Review: Vivah
Vivah (romance) 
Cast: Shahid Kapur, Amrita Rao, Aloknath, Anupam Kher 
Direction : Sooraj Barjatya 
Poonam (Amrita Rao) is an upper middle class girl who lives in the small town of Madhupur with her uncle (Alok Nath) and his family. Where on one hand her uncle has fostered fatherly love on her, her chachi (Seema Biswas) has been unable to accept Poonam as their own child because she is more beautiful than her own daughter Rajni (Amrita Prakash).Poonam's simple and affectionate demeanor touches the heart of Bhagat ji (Manoj Joshi), who plays the role of a matchmaker. Bhagat ji takes Poonam's marriage proposal to Mr. Harish Chandra (Anupam Kher), a renowned and affluent New Delhi businessman, for his son Prem (Shahid Kapoor).
Prem is a young, soft spoken, charming and well-educated scion of the Chandra family. Prem is initially taken aback by the idea of marriage and feels he is too young for marriage and needs to focus on his career first. Nonetheless he is respectful to his father's wish and agrees to meet Poonam. 

There's something about Sooraj Barjatya. Something uncanny. The man ostensibly tries to talk about the beauty of Indian traditions, customs, rituals, morality, chastity, purity, spirituality, virginity, family, clan, nation...Ostensibly, everything's that good and great, needed and wanted. Then why do we end up feeling that all these hallowed words are actually a synonym for 'regressive'. 

Sample this. Midway between his murmurings (yes, Shahid Kapur literally murmurs through the entire film, and we'll tell you why later), the groom-to-be realises that he is always talking, oops murmuring, about himself. Why don't you tell me about yourself, about your feelings, your mindset, he asks his betrothed (Amrita Rao). Hm! Good observation. Well, the betrothed opens her eyes (yes, she keeps them closed whenever the guy talks to her), clears her throat and says: "Today, while serving pakodas to chachaji, I felt like crying!" That's the first time she talks about HER feelings. Need we say more. 

So, as we pointed out, Sooraj Barjatya actually has noble intentions. He wants to make a film about the sanctity of arranged marriages in an age when marriage — of all kinds — is becoming an endangered institution. But we, the poor janata end brainwhacked with endless hosannas to the 'ideal' jodi: a guy who mumbles because his bride-to-be might faint if he spoke in normal tones (can you imagine what she'd do if he behaved like a normal new millennium dude?) and a girl who doesn't think it's right to communicate with her fiancee neither through SMS nor e-mail. The rest, let's just leave unsaid. Specially since, her most intelligent statement is about how one should not drink iced water during a cold. Like his earlier films, the film serenades the small town girl once again as the epitome of virtues as opposed to the contrasexual cosmo gal. But unlike his earlier films, which somehow managed to ride on the charisma of Madhuri and Salman, Vivah almost suffocates you with it's holier-than-thou attitude. 

More importantly, the film has no story whatsoever and is just a plain and simple documentation of something as banal as an engagement to a vivah , interspersed with the usual picnics and clandestine rooftop trips. All this unfolds against a 'divya vatavaran', (spiritual environment) as the hero puts it, with the heroine serving umpteen glasses of 'jal' to the sundry chahchaji , chahchijis , bhabhijis ... For those who still like their cinema smelling of Savlon, Vivah is a one-call stop.
Director Sooraj Barjatya has regained his lost touch. He is definitely relevant in this era of remakes and glitzy fare. He has got all the right ingredients for the family audience (especially the ladies of the house) to come and watch it in hordes. Yes, it moves at snail’s pace at most times but then even ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’ was a long marriage video which was widely appreciated by masses. Somehow we Indians love to revisit our culture again and again. And ‘Vivah’ offers that to a great extent. If you are a sucker for romantic ideals about love, marriage, joint families, good values and lots of music, then ‘Vivah’ is for you. You shall emerge nice and happy out of the theatre. But please leave notions like realism, plausibility, practicality etc. outside and just have a good time. Can anyone book tickets for me to Somsarovar (Oops….it was Nainital)?


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