A throwback to a bygone era - Vivah

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VivahGenre: Family DramaDirector: Sooraj BarjatyaCast: Shahid Kapoor, Amrita Rao, Alok Nath, Anupam KherStoryline: Will the citybred boy who gets engaged to a small-town girl pass the test of commitment? Bottomline: Soppy soapyBefore the 1990s, Indian filmmakers successfully packaged love stories because falling in love and getting the girl for the common man, was a mere fantasy in a system that dictated arranged marriages.The definitive climax for that era of anti-establishment love stories, was when the toast of the new generation, Aamir Khan, kills himself in the final frames of `Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.' Result: The new generation felt the angst, the old felt a little bad about love resulting in tragedy.Around the same time, another Khan, teaming up with a certain lesser-known Barjatya, made his debut, proclaiming `Maine Pyar Kiya' and started a trend that manufactured family consent for love.A few years later, with `Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge,' the third Khan emerged at the top, after his director Aditya Chopra cracked the most acceptable compromise formula: Romancing the West (all through the first half) and yet coming back home to win over the family, the Hindustani way (through the second half). The new generation loved the idea. The older generation let go. It was the ultimate fantasy: Parents sanctioning love marriages. A decade later, love marriages became passe.Scriptwriters began to face creative bankruptcy.There began the quest for the ultimate fantasy of this era.Money? Soon, there was a spate of heist and con films.Feeling-good? After all, society was infested with crime and negativity, you really needed a `Munna Bhai' to reassure you that life was still beautiful and Priyadarshan to give you a handful of mindless comedy for escape.After an overdose of crime, con, comedies and remakes, comes another experiment by the same guy who made `Prem' (love) acceptable and loved by the family, embraced by even the traditional.

The fantasy

cording to Sooraj Barjatya, the `arranged marriage' (`Vivah') is the fantasy. The only talking point here is that Shahid Kapoor does not try to be a Shah Rukh Khan, but tries to be a Salman Khan. Now, Salman is an actor who can actually deliver the flattest of lines with saintly reverence and strike a chord. Shahid, however, ends up looking like a lost puppy with a dry bone in his mouth. Amrita Rao is busy giggling. It is therefore left to Anupam Kher, Alok Nath and Seema Biswas to lend credibility to the acting department in this slow and soppy film further plagued by the music and song breaks.Having said that, at least a couple of Ravindra Jain's songs will linger in your head. Though there are a couple of warm moments apart from the familiar Barjatya touches, the film, at best works as a throwback to a bygone era. SUDHISH KAMATH



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