Mayank Shekhar's review: Band Baaja Baraat


Band Baaja Baraat
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Actors: Anushka Sharma, Ranvir Singh
Rating: **

If you bump into a bunch of young 'filmies' in Mumbai's western suburbs, you may be forgiven to believe you'd walked into a Delhi University alumni meet instead. Batches range from early '90s to late 2000s. Practically everyone working in movies these days seem to have once called Delhi their home. It's bizarre. Shah Rukh Khan, I suspect, was the catalyst -- not for their creativity, but their move to Bollywood.

Few of these filmmakers have turned directors by now (Dibakar Bannerjee, Imtiaz Ali et al), many are screenwriters (Jaideep Sahni etc), most make for young army of assistant directors working their butt off to tell a story they know best.

Delhi is what they grew up on, and know best. It inspires Mumbai movies. Repeatedly. This is not a surprise. The music bears a strong mix of Bhangra. Here of course, it sounds entirely a derivative of tracks from Dev.D (Pardesi), Tashan (Dil Haara Re), Delhi 6 (Yeh Dilli Hai Mere Yaar), Aisha (Mithi Mithi Bol)…. The dialogues are in colloquial Hindi, 'slanguage' more common to the north.

The hero of this subaltern imagination should be called Bunty. Always. He's Bittoo here (Ranvir, looks the part). He talks while he eats with his mouth wide open, has just graduated from Kirori Mal. His father owns sugarcane fields in Saharanpur that he'd rather not return to.

The girl (Anushka Sharma, incredibly at ease) is boisterously confident in her manners. Her professional ambitions don't interfere with her conservative personal dreams (kids, marriage, parents' happiness). She belongs to the Punjabi family of Kakkars from one of capital's old-world mid-class housing colonies.

Bittoo and Shruti start a successful wedding planners' "binness" right after finishing college. This is good move, no doubt, given a culture that perennially envies its neighbour, thrives on throwing money at weddings and other personal processions to show wealth off. The leading couple makes for an intelligent tag team. They pull off huge weddings, profit from people's vanities, stay professional with each other, truly enjoy their work.

A random one-night stand pulls them apart. They mix pleasure ("pyar") with business ("vyapaar"). Never the two should meet. The guy gets wary, the girl feels vulnerable. They split.

The nuances here, smartly written, are fairly known. Whether the act itself is complete parody, you will neither fully figure, nor frown much over. This world is any day more relatable than duffers drivin' around daddy's Ducati in downtown West, known to Bollywood NRIs alone. But the realism is pretty much where the enjoyment ends. Or begins.

This is still a fable around the macho hero and his bubbly heroine. There's already an issue if you hope this aggro Jat boy doesn't get the joyous Janakpuri girl. Ever. They should remain platonic friends. So here's a romantic comedy, when a comedy alone would have worked.

There's no proverbial chemistry between the leading couple, and that makes for a film of its own. Not this one. Another Delhi movie, maybe. "Love degi, degi love? (Will you give me love)," he seriously proposes. You know what the answer's going to be. But you want to laugh. Damn!