The third ring of marriage
An old joke goes:
There are three rings in a marriage — the engagement ring, the wedding ring and suffering.
Barjatya turns it into a cruel one.
Before the nineties, Indian filmmakers successfully packaged love stories because — for the common man, falling in love and getting the girl was a mere fantasy, in a system that dictated arranged marriages.
The definitive climax was for that era of anti-establishment love stories was when the toast of the new generation, Aamir Khan, kills himself in the final frames of ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’. Result: The new generation felt the angst, the old felt a little bad about love resulting in tragedy.
Around the same time, another Khan, teaming up with a certain lesser-known Barjatya, made his debut, bravely proclaiming ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ and started a trend of movies that manufactured family consent for love.
This again, was the fantasy of a generation that fell in love but wished that old folkies would understand the sentiment. The new generation began its dialogue with the old on screen. The old made a sincere attempt to listen. And after a miracle (facilitated by pet pigeon/dog), love would triumph.
A few years later, with ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge,’ the third Khan emerged at the top, after his director Aditya Chopra cracked the most acceptable compromise formula in years: Romancing the West (all through the first half) and yet coming back home to win over the family, the Hindustani way (through the second half). The new generation loved the idea. The older generation, in the wake of globalisation, let go (pretty much like Amrish Puri letting go of Kajol at the Railway station at the end of the film).
It was the ultimate fantasy: Parents sanctioning love marriages.
A decade later, love marriages became passe.
Scriptwriters began to face creative bankruptcy.
“Money? Soon, there were a spate of heist and con films.
Feeling-good? After all, society was infested with crime and negativity, you really needed a ‘Munna Bhai’ to reassure you that life was still beautiful and Priyadarshan to give you a handful of mindless comedy for escape.
After an overdose of crime, con, comedies and remakes, comes another experiment by the same guy who made ‘Prem’ (love) acceptable and loved by the family, embraced by even the traditional.
According to Sooraj Barjatya, the ‘arranged marriage’ (Vivah) is the fantasy.
If you like old world charm, want a crash course in the importance of family, commitment, sacrifice and togetherness in a world that’s becoming increasingly self-centred, you might think Barjatya is right and may end up actually liking this movie.
If you are tired of watching evil, scheming in-laws on TV, you may actually like this movie for refreshing your memories of a bygone era.
But then, if you are the kinds who would never ever fantasise having an arranged marriage, this movie is just not for you.
The only talking point here is that Shahid Kapoor does not try to be Shah Rukh Khan.
But wait, he tries to be Salman Khan here. Now, Salman is an actor who can actually pull off delivering the flatest of lines with saintly reverence and strike a chord, thanks to the peaceful calm writ all over his face.
Shahid, however, ends up looking like a lost puppy with a dry bone in his mouth. The lines he seems to believe are literary gems lack meat.
Amrita Rao is busy wearing the ‘Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon’ giggle all through the film and the only reaction she induces among the audience is eczema.
It is left to Anupam Kher, Alok Nath and Seema Biswas to lend credibility to the acting department in this slow and soppy film further plagued by the music and song breaks.
Having said that, at least a couple of Ravindra Jain’s songs will linger in your head, whether you like them or not.
Though there are a couple of warm moments apart from the familiar Barjatya touches, the film, at best works as a throwback to a bygone era. But how many people are interested in that?
If Barjatya’s ‘Vivah’ lasts at the box-office in spite of his uninspiring lead cast, he has senior citizens and soap-watching ‘saas-bahus’ to thank.
Changes in the version that made it to print are the handiwork of someone at the Desk, and in no way reflect the author’s style.