One wonders what Sooraj Barjatya was up to when Salman picked him out of obscurity to helm whatever this movie is. He is for all intents and purposes a walking talking 90’s nostalgia bomb, and not the one we liked either. Barjatya has been on autopilot for the last decade or so with the two Vivaah films and the atrocious Mein Prem Ki Diwani Hoon(“AUNTY WOHOOOO!”, screams Hrithik Roshan as he swings on a rope to aforementioned Aunty) being the only projects worth remembering and definitely not for the right reasons.
But now it’s 2015 and he’s bringing back some good ol’ “Prem” into our lives with Bhai as the protagonist of his latest magnum opus, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. When the Prince of Pritampur has a near fatal accident, his “entourage” led by Anupam Kher, decide to enlist the help of Prem Dilwale, a local theatre performer that bears a strong resemblance to the prince. Along the way, Prem falls in love with his estranged bethroed(Sonam Kapoor), brings the family together and several other things you would associate with a Barjatya film. Now, does it reach the dizzying heights of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun or does it plumb the depths of Hum Saath Saath Hain(This is beginning to sound more and more like an episode of Pretentious Movie Reviews)? I decided to find out.
Nope, this film is quite bad.
To be fair, the first half is surprisingly alright. I walked in with this sense of dread that Barjatya was going to unleash all his pent up Barjatya-ness that he’s been holding onto for the last couple of years. I hate that in Bollywood it’s actors who call the shots and not the director but in this case I’d like to make an exception. It’s pretty evident in the first half that Salman is doing his best to restrain Barjatya in an effort to make the film, watchable to say the least. If each shot had a voice of it’s own, the words “Sooraj, NO NO NO NO.” would be bouncing off theatre walls all across the country.
But when the second half kicks in, does Barjatya decide that he’s had enough of Salman’s shit and he decides to go.. “The Full Barjatya”.The Full Barjatya much like it’s Hollywood cousin, “The Full Retard” is the death knell of movies. When your film’s gone “The Full Barjatya” you know you’ve royally shat the bed.
The second half is a prime example of why no one’s given Barjatya movies over the last decade or so. It’s so over the top and not in a silly way; It harkens back to all the 90’s gimmicks that made you cringe and squirm in your seats. For example, no one today is going to find the whole lead actress running up three flights of stairs and hugging a pillar after a romantic exchange with the hero, sweet. Instead, they’re going to be looking at it and thinking, “eh, what a dumbfuck.”
This and more. Oh so much more. An assault on the senses would be putting it lightly. Sooraj Barjatya must really like sports, cause he manages to incorporate one in every movie of his to a point where the entire audience is pleading with him to stop. Thank the heavens he didn’t helm Lagaan, one wonders how that would’ve turned out. The supporting cast is not much help either. Deepak Dobriyal is so over the top in the few scenes that he’s in; Neil Nitin Mukesh who I loved in Johnny Gaddar, puts in a performance that vindicates everyone who wished he hadn’t landed a part on Game of Thrones(There is a scene in the film where the royal band is playing The Game of Thrones theme. This movie, man). Arman Kohli just looks happy to be working again and at one point shows up in his Jaani Dushmann hood(Seriously, this is not an advert for PMR).
Anupam Kher is Anupam Kher, whose true talent these days can be viewed on stage rather than on screen as he sleepwalks through yet another film. But they’re atleast bearable. Sonam Kapoor is not.
In a film so ridiculous, it takes something special to detract from the ongoing proceedings. Ms Kapoor’s sense of style is immaculate and it always has been. Her acting chops considering her family background are far from it. Either she couldn’t give two shits about this movie and decided to phone it in or she just can’t act at all, cause she is horrendously bad in this film. Every time she has line or two, she takes you out of an unpleasant situation into an even more unbearable one. If the film is the frying pan, she’s the fire.
Then there’s Bhai.
Not going to lie, I didn’t mind Bhai’s last outing in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. It was corny but it was enjoyable to say the least. Bhai’s been going through a phase where he’s been doing his best to clean up his image by playing the lovable buffoon in his last few movies. Once again here, he’s the best part of the film, a vehicle only he’s capable of carrying and he knows that.However towards the end, the film gets so bad that even he with all his powers of recovery is incapable of stopping it from crashing and burning. The more you think about it, the clearer it becomes that this was done more as a favor to the flailing Barjatya banner.
In the end, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is what you all thought it would be; ridiculous. The first half showed signs of promise right before Barjatya decided to roundhouse kick Salman Khan’s ideas in the face to leave you with a second half so terrible that you’d wish you’d have stayed at home and watched reruns of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. Trust me, not much has changed with the Barjatya banner since. Grow up Rajshri, the world has.
P.S: There’s a special place in hell for all those idiots who’ve been bombing social media with the title track 0f this film.
Ah crap, it’s stuck in my head again. Goddammit.