Band Baaja Baaraat

There was a time, not so long ago, when Yash Raj Films drew in the biggest stars, huge budgets and top technical talent. They flew them to an exotic destination, dressed the cast in designer wear, released some hit songs and presented a “proposal" film that was guaranteed to bust the box office. Then followed a period when this formula began to fail. Stories became hackneyed and borrowed from mediocre Hollywood films. Yash Raj Films stopped making a dent on the movie charts.

Forgettable: The first half is enjoyable, but the second half tests your patience as it stretches over a slim plot.

In the tradition of 1980s and 1990s films, the hero is given a soft focus, multiple-angled introductory shot in which Ranveer Singh is seen in a full morning stretch and beaming his recently bleached toothy smile that you tire of after some time. You know this is an actor who has spent hours in front of the mirror practising those shots, inspired by Shah Rukh Khan. He’s built his six pack and taken dance classes. And now it’s all paid off.

Along with the opening credits, you see shots of two students in a Delhi college. Gradually, you learn that one is Shruti (Anushka Sharma) and the other is Bittoo (Singh). They first meet when Bittoo and his gang of hostelite friends gatecrash a wedding for free food. She’s on the other side of the buffet service, keeping a check on the number of plates used, and identifies these boys as freeloaders. Bittoo is at once struck by her, locates her whereabouts and when his attempts at flirtation fall flat, he decides to offer his services as her business partner instead.

Shruti has a plan. On graduation, she will start her own wedding planning business called Shaadi Mubarak—because neither the recession nor inflation affects the business of weddings. Bittoo, the son of a sugarcane farmer, wants to find a way of staying in Delhi rather than be stuck in his father’s fields cutting cane. Shaadi Mubarak appears to be the only option he can think of. But Shruti has one condition: “No pyaar in vyaapaar"— in other words, no mixing business with pleasure.

You know exactly where this story is headed, except that it takes its time getting there. It takes many weddings in Janakpuri for them to reach Sainik Farms and then to that drunken moment of indiscretion and vulnerability which is the cocktail they were trying to avoid. Business and pleasure do not mix and the pair part ways.

Bittoo starts Happy Weddings to compete with Shruti, but without their partnership, the magic and energy of the weddings they plan is missing. Events flop, creditors line up and they are left with little choice but to reunite for the big fat seven-day many-crore Rajasthani wedding where the bride wants Khan to dance. When he is unable to make it, Shruti and Bittoo put up a show much to the delight of the guests. This big showcase song is highly forgettable though. In fact, besides Tarkeebein, the music is a surprising letdown from composers Salim-Sulaiman and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya.

In the first half, scenes of the camaraderie between Shruti and Bittoo and the building up of their business are enjoyable, but the second half tests your patience as it stretches over a slim plot. Fortunately, the leads share a believable chemistry and the setting stays true to its environment. You see flashes of the Delhi lovingly captured by writer-director Habib Faisal in Do Dooni Chaar, who is credited with screenplay and dialogues of Band Baaja Baaraat. So Bittoo speaks a smattering of broken English and talks with his mouth full. Singh makes a respectable debut, while Sharma plays Shruti with conviction.

The finesse and sanitization you associate with Yash Raj Films being substituted with a degree of integrity is the most interesting part of this film. Director Maneesh Sharma’s story is lean and the screenplay lax. It leads to periodic restlessness and makes the movie imbalanced.

Band Baaja Baaraat released in theatres on Friday.

- Udita Jhunjhunwala


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