By Hindustan Times
Review: Mere Brother Ki Dulhan
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Actors: Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif
“Bahut confused hoon, complicate ho raha hai (I’m confused, things are getting complicated),” says Imran Khan, who looks forever confused in this movie anyway. He’s talking to the girl who’ll soon become his brother’s bride. He could as well be talking to his audience that’s probably just as dumbstruck at the unnecessarily complicated, tiring, lame mess the hero finds himself in, merely to serve the purpose of an over-imagined plot.
Contrary to its title, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan isn’t really about a brother’s bride. At least not in the same way the Cher movie Moonstruck (1987; masterpiece, compared to this), or closer home, Onir’s Sorry Bhai (2008), were. The brother here (Ali Zafar; casual, charming) has met his girl once, for a few seconds, over Skype, or a computer window that suspiciously looks like an ad for a matrimonial website. She asked him a few “Koffee With Karan rapid fire round questions,” the final one of which was if he preferred underwear or no-underwear. London boy got bowled over, match was made, mandap’s ready.
The hero himself had hooked the two up, because the brother had asked to find him an Indian bride. He toured homes across Bhopal, Lucknow, Panipat etc, before placing a front-page jacket ad in a newspaper, with a poster of the prospective groom that left a suave diplomat impressed enough to pass on his beautiful daughter. That girl’s the bidi-smokin’ hot, former lead guitarist of a rock band. Okay. Seriously? I know we shouldn’t always test movies on bounds of reality, but then again, films like these can’t be about aliens either. That’s the basis of this Yashraj films’ big-ticket rom-com event picture of the year.
The two lead characters – the bride, and the groom’s matchmaking brother – it turns out, already knew each other from some camping trip or rock concert across the Taj Mahal in Agra, where the UK-born heroine was surrounded by weird blokes, doing the general fake-cool stuff, “Hey guys, woohooo… Woohoo, hey guys!” The girl was from Lady Shri Rao, the boy went to Keval Maro college (both puns on Delhi’s Lady Sri Ram and Kirori Mal).
“You think I’m a tart, bitch, slut?” she’d asked the boy after being attacked by a random rapist type in her tent. The hero had reasoned, “This is India, not London. Har desh ki ek soch hoti hai (Every nation has its own thought process).” The average Indian girl had “sharm, lihaaz,” was shy, meek; very different from her. So deal with it.
Hmmm. Don’t know what to make of this explanation, besides ignore it completely. For the sake of this film, suffice it to know this hero, and the heroine, are in love. They run away from the wedding venue once, shift the party to another city after, intoxicate the wedding baraat along the way, bring the brother’s girlfriend into the picture… The movie is so stretched from both ends, you could see it tearing apart from the centre. The couple’s clueless fathers look on like notable ‘sideys’ in suits. All good things come to an end. Thankfully, that’s true for things not so good as well.
You still have to give it to a few casting gems in this movie (hero’s buddies etc), some inspired dialogue-writing that captures the patois of India’s rustic North (one of them, “Bhabi badi frank hain,” rightly makes it to posters!). But what can you give it? Your sympathies, of course.
Katrina Kaif plays the said "rock chick". It’s hard to tell if her character’s restlessly rebellious, or plainly retarded. There's a thin line between the two, something that relaively similar, far more enjoyable, recent romantic comedies have managed to balance out incredibly well (Anand Rai's Tanu Weds Manu; Imtiaz Ali’s Jab We Met).
This is Kaif’s third outing at the theatres this year, the last being a quick ‘item number’ opposite Salman Khan in Bodyguard, before that, a fine role beside Farhan Akhtar in Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara (both commercial successes being as diametrically opposite to each other as the ‘70s screenwriter duo Salim and Javed’s sons!). This picture is almost entirely centred on her.
Though enough credit is never given to leading ladies in Hindi films, Hong Kong born, half Caucasian, half Kashmiri, Kaif possibly has the most impressive track record in Bollywood at present: 16 out of her 24 films have reportedly been hits! For all you know, this could well be another one. “Maybe I do have a knack for selecting the right scripts,” she says, in an interview to the Press Trust of India. That’s not true. If you’ve the patience, sit through this movie. You’ll know.