Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is directed by Sooraj Barjatya, the man who brought us films like Maine Pyaar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!, Hum Saath-Saath Hain, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon and Vivah. This is his first film as a director since Vivah in 2006 and he has left no stone unturned to make it as grand as possible.
The film is in every way a Sooraj Barjatya film complete with families that are as big as organizations, as colorful as the vibgyor and as “sanskari” as one can possibly be. This time they have also thrown in a dash of “maryada” to spice it up.
In the midst of all this grandeur is Barjatya’s Prem, Salman Khan. The man who has immortalized the character in every previous outing with the Barjaytas and who is so sanskari and pure that a look at his face will give you the kind of mileage that you get out of a visit to the holiest of the holy places.
This time around, he has two avatars. The story is that of a prince who is about to be crowned. He is engaged to another princess, Maithili (Sonam Kapoor) who is slated to be present at the coronation. As is customary there is the disgruntled brother (why doesn’t he clear my bills?) and the angry step sister (why doesn’t he call to stay with him at his palace?) who feel betrayed by the prince. One of them plans an assassination attempt on the man.
He escapes alive but is bedridden for a while. The coronation is in four days. His top advisor played by Anupam Kher who is called “Virgin Bapu” finds a simpleton who is the prince’s lookalike and is head over heels in love with Maithili to take his place and keep the prince safe as well as help in finding those who tried the assassination.
Thus Prem arrives at the fort and the Prince’s world doesn’t remain the same. He woos his girl like she was his, he donates his wealth like it was his to give and above all makes a caricature of the prince’s rather somber persona. All in the name of “Prem”.
The only plus for this 3 hour long drag is Salman Khan’s Prem. He makes you smile, he makes you dance and in some scenes he even makes you cry but, the director just doesn’t let those moments take their time to make the impact. He is so eager to start his next song in which to portray his cinematographer’s prowess that he completely ignores the magic that was just building up.
The film is tucked away far from reality and I am not even trying to get into it. We know that the Barjatya’s don’t make realistic films and they don’t understand the concept of poverty or for that matter want. It’s clear in their portrayal of the step sister who rents a palatial house and still cries about the hardship that she is going through. Those are just “LOL” moments as far as I am concerned.
The film also doesn’t pay any heed to the slightest bit of logic or for that matter reality. Characters turn bad and good at the blink of eyes or within songs and there is no reasons given for that. The film also boasts of one of the lamest baddies ever in the history of Indian cinema.
Armaan Kohli plays Chirag, the manager and friend of Neil Nitin Mukesh’s Ajay. I just couldn’t understand what he was planning to get out of the misunderstandings that he was creating. Frankly speaking his plans suck and they are just idiotic. He finally makes a buffoon of himself in the climax which I will leave out for you to enjoy first hand.
Sonam Kapoor is a Barbie doll with no expressions. She has all but three expressions which she displays on cues from the director. The fact that she is taller than Salman Khan also doesn’t help matters as they look terrible together. Salman Khan does well to even out her deficiencies with his class act.
The songs are way too many. None of them are great and they just go on and on and on. Everytime you think something worthwhile was going to happen, the actors jump into a song and dance routine. It’s really high time that mainstream Bollywood directors like Sooraj Barjatya grow out of this unrelenting habit of putting songs in the narrative where they are unnecessary. The biggest example here is the football match.
The film has its share of pluses like the scene where Prem wins back his step sister but that too is poorly acted by Swara Bhaskar who again spoils the good work done by Salman. The film is a picture of grandiosity. The cinematography is beautiful even though I noticed some unnecessary shakes in one of the scenes. The compositions highlight the best features of the locales and the sets. The editing is good.
Overall, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is a celebration of all the previous films of Barjatya with the plot and characters used only as excuses to realize the vision and set pieces of a man who is finally becoming repetitive. I will not be surprised if this film proves to be an all time blockbuster, going by the way Indian moviegoers act, but this is really not a good film. It’s too long, it’s boring and is laced with every imaginable cliché and repetitive stuff that we have seen in Bollywood family dramas since its inception. I am disappointed with this film.