Vivah. The name itself says it all. In today’s age of using English titles and titles like Shaadi no. 1, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, there is a film with the title Vivah, which is as chaste as you can get. The name symbolizes a chaste Indian film, but does it work? That’s a question you will have to answer yourself after reading this humble piece.
There are two ways you can look at Vivah. The first is the obvious cynical way, wherein this movie would be like a pseudo-real Indian traditions movie with no negative characters, and everyone as good as you can get (rather, such good people don’t exist today). The second way would be two look at it from the inherent goodness present in us, which makes us feel the world can be so simple yet so good, a feeling similar to Lage Raho Munnabhai. I chose the second view.
Welcome back Soorajji! Vivah should have been made instead of the “trendy” MPKDH. But then, I guess MPKDH works to Vivah’s advantage by lowering our expectations from the film. Let me make it clear, this movie is not a patch on MPK or HAHK, two of Soorajji’s classics. But then, that’s why the two previous ones are classics in the first place, you just cant have such movies again!
The story is simple. Two Indian families, one based in Delhi (rich, but very humble and down to earth), and the second based in Madhupur (not so rich, but honest and good); boy (Shahid Kapoor) from the rich family, girl (Amrita Rao) from Madhupur; their marriage is fixed in the arranged marriage way, where a third person known to both families gets the ball rolling; boy first sees the picture of the girl, then meets and “sees” the girl, they talk for a while, and after those 10-15 minutes, they decide whether they can be life partners or not. As unbelievable as it may sound to some, this is very true for most Indian middle class families. The marriage date is then fixed after 6 months (in this case) and Vivah shows the development of a relation within those 6 months, right till the Suhaagraat! It also tells the tale of acceptance of a child by her mother. And how beautifully it does so!
The first half is a breeze, and you don’t realize that interval is just round the corner. Sugar coated scenes and dialogues, extremely honest and simple characters, and very nice songs. There is a constant smile on your face throughout the first half, with occasional bursts of laughter. None of it seems forced, it all flows smoothly. There is the engagement scene, the family holiday, nice songs, good locales, but all presented in a simplistic and believable manner. Nothing is over the top, the treatment is most realistic. The only complain is such characters are hard to find in today’s times. But then again, this is acceptable, since we all desire, in some corner of our heart, to be perfectly good, to have such a great family.
The first 20-30 minutes of the second half looks a bit contrived, but from there on the movie really catches you by surprise. The real “twist” in the smooth story starts during the last 40 minutes or so, and from there on its an emotional ride. I wont divulge any plot details so that you enjoy the movie completely.
There are just about 10 main characters in the movie, which helps the flow of the movie. There is not a single negative character, though one of them shows some human traits of jealousy and insecurity. There are no pets aka Tuffy or Parrots or whatever, and there are no extended family members and friends.
Coming on to the performances, Amrita does very well as the simple and shy Indian girl from a small town. Her expressions, her getup, her nuances, her dialogue delivery are just perfect. The only grudge is she looks too thin in the movie. A little weight would have made her more authentic. Shahid as the city bred traditional family guy is awesome. This is indeed his best performance so far. His eyes speak more than his words, which is to his credit, and an achievement for Soorajji’s. Shahid is sure to be nominated this year in the awards. Aloknath as Amirta’s uncle-cum-father is like he usually is in all Rajshri movies. Another nice endearing portrayal from him! Anupam Kher as Shahid’s father does well too, as a rich business man who is humble to the core. Samir Soni as the elder brother of Shahid does not have much to do, but his newspaper antiques are genuinely funny! Shahid’s bhabhi’s part is well enacted by the actress (sorry for not knowing her name!). Seema Biswaas as the insecure chachi of Amrita is the only not so good character in the movie, and she does complete justice to the role. Shahid’s nephew, the small kid, looks cute and delivers some funny lines very well. Manoj Joshi does well as the jeweler who brings together the two families for the Rishta. Amrita’s sister is good too.
The real winner is Sooraj Barjatya, who writes a simple story and then portrays it in the most honest way. Dialogues by Aash Karan Atal are very real and good natured, and they propel the movie in a big way. Cinematography could have been better, comparing it with the current trend, but then again, it suits the movie overall. Music surprises you when you watch the movie, because it is so well integrated with the movie! The songs are pleasing to the ears, and Mujhe Haq Hai stands out. The tunes are melodious and Indian, and work with the movie on the whole. At 2.45 hours, the movie just about manages to be not long. I don’t believe editing could have been crisper. Costumes too, are straight out of real life, and suit the characters. Credit must be given to Soorajji for choosing his locations. The locations are seeped in Indian traditions.
Honesty, sincerity, trust, sacrifice, jealousy and insecurity are portrayed in true traditional manner by Soorajji. There are trademark one liners: “Main tumse shaadi ke mauke par ek tohfa mangtaa hoon. Mujhe apna dard de do!” Simple yet amazing. This is where the movie succeeds. It connects with your heart, your inherent but buried nobility. It reinforces your belief in all the morals and values you have grown upon, without being preachy. It makes you trust the human nature in general, without being dramatic. Soorajji reinstates our faith in him with Vivah. The Rajshri house can proudly claim Vivah as their comeback.
Overall, Vivah is a perfect family film, which makes you feel good about yourself, about people around you, and about the world in general. It is not a classic, but it is close. There are some flaws, but you can overlook them easily for the noble purpose of the film overall. Above all, it makes you believe in an arranged Vivaah yet again!