Director: Sooraj R. Barjatya
Cast: Shahid Kapur, Amrita Rao, Anupam Kher, Alok Nath, Seema Biswas, Samir Soni, Amrita Prakash, Lata Saberwal, Ameya Pandya, Dinesh Lamba, Manoj Joshi
Songs beget tears, tears beget songs —that’s the scheme of things in this Rajshri offering too, the journey from engagement to marriage. But this time it looks like Sooraj Barjatya has regressed. His Vivah lacks pace. The characters are flat. The songs are insipid. He avoids the extravaganza in a bid to show middleclass values, hence the attraction of the larger-than-life perspective is lost.
Comparison with his breakthrough film Hum Aap Ke Hai Koun..! is unavoidable. While HAHK went through two engagements and marriages, 14 excellent songs and the dramatic masterstroke of a sudden death had people wetting at least 14 handkerchiefs, Vivah takes just a slice of it and stretched it to about the same time, making it tiresome. At a time when old films are being souped-up to look smarter, Barjatya’s Vivah goes back to the 90s look. Moreover with the Balaji tirade on television this theme has become a daily soap affair.
If Prem is supposed to be such a shade-less, passive character, most agyakaari, with no will of his own, then Shahid did a good job. Amrita Rao as Poonam goes back to the era when heroines came onscreen with lowered eyes, barely audible voice, and the only apparent show of emotion being sorrow. The rest of the Rajshri crowd from Anupam Kher to AlokNath is just a replay. Seema Biswas stands out by her performance and is the most human of all the characters present.
The story is rather weak and improbable in this century. The youngest son of a big industrialist readily agrees to see a small-town girl at his father’s behest. On their first visit they get engaged. They communicate through letters, occasional landline telephones, and are allowed a visit or two on the rooftop or near the lake but always with a chaperone. A sudden fire on the wedding day burns Amrita badly and Shahid arrives at the hospital to marry her, accompanied by his family. And of course there’s no opposition from anyone.
So the big social message for all husbands and their parents is to be kind and loving to their wives/daughters-in-law respectively, irrespective of their looks or social status. Now that’s the crux of the story. But the message was lost in transit — actually lost in the long tedious journey from engagement to marriage.