Banner: Soundarya Production
Producers: Vinod Bachchan, Manju Bachchan
Director: Ratnaa Sinha
Music: Anand Raj Anand, Jam 8, Arko, Raees and Zain-Sam, Rashid Khan
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Kriti Kharbanda, Govind Namdeo, Navni Parihar, Manoj Pahwa, Vipin Sharma, K.K. Raina, Alka Amin, Nayani Dixit
Writer: Kamal Pandey
There are new-age relationships in movies, fun romantic comedies, passionate and emotional dramas and then there is the old-school Bollywood drama with a healthy dose of the PG-13 love story that we secretly crave for from time to time.
Debutante director Ratnaa Sinha’s Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana might not have taken us back there completely but it does a good job of reminding us of what we have been missing lately.
While 2017 has seen many films that explore the world of romance and marriage in small towns, this Rajkummar Rao-Kriti Kharbanda starrer is not as hatke as the others. It is honest in its simplicity but ends up being preachy in its long run of 2 hours and 17 minutes.
The story begins as Aarti Shukla (Kriti Kharbanda), an educated, wanting-to-be-independent girl from Kanpur meets Satyendra Mishra (Rajkummar Rao), a sweet, sensitive guy who is a government clerk. The arranged marriage meeting turns into a romance as the two fall for each other. Thirty minutes of cheesy, mushy love scenes later, which obviously include a sappy song, the bubble bursts but just for the parents.
Satyendra’s parents ask for a huge dowry, which Aarti’s dad agrees to, despite not having the money. Arrangements are made and the wedding is on schedule. Minutes before the baarat arrives, Aarti gets to know that she has cleared her PSC exam and can become a respected government officer. While Satyendra had no problem with her working after marriage, his family does not agree, and Aarti decides to run away from the wedding to follow her career.
A devastated Satyendra goes through heartbreak, social humiliation and financial problems. He transforms himself into a suave, English-speaking IAS officer and, 5 years later, decides to take revenge on the girl who broke his heart. How this revenge story unfolds and how it affects Satyendra and Aarti forms the rest of the story.
The plot is simple but the director has tried to inject too many social issues into one film. From gender equality to dowry to bribery to sexism, Sinha attempts to address too many of the social ills plaguing our country all in one go. While this may have looked good on paper, it just doesn’t work on celluloid.
On the plus side, the small-town wedding looks very authentic. It compels you to ‘attend’ the wedding and join in the festivities with all the pomp and fervour. Also, Sinha manages to get the emotions of the protagonists right. From their starry-eyed courtship to the intense revenge drama mixed with residual love, everything is on point.
The songs in the movie blend with the storyline, playing in the background along with the sub-plots of romance, drama, heartbreak and celebration. While the editing could have been a little crisper, cinematography by Suresh Beesaveni beautifully captures the essence of small-town India.
The dialogue is well written. The story, penned by Kamal Pandey, is basic and first-time director Ratnaa Sinha tries to make it different from what we have seen before. While this film is no masterpiece, it is a pretty entertaining, Indianised version of a Mills & Boon love-hate story.
Performance-wise, Rajkummar Rao, as always, steals the show without even trying to. His performance as an awkward lover boy and a hardened, cynical man is flawless. Kriti Kharbanda starts well in the first half but her acting dips in the second half, when the emotions get complicated. Govind Namdeo is good and so is Navni Parihar. Manoj Pahwa and Vipin Sharma are excellent. K K Raina holds his own quite well while Alka Amin is decent. Nayani Dixit suits the role of the elder sister. The rest of the supporting cast is average.