Prem Ratan Dhan Payo
Release Date: 12th November 2015
Time: 174 minutes
Director, Writer: Sooraj Barjatya; Music: Himesh Reshammiya;
Starring: Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Swara Bhaskar, Deepak Dobriyal, Armaan Kohli, Aashika Bhatia
This is not just a silly story, it’s a flawed, silly story dipped in gulab jamun ki chasni. It’s death with a thousand, slow, torturous cuts, and each cut is coated with sugar. It’s the same old, packaged as the same old – no attempts to give the story a modern twist – the heroine still simpers and makes semi-orgasmic expressions when the hero touches her and the hero still speaks as if he’s stuck in the black and white era. Nothing bad happens in the film, but everything occurs in agonizing slow-motion, with camera shots from three different angles, music at every turn and characters looking like they are all in a Maanyavar ad.
Salman Khan has two roles. For his first one, he doesn’t have to stray too far from his previous film (Bajrangi Bhaijaan) and is a Ram-bhakt, expert participant of his local village Ram-Leela. Who fell in love with a princess, Sonam, as she descended from the steps of a helicopter (impeccably dressed) while conducting flood relief operations for her charity. He decides he’s going to meet her (with his side-kick Deepak Dobriyal), as she’s going to attend her fiancée, a big-shot prince’s (the other Salman) crowning ceremony. However, evil forces are trying to take the life of this prince – there is a dastardly attack – and Ram-Leela Avatar is forced to step into the shoes of the Prince by the kingdom’s loyal advisor, Anupam Kher.
The Ram Bhakt soon realizes the Prince’s forte wasn’t human relationships – he has to mend quite a few fences – first with the Princess, Sonam, who’s mad at him for some past errors. Then with his step-sisters (Swara and Aashika) and then also with his step-brother (Neil). He proceeds to do this in full nautanki style, behaving illogically, inappropriately at every occasion. Like converting a formal function into a football match between men and women. Doing everything the Prince didn’t do – eat spicy food, cook, roam around with his fiancée etc. We then have a couple of very predictable twists, dealt with in an equally predictable manner – some tears, some muscles, some melodrama – followed by an even more predictable ending.
Sonam continues to irritate. And display her lack of acting prowess. The fact that she also looks less than half her hero’s age doesn’t help the film. Salman has either of two expressions in the film – one is his beatific one, with folded hands, asking for forgiveness / love / help etc (in the villager role). The other is angry (in the Prince role). Anupam Kher takes over the Alok Nath sanskaari role, while Neil Nitin tries unsuccessfully to look angry while leading the spoilt, rich lifestyle.
Nothing, of course, makes any sense. You can begin with the logical questions (what was the villain’s grand plan at the end?). And then ask a few existential ones (why does Sonam get so many roles despite her impressive failure rate and equally impressive lack of acting skills ? Or even, Why do films like this get made at all ?)
There are a few moments of mirth but they are too far and few and are sandwiched between many minutes of agony. Every scene is stretched, really ridiculous songs are inserted at every possible opportunity (there is one song – I’ve named it the chaatwala song – where basically Deepak Dobriyal and Salman recount all the different kinds of savouries you get in India), tears milked whenever the chance presents itself – and it’s really a gooey, syrupy painful film where the hero can do and experience nothing bad. Apart from his heroine.
My review of the film in one sentence is presented in this audio file: Click Here
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