Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana movie cast: Rajkummar Rao, Kriti Kharbanda, Nayani Dixit, Manoj Pahwa, K K Raina, Vipin Sharma, Govind Namdev, Navni Parihar
Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana movie director: Ratnaa Sinha
Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana movie ratings: 1.5 stars
For a film that ostensibly sets out to speak against the ills of dowry, Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana is surprisingly, and dangerously muted. On those who seek to sell their sons and buy daughters-in-law. On those who wave it off as a long-standing ‘samaaj ki pratha’. On those who wring their hands and say, what-can we-do-we-have-to-marry-off-our-daughters-too. As if any or all of these are mitigating factors.
On everything else, it is very loud. The decibel level of the background music. The pitch of the melodrama. The loudness is grating and seeps into the telling of this confused tale set in the small towns of UP, about a pair of lovers, Satyendra Mishra (Rao) and Aarti Shukla (Kharbanda) who arrange to meet, fall in love, part, meet again.
The plot looks straight out of the 80s, with its implausible ‘revenge’ theme, the characters who look ‘seedha’ but are totally ‘ulta’, and a leading lady who is presented as a modern, thinking girl, but is given very little agency or a mind of her own. Her one big desire is that she wants to work after marriage. Satyendra aka Sattu’s response, smitten as he is with her pretty-in-pinkness self, is instant acquiescence. Along comes the contrarian mother-in-law, thundering ‘iss khandan hi bahu naukri nahi karegi’, or mothballed words to the effect, which have no business belonging to a film in this day and age. Naturally, things go asunder.
This is not to suggest that pernicious practices like dowry giving-and-taking do not exist today. If anything, those who demand have become smarter and couch it in other words. We do need films, mainstream entertainers with meaning if you like, to address this issue, and if possible, have a strong rebuttal included as a plot point.
What we don’t need are films which couch their so-called ‘social messages’ in twisted ways like these, where we are left looking for clarity, while young Sattu and Aarti are looking for life partners and purpose in life.
The real surprise of this film is Nayani Dixit who plays Aarti’s ‘badi behen’, even if her ‘career advice’ to her younger sister is dodgy. Dixit is refreshingly tart and spirited, and in an ideal world, would have had played the lead.
What also keeps us watching is, of course, Rao. He’s had a super year, and this time around too, he makes his Sattu a real, vulnerable guy. But maybe he needs to take a break from being a small-town lover boy. It’s all becoming too much of a muchness, as are movies set in these small towns, and their quirky, colourful characters.
What about a film with a convincing, loud shout out against ‘dahej’? Now that’s one invite I wouldn’t miss.