Friday, September 09, 2011

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (मेरे ब्रदर की दुल्हन)

Don't Drop Me!

Yash Raj Films had with this production released two films in a row that are directorial debuts for assistant directors. Talk about a promotion of sorts for writer-director Ali Abbas Zafar who had to suffer a little bit of flak with calls from various quarters that his maiden effort had taken a leaf out of Peter Hedges' Dan in Real Life starring Steve Carell, but the truth is while the premise may be slightly similar with a man falling for his soon-to-be sister-in-law, I suppose that's generic enough as a formula, and its execution is anything but, done to typical Masala style in two halves.

Boasting the first time pairing of Imran Khan and Katrina Kaif, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan will probably set the stage for more pairings to come as both shared incredible, exuberant chemistry as friends turned lovers, radiating youthful energy and being in the same age group worked wonders since the big three Khans, all in the 40s, get frequently paired with younger heroines. I suppose with Imran's career getting a boost thanks to the awesome Delhi Belly, he'll probably give Ranbir Kapoor a run for his money as the next big male Bollywood star, with good looks and acting chops to boot. For now he's probably still typecast as the laid back, easy going boy next door as Kush, who's been tasked by his brother Luv (Pakistani actor Ali Zafar, not the director and of no relation) to help him find a wife, given a bad breakup which opens the film, and in some ways the writing was on the whole when Luv tells Kush they share the same taste, and whoever Kush finds, his brother will likely give the thumbs up.

It's a huge responsibility, so much so that in a film like this, it calls for a song and dance in the opening credits, spoofing some of the largest shows in recent years such as Dabangg making more than one reference throughout the film, Dil Se... in recreating the dance atop a train, and Jodhaa Akbar played more for laughs in a later song segment given Imran's less imposing presence compared to Hrithik Roshan in the Ashutosh Gowariker film. What you see in the trailer with Kush going around to meet up with various girls are just about what's included in the film, wasting no time before he gets a call from a diplomat asking for Kush and family to go over to meet his daughter Dimple Dixhit (Katrina Kaif), and in an instant when they meet we get transported back to some 5 years ago when they were still students, and living the crazy, carefree life.

If anyone remains unconvinced of Katrina's acting range, perhaps this role may change their minds a little, where her Dimple takes on the more carefree, cool as ice attitude in her earlier years as a rock chick, before deciding now to settle down, more for a package deal of something quite similar to the 5 Cs which is what Luv can provide, given the large ads Kush and friends had taken out in advertisements. Can't blame a woman for wanting to have it all, especially since coming from a physical pedigree as embodied by Kaif.

Director Ali Abbas Zafar utilizes the two halves structure well, with the first getting the leading characters to inevitably fall in love, rekindled from their strong friendship from the past, and the later half to try and untangle the mess they find themselves in, since the impending wedding between Dimple and Luv is moving at breakneck speed over the course of one weekend, and having to solution something that will leave no broken hearts, as well as in the Asian or Indian context, having to keep the honour on both sides of the family intact without a tinge of something scandalous as the cancellation of a wedding, or worst, the ideas of eloping which almost came to fruition.

While the romance were left to the many beautiful song and dance sequences to move that emotion forward, comedy comes in the form of the schemes being hatched and executed, and especially with Ali Zafar playing Luv as the typical himbo who has absolutely no idea that the rug was going to be pulled under his feet. While Dan in Real Life had a more emotional, dramatic core, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan played its events out in a very breezy fashion especially when Luv's ex Piali (Tara D'Souza) start to play a bigger role in what would be a win win situation.

I had enjoyed the dance scene in Dan in Real Life where Steve Carell took to the dance floor to battle his envy with the rest of the characters, and here that pivotal scene got naturally translated into a large item number. And unique to India and maybe even Asia perhaps, is how parents play such a huge role in weddings, and have significant say whether a union can happen since family honour is still something much to be defended by the clan. This gets played out enough times to hammer home the point, and the older generation's priority in the saving of face every step of the way, while serious in nature, do add some comedy on top of cultural differences to be aware of for someone watching this from a different country.

Hollywood romantic comedies don't possess as much spiritedness as the ones from Bollywood if the latter are done right, and in this case, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan scores in all aspects of romance and comedy, being a sheer delight to sit through, with adequate eye candy to boot. Recommended!

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