*ing: Shahid Kapur, Amrita Rao, Anupam Kher, Seema Biswas, Alok Nath, Sameer Soni, Manoj Joshi, Mohnish Behl, Jatin Siyal
Direction: Sooraj R. Barjatya
Storyline: BOY MEETS girl. The engagement follows. They talk and, well, they talk. And talk (oh yes, they sing some forgettable songs too, but not 17 of them). For almost three hours of the ‘story’, which unfolds Sooraj R. Barjatya’s ‘journey from engagement to marriage’, boy and girl talk. Till, of course, Barjatya decides to give the story a kind of ‘twist’ that you thought went past its expiry date after Hum Aapke Hain Koun.
Have you ever been tired watching a movie? Not sleepy, not bored – plain tired. Vivah will leave you tired, nothing less. Tired of simple boys from rich families who would never dream of going around killing waitresses at bars over a drink (but then, may be that’s because they don’t exist). Tired of pretty, innocent girls who probably think birds and bees are all about the garden where they traipse around, mooning over shaadi and stuff like that. Tired of all that Bharatiya culture and tradition spiel that has been discovered, rediscovered, re-rediscovered so many times on the Rajshri screen.
Hang me if you think I am anti-Bharatiya culture and tradition (which I’m certainly not), but I am plain tired of the grind. It is Sooraj Barjatya’s Disneyland-ish utopia where everyone is innocent and pure. Where the odd evil chachi learns her lesson finally It is a utopia that doesn’t have a resident address anywhere in the Bharat I have known (you know, the family that eats together, sits together and sings together… blah). It has kept returning to tire you in every Sooraj Barjatya film since Maine Pyaar Kiya. It returns in Vivah.
In Vivah, Shahid Kapur is Prem, humble inheritor of Delhi’s biggest business family Amrita Rao is Poonam, Prem ki deewani and an orphan from middle-class Mathura. Prem thinks he is not ready for marriage, his dad (Anupam Kher) tells him to give it a shot. So Prem and Poonam are engaged. As they converse, they get to know each other and find a soulmate in the other. Of course, just when you were thinking where’s the story in all this, the second half brings a crisis that will test their love.
Okay, even Hum Aapke Hain Koun didn’t have much of a story. At least that 17-song shaadi ka video had Madhuri Dixit and her choli-less back. The girls freaked over Salman Khan, and all of it was packeted in a way that appeared fresh 12 years ago. The problem with Vivah is that the packet doesn’t sell anymore. Shahid tries hard to fit into Salman’s shoes. As an actor he is good, but he simply lacks the charisma. Amrita Rao is all sugar and syrup don’t blame her, that’s all there is to her role.
If Barjatya was trying to be differently innocent in an era when even Karan Johar is romancing the extra-marital, it doesn’t work. Simply because his Vivah is like an unending family soap that goes on and on. May be it’s finally time to change track, Sooraj babu.