Updated: November 18, 2015 12:10:09 pm
“So, you are complaining because the film has a storyline and wasn’t an extended family function video?” asked a friend who I had called to bicker about ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ after paying through my nose for a first day-first show ticket. That set me thinking, as a country, what exactly are our Barjatya needs?
Clearly, we trust Sooraj Barjatya to uphold upper-middle class Hindu values in films after films. From ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ (1989) to ‘Vivah’ (2006), Barjatya has more or less consistently told us that we need to wake up before 8 in the morning, perform aarti, not smoke, not talk back to Alok Nath, Anupam Kher and Reema Lagoo, eat laddoos and halwa, and dance in family functions wearing zardozi lehengas and sherwanis to lead a wholesome Indian life.
In between, when he made a departure in the form of ‘Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon’, where the heroine makes out with the hero in a beach wearing bare nothings before marriage, we shamed him into making a ‘Vivah’. ‘Vivah’, the great Barjatya comeback film is where the simpering heroine (Amrita Rao) doesn’t even touch the hero (Shahid Kapoor) in a dream sequence before marriage.
But, today, Barjatya is confronted with the India of 2015 and his Prem (Salman Khan) is far from the virginal, starry-eyed youngster of ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’. His heroine is known for turning up at the Cannes red carpet in dresses made out of ostrich feathers. Obviously, the latest Barjatya offering isn’t the same and here are five reasons why we are not very happy about it.
1. Where is the Maa? In ‘Vivah’, when his bahu leaves for her maika, the patriarch (Anupam Kher) laments that without a mother figure in a household, everything falls apart. Well, ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ suffers from that very syndrome. What’s a Sooraj Barjatya film without Reema Lagoo hiding Salman Khan under her Banarasi anchal? There is a guest appearance by Suhasini Mulay who looks regal in pastel-coloured chiffons, but let’s face it, no one does Maa better than Reema Lagoo.
2. Why no Tuffy? The adorable mutt from ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun’ (1994) was not just any dog, he shared top billing with the ever-loveable Laxmikant Berde. Tuffy, much like the Kabootar from ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, turned things around. By uniting the lovers in both the films, Tuffy and Kabootar taught us that animals in Sooraj Barjatya films have more observational power than human beings who are consumed by important family functions like gode-bharai and an assortment of pujas. ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo’, considering its royal settings, would have benefited with a benign lion or a friendly elephant.
3. Horny Heroine — In the Sooraj Barjatya world, women don’t sexually assert themselves. When they do, they come off looking as uncomfortable as Rakhee singing a rap song. And before you start screaming misogyny, let us remind you that even men don’t. Even if they do, like the hot-blooded Prem did in ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, they are tamed into asexualness. In PRDP, Sonam Kapoor hits on Salman Khan with the alarming regularity of a YouTube pop-up ad. We want our asexual lead players back please.
4. No eating together — Every Barjatya fan knows that the family that eats together, stays together. If only Salman’s character in the film followed that diktat, we would have had three hours of nice family functions instead of elaborate sword fight sequences. To make things worse, Salman’s character in the film has poor digestion and eats only boiled food. And Sonam Kapoor seems happy taking nano-sized bites of cold jalebis. Not fair!
5. Where is Alok Nath? How can you make a sanskari film without the benign, agarbatti-smell-inducing presence of Alok Nath? The man who inspired a thousand memes would have been such a welcome addition to the cast. He would have chided Sonam Kapoor for her horny ways, pulled Niel Nitin Mukesh’s ears for trying to be the wicked stepbrother and turned Armaan Kohli’s nefarious manager into a benign shayari-spouting sidekick.
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