Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rab Ne Bana Jodi

My first Bollywood movie in over a year!

It was fortunate that the movie, Rab Ne Bana Jodi, was playing at the Union Station theaters in Washington, DC. They were much easier to reach than Laurel, Maryland or Virginia theaters. But, the movie was not advertised well at this location, so very few people came to the showing on a Tuesday night.

During the movie previews, I was happy to see that Hrithik Rosan has a new movie, New York, coming out. But, I was disappointed in Aamir Khan's new release, Ghajini, because its storyline looks so much like Momento.

My first reaction to Rab Ne Bana Jodi was-- Shah Rukh Khan with a mustache? SRK's character, Surinder, was a studious, office worker at Punjab Power. SRK's co-star, Anushka Sharma, played Taani, the daughter of an old friend of Surinder. They met briefly during her wedding celebrations.

Rapidly the movie introduces the story's central conflict. Taani's fiancee is killed in an accident on the eve of their wedding.

This tragedy is too much for Taani's father. He has a heart attack and from his hospital bed, he asks Surinder to marry Taani and also asks Taani to accept Surinder as her husband. Both accept the offer but for different reasons. Surinder has fallen in love with Taani and in Taani's grief she agrees to please her father.

Surinder's character shows his sweetness, consideration and devotion when he brings Taani, now his wife, home. He gives her his bedroom while he sleeps in the attic. He makes no demands on her.

Surinder goes to work everyday and Taani faithfully cleans the house and prepares his meals.

Soon Surinder's friends finds out about his marriage and complicate his life. Surinder's best friend learns that Surinder loves Taani but she says she can not return his love.

Soon, Taani seeks a relief from her boredom and asks Surinder if she can take dancing lessons. He agrees.

Surinder's friend, Bobby, helps Surinder transform himself into Raj, a happy-g0-lucky guy who joins Taani's dancing class. Eventually, the two become partners. At first, Taani keeps the relationship formal but because Surinder as Raj wants to see Taani happy, he jokes with her and coaxes her to join him in other activities. Soon, they are spending a great deal of time together.

When Surinder comes home late from the office, he claims he has a lot of work and will be late alot. Taani doesn't seem to care.

In his attempt to reach out to Taani as himself, Surinder takes her to the movies. There the movie itself becomes a movie within a movie. In some cases, Taani sees Raj on screen talking to her. Other times, Taani sees Raj dancing in elaborate routines with a bevy of beauties including some familiar faces.

It was during these scenes, I missed a large audience because I was the only one clapping or cheering when I recognized some of SRK's former co-stars. The choreography was elegant and extravagant much like western movies old musicals.

In real life, Surinder as Raj struggles to act cool, even his t-shirt announces, "Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime." It's funny to see Surinder try to overcome his clumsiness.

All of Surinder's misguided efforts are to make Taani happy but how can a massive deception like this achieve that goal? When in the end, Taani falls in love with Raj but not Surinder.

How the movie resolves this dilemma does not satisfy me. While I appreciated the sentiment that love happens when you see "god" in the other person.

Surinder was willing to give Taani up to a fantasy to make her happy. Slowly, Taani begins to realize how much Surinder has done for her.

I don't like being a critic. Who am I? I've never put a pen to paper to write a screenplay. I would never get in front of a camera. So what do I say when I liked 98% of the movie, yet wonder about the 2%? One thing is while Anushka is an attractive capable actress, I did not feel any chemistry between her and SRK.

There was something reminiscent about this movie. While most movies are a rehash of the same stories over and over. I felt that this movie took a truly sensitive subject and failed to let the main characters connect in a real way.

While the movie told the story of one man's love in a simple manner, winning his love's heart was complicated, confusing, and deceptive.

In a way, it was a man's movie that said, "love me as I am." In another way, it was a woman's movie that said, "Love me as no one else can."

While Taani had little opportunity to get to know her groom before their marriage and she made little opportunity after. He was a quiet, shy, introverted, good-hearted person. She had been a loving, happy, outgoing person. They deceived each other.

Yet, when a man loves a woman, he tries at times to be more than he is, he tries to be something she can admire. He explores the brave, poetic and romantic in himself.

I wish I could have seen her explore her role as a wife and a woman in a marriage.

Aditya Chopra: Director, writer, producer
Cinematography: Ravi K. Chandran
Choreography: Shiamak Davar, Raibhavi Merchant
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma and more

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