Hai Kajol! When the dusky actress appears in a cameo in one of the songs in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi( RNBDJ) you feel the sharp ache of longing that she were the lead in Yash Raj Films’ latest romantic fairy tale.
Like other Yash Raj films, RNBDJ also seems to exist outside normal space/time and the reality of life in India( the sets intensify this feeling). Shahrukh Khan plays Surinder Sahni, a Walter Mitty-like meek everyman who works for Punjab Light and Power in Amritsar. When circumstances( that only happen in the movies) force him to get married to the pretty Taani( newcomer Anushka Sharma), who he has secretly fallen in love with, he creates a dashing alter ego to woo his reluctant wife. Complications ensue when Taani falls in love with the “other” guy.
There is more than a hint of self-mockery in Aditya Chopra’s latest. The dashing Shahrukh is named Raj, in an obvious nod to the many Raj Malhotras inhabiting Bollywood productions; “Dhoom machale” plays in the background during a scooter chase. But RNBDJ still falls prey to the cliches of mainstream masala movies. God( or Rab, in this case) is invoked at crucial times and many soppy dialogues extol the virtues of matches made in heaven. Despite the hackneyed treatment, the film is a hit and sole credit must go to its lead actor.
The casting for RNBDJ both makes and unmakes the film. Without SRK, the movie would have been a dud- just try and imagine Raghubir Yadav or Manoj Bajpai( both of whom are surely better fits as the self-effacing Suri) in the movie and its many flaws become glaring apparent. SRK’s charisma overshadows his attempts to play the self-effacing Suri, but he gives it the best he possibly can. Seeing him in coke-bottle glasses and a mustache makes you realize how unprepossessing his looks are and how much of his success is due to the force of his personality and those burning eyes!
Anushka Sharma, on the other hand, almost drags the movie down. Unemotive, unremarkable and just averagely pretty, she acts as a passive foil to the ebullient Khan. When her fiance( a love match) dies on her wedding day and she is forced to marry Surinder, there’s hardly a trace of shock or grief on her face – she just endures. When she realizes that she is falling for Raj, there is no sign of the internal conflict she must be going through as she debates whether to leave her husband for him. Another tragedy of casting is the talented Vinay Pathak as Bobby, the crudely dressed hairstylist who effects Suri’s transformation into Raj. He looks ill-suited, uncomfortable and too old for the role though he turns in a competent performance as usual.
Salim-Suleiman’s music is derivative and predictable, following the template of Yash Raj movies though I did learn some Bollywood dance moves with the peppy “Dance pe chance mar le” .
RNBDJ is harmless, mildly entertaining movie that is family friendly. I enjoyed it because a) I happen to be an SRK fan and b) I watched it in a theater with friends and we had a great time commenting on the inadvertantly funny moments. See it under those caveats.
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
*ring – Shahrukh Khan, Anushka Sharma
Directed by Aditya Chopra
My rating -3 out of 5 stars.