--I can't wait for "Ghajini"! I have a good feeling about it--and my expectations are really high after "TZP"! I liked Anushka, but she did seem a little cold at times. I'm hoping that was due to the writeup of her character--fitting with the story.

Bollywood Fan--Can't wait to hear your take on the film, and Anushka! Yeah, you know the plot didn't bug me too much because that's what Bollywood's all about, isn't it? Since when has realism been an issue when the main characters are transported from locale to locale in the blink of an eye? I felt the whole "Been there, done that" attitude with SRK's OTT side in the film...let's see something different, Shahrukh! Surinder was different. I know he's capable of more. It would have been okay if Raj wasn't so obnoxious, in my book. Here's to "Ghajini"!

Nida December 17, 2008 at 10:36 AM  

Shweta--Glad you like the blog layout as well! I figured my hack of the Rounders template had too many imperfections!:)

BB December 17, 2008 at 12:24 PM  

I keep hearing so many conflicting stories about this movie that I'm probably just going to wait until it comes out on DVD. I'm especially worried about SRK's apparent lack of charisma; if there's one thing I always say about the man, it's that his incredible charisma always makes up for his sometime mediocre acting.

Still, here's hoping for the best!

ajnabi December 17, 2008 at 2:23 PM  

I'm supposed to see this this next weekend; I tried to cancel but my friend wouldn't let me back out... Oh well. At least it didn't suck from your POV, although really "at least it didn't suck" is pretty faint praise for something I'd hope would redeem the year filmi-wise for me. LOL

Nida December 17, 2008 at 9:38 PM  

BB-Welcome!:) I feel the same way about SRK--ordinarily, even a bad script can't touch his charisma...not so here, though. At least not for me. This film was watchable but in my opinion more of a renter.

Ajnabi--Can't wait to read your review! You may like it--sounds like the reviews are about 50/50. Yeah "Jodhaa-Akbar" seems like it was so far in the past, doesn't it? For me the year was downhill since then...Didn't get to see "Jaane Tu..." or "Rock On" yet, though!

memsaab December 18, 2008 at 3:26 PM  

SRK can make anything work, and I'd see this just for him...but I'll wait for the DVD :-)

Saw your comment about Madhubala over at theBollywoodFan's site: see Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, I think you will really like it. She's beautiful, Kishore is hilarious, the songs are fab....and it's a funny movie. She was also great in Boy Friend with Shammi (but I'm biased towards Shammi so...take that as you will ;-)

but CKNG is a classic for a good reason. Well worth owning!

Nida December 18, 2008 at 5:41 PM  

Memsaab--Thank you for the Madhubala recommendations! I always welcome those, I really have seen very little filmi oldies--and I want to see more! Both movies sound cute, the first for the reasons you listed and the second for the title alone!:)

Yes, I would definitely say to wait for the DVD!

Joss,  December 19, 2008 at 4:48 AM  

That was a great write-up, Nida. I think I shall still go to the cinema to see this film, because I was planning to and it will be a bit of fun with the girls. Also, everyone panned Drona and me and my son really liked it. In fact, most of my favourite Bollywood films have been flops in India. I shall probably end up agreeing with you, because your judgment is always very sound, but I think I shall make up my own mind.

Ipshi December 19, 2008 at 6:02 AM  

cant wait to see ur review for rock on and jaane actually!

seeing a movie but not really being able to truly understand because ur dependant on the sub titles is really crappy, i've had such a horrible time with some foriegn language films, "aah, the breath, it is not moving" to signify that a man is dead and so on...

am mailing u the song's translation
also, if u didnt really get any part of the movie or any other movie, i'd b more than happy to explain :)

Nida December 19, 2008 at 6:31 PM  

You should definitely go if you're making it a fun day with the girls! Many people liked this better than I did--I think had I seen this when it was already on DVD without all the pressures of a new release, I may have written the review quite differently...can't wait to hear what you think, though!

Ipshi-Yes, I often think I would get a whole different impression from the films if I understood Hindi--Thank you so much for the translation! As well as all of your insights...they really are welcome and I learn so much from them!:)

Reema December 21, 2008 at 8:20 PM  

Aww man. I want everyone to love this movie, but I guess that's not possible.

I agree, the scenes with Suri/Taani are the sweetest in the movie, and Suri was just an adorable man. But I obviously don't think the movie went downhill with the intro of Raj (hehe, you've read my review). Raj is simply what Suri sees as 'cool'. And remember, the only view of cool that he has is Bobby, who lets face it, is not. But Suri thinks it's cool to spike your hair, wear tight clothes, and be loud. So I go with it, accept it. And because when he turns back into Suri, he's just so darn cute. :D

Anonymous,  December 30, 2008 at 4:28 PM  

U r spot on about this movie. I saw it on DVD a few days ago - didn't like it - slow pace, poor editing, poor music, ott srk in the raj role. SRK also looks old and haggard in the movie esp in the Raj role! Anushka looks like his daughter - the age diff bet the 2 is so obvious - dunno if that was supposed to be part of the story (if yes it did not come thru)

Anushka is a talented girl and can do well given a good script and role. On the whole a big disappointment. I wud consider a waste of money seeing it on the big screen.

Ghajjini has been getting rave reviews on various blogs.

Nida January 9, 2009 at 9:52 AM  

Oh, my. Shahrukh Khan stopping by on my lil ol' blog?

I'm going to pretend you're not spam and leave the miles of adds attached to your comment and tell myself that you really are King Khan...just to humor myself.

Anonymous,  February 26, 2009 at 4:27 AM  

commo. i loved that movie. i have not met a single person. who did not loved taht movie. except those ugly critics. all my friends are telling me taht its the best movie of last year. far better than ghajini

Anonymous,  February 26, 2009 at 4:30 AM  

hey check out this link:

srk and his body guards

Anonymous,  April 29, 2009 at 10:29 PM  

All is subjective, this is for sure. I think I'm the only one living that thinks RNBDJ was the best film of 2008. I have watched the film 5-6 times, and I'm not getting why all of you didn't like it, and are being so critical. It was fun! Moving! the music was excellent! Magical! Great, original story, moving message... she chooses her husband, as she see's God in one else see's how awesome and lovely this film is? UGGGG@!!!!!! Not that good? Ok, what film in 08 in the family/romance/comedy genre was good? :0)

Henrik,  August 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM  

Fully agreed that "Surinder & Taani", or, make that "Taani & Surinder", could have been made into a nice movie about love (or not) after marriage. Fully agreed that the repeated "b" word is off-putting.
Unfortunately, on most other aspects: disagreed.
(Even though, in all this commenting, you didn't give his hairdresser friend a go?)
Have you seen "Chak de! India" by now? That's the place to go to see a restrained - and great - SRK.

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