The latest Yash Raj production begins with a breakup, treads cautiously towards an engagement, witnesses that breakup, and ends with the union we were guaranteed the minute the stars were signed on. (When you have Imran Khan and Katrina Kaif in a film, and the triangle is completed by Pakistani pop star Ali Zafar, you know that Katrina Kaif is not going to end up with Pakistani pop star Ali Zafar.) There is pleasure in predictability, no doubt, the sort of feeling that envelops us as we sink into a warm bath or taste a spoonful of vanilla ice cream – but this romcom is an affront in almost every sense. Badly plotted, badly staged and badly performed, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan is almost worth watching for the smouldering train-wreck that is Kaif’s performance. This actress was never known for her acting, true, but in films like Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, we sensed a smattering of screwball spirit. Asked to summon that same spirit here, Kaif unleashes a performance that would make Priya Rajvansh, circa Hanste Zakhm, turn green with unconcealed envy (or sickness, or both).
The standard romcom tropes are trotted out with a dull sense of duty, as if to omit such scenes would result in a court martial by a jury headed by Kate Hudson and Sarah Jessica Parker. Rarely has a romcom felt so unrommy and so uncommy, and I say this as someone who thinks 27 Dresses is a blasphemously underrated instance of the genre. The only thing worse is the constant invocation of songs from an older era – mostly by RD Burman, who’s fast becoming a lazy touchstone to announce a filmmaker’s veneration of Hindi film music – under the assumption that the sight of someone in a burqa accompanied on the soundtrack by Parde mein rehne do is automatically amusing. Not a single scene screams “love” – or “affection,” or heck, “like” in a Facebook-y sense – and we have not the slightest investment in anyone’s romantic plight. The second half is marginally better, but it does not have the blood-curdling sight of an inebriated Katrina enacting the “soocide” scene from Sholay – in other words, the wholly meta implication of a bad actress pretending to be a bad actress under the influence of alcohol. By the end, it’s the audience that needs a stiff drink.
Copyright ©2011 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.