Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Through the first half, Shakun Batra’s romantic comedy “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu” follows an entirely predictable path — boy and girl meet, get drunk, get married and realise they don’t want to stay married. Circumstances dictate they must spend time together while waiting for their marriage to get annulled. At the interval, one of them even has the “I’m in love” epiphany.
Of course, you don’t mind the predictable storyline because there is zippy dialogue, some great writing and the performances are in tune with all of the above. So far, so good. But we all know the second half is where it gets tricky, and not too many film-makers know how to end well. Well, clear all doubts now. Batra is not one of them.
The second half of the film is even better than the first, because it adds an element of unpredictability to the mix of great dialogue, writing and acting — and what you have is a Bollywood rom-com that is funny, romantic and mature enough for today’s audiences.
Imran Khan plays Rahul, a poor little rich boy in Las Vegas, cowering from his overbearing parents and too “uptight” for his age, as a family friend tells him. He bumps into Riana Braganza, a scatter-brained, effervescent hair stylist, and on a drunken night out, the two get married. Of course, they wake up the next day with a massive hangover and the realisation they have made a huge mistake.
Ali Zafar’s “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan” is a slightly mindless but mostly funny rehash of an old romantic movie theme. Two guys, one girl, a wedding, lots of impossible situations and lots of songs are what make up this film.
Imran Khan plays Kush, a young Bollywood director entrusted with finding a bride for his London-based elder brother Luv (Ali Zafar), after the latter breaks up with his long-term girlfriend and decides he has had enough of relationships and wants to “settle down.”
Director Anand Rai’s “Tanu Weds Manu” is a romantic comedy about a meek doctor who falls in love with a feisty, rebellious Kanpur girl, as a result of which he finds himself in the middle of what can only be described as a sticky situation, and staring down the barrel of a gun.
R. Madhavan plays Manoj Sharma aka Manu, who in spite of having lived alone in London for more than a decade, wants an arranged marriage with a girl from the Indian heartland and falls in love with the first girl he sees, at one glance, while she is asleep.
There are many things wrong with Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji”, but the worst part is that nobody seems to have even bothered to rise above mediocrity in this excuse of a film.
Bhandarkar veers away from his “slice of life” style of cinema and moves to comedy, but it has the same clichés, the same dumbed-down dialogues, and strangely enough for a comedy, very crass humour that is more offensive than funny.
I have a serious complaint against lovers in Bollywood films. Even if they know where the other person stays and can easily deliver the “I love you” speech at the lover’s house, they insist on hanging off a cliff or climbing atop a bridge from where they can declare their undying love for each other. Don’t they realise how ridiculous it looks?
As you can guess, the above rant is inspired by a scene in Abbas Tyrewala’s “Jhootha Hi Sahi“, a dreary and dull rom-com that features perhaps the most wooden performances by a lead pair that I can remember and a lot of inane situations like the one described above.