RAB NE BANA DI JODI – 2008
The man that gave us DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGE, one of the longest running Indian films of all times, as well as MOHABBATEIN, a film that reinvented the clichéd Indian Love story… brought us another mind-blowing concept in his 2008 film, RAB NE BANA DI JODI… or at least, that’s what he intended.
1 out of 5 Moustaches
Veering away from the typical commercially huge and pretty fluttering hearts and roses style of love story’s that the Chopras are used to telling, Aditya Chopra tries something different with RAB NE… he shows us the lives of a normal middle class couple, with mundane lives and even more boring personalities. Through extenuating circumstances, Anushka Sharma’s character gets married to Shahrukh Khan’s within the first few minutes of the film. However she is not in love with him, her love passed away, so to keep her father’s dying wish, she agrees to marry SRK. Shahrukh Khan in this film plays a very subdued, somber, and uninteresting man.
Quite a departure from his usual portrayals. At first he really does an amazing job of playing down the larger than life ‘SRK’ personality that crowds the air waves with multiple television commercials, hoards of films, (even if he features in said film for 5 minutes of screen time) or intrudes upon the audience’s sensibilities during the takeover of an awards show. The Shahrukh Khan we all know is the one who will even play the larger than life characters and roles, regardless of how it’s managed to be squeezed into the story. But I was very surprised and impressed to see him play a typically normal, 90’s ‘stache sporting, thick glasses wearing, office casual with running shoes wearing, 9 to 5 desk jockey… whose life is as uninteresting as that description was. Although I felt that way for only about halfway through the first act.
Allow me to continue further with the synopsis. Once married, Sharma’s character is obviously depressed at having lost both her fiancée and father during the same time, and being married to a stranger. Khan’s character is quite distressed by this, as he truly does love her, in his own simplistic way and just wants her to be happy. She asks his permission to be part of a dance competition, as it’s her hobby… he agrees only to crash the competition himself in a totally different avatar. How? Well he shows up with designer shades, without mustache, and in the loudest and tackiest clothing known to man, along with a personality to match. He is such a different person in this look that his own wife is unable to recognize him and they end up becoming dance partners, through the same coincidence that drives Bollywood films. The plan is that Shahrukh Khan will pretend to be this other person with her to have her fall in love with him, since that’s the kind of guys she smiles at during Indian films with him. Because, well smiling = longing to love, as we all know.
Yea, I know… it makes no fuckin’ sense. His plan is to get his own wife—who’s been through so much trauma—to fall in love with him, by pretending to be a totally different person, not realizing that if she does fall in love with him, who she thinks is someone else… she is basically cheating on him, with him! Oh but there’s so much more nonsensery. She eventually DOES fall in love with this loudmouthed, obnoxious crazy clothes wearing dude (who is really her boring husband) proving her adultering nature, to which Shahrukh Khan’s character replies, that it’s not true love, as she’s in love with his alter ego, not him. So the plan works EXACTLY how he wanted, but now he sees the problem, near the end of the movie. BUT, afterwards, he decides to take her as is, and ‘run away’ with her from her husband, who is him, this time she decides that she actually loves her stranger husband, who’s been so sweet to her and been there for her during her time of need. Awesome.
Anyways… the whole movie plays like a non sensical piece of crap. All of the sort of sweet and innocents moments—like Khan’s initial portrayal of an awkward and loving husband who doesn’t quite know how to deal with this grieving stranger who is wife, so he leaves her notes, debating whether or not they should be accompanied by a rose, then deciding on not to—are completely overwhelmed by the retarded-ness of the entire story.
The performances are good, for all intents and purposes. Anushka Sharma’s debut was impressive, but her talents get submerged at the complete idiocy of her character being an ignorant and clueless moron. The moments where Shahrukh Khan plays his true role in the film, are endearing and subtle and devoid of the typical histrionics. Yet in this other avatar, he is so annoyingly crude and vulgar that it ruins the set up of his character… as you have to wonder how such an innocently sweet boring man is able to even pretend to be such an asshole, and even that SO quickly and naturally. The character has no evolution during the film; he just goes from crazy ass scheme to even crazier ass schemes. It would’ve been nice to see the character slowly grow from the unassuming mild mannered cubicle worker into this simple man who voices his feelings to this unknown woman he’s married.
RAB NE BANA DI JODI was a great opportunity to showcase a typical arranged marriage stereotype by having the characters fall in love not through the extenuating and coincidental circumstances that usually drive a Bollywood movie, but through pure emotional maturity and growth. The opportunity was even greater considering the stage for this story was grander than other Bollywood films with similar subject matter, as the cast and makers can be considered the heavy hitters of the industry. However, any opportunities for uniqueness or innovative storytelling were completely killed by having the film revolve around a damn gimmick.
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Were you as infuriated with `Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi`as I was?
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