Mawidge...Mawidge is what brings us together
-- the impressive clergyman (The Princess Bride)
[January 07, 2007] One could think of a few reasons why Sooraj Barjatya would want to unleash upon the modern masses a film like Vivah that lives in a sandbox of the yesteryears, of the innocence of the family dramas of the 70s and the early 80s, of the simple events that formed the foundation of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's canon. The most important one is to ensure that Alok Nath continued to receive a welfare cheque (this was before Rajshri took over the idiot box and sent Alok Nath back to where he came from, plumper, older, slower and donned in garbs so ornate as to put Sanjay Leela Bhansali's costume designer to shame). A minor reason is the warped sense of the world that Barjatya nurses. It's a world without shades; there is only good and evil (which can be counted upon to repent and come over to the good side in less than 3 hours). It's a world where emotions are thicker than the pancake syrup in Waffle House or IHOP, sweeter than the most generously glazed doughnut from Krispy Kreme. It's a world that should simply cease to exist. It's a regressive nightmare that purports to offer a form of optimism that is more dangerous than the darkness nihilistic cynical view of the world you might find.
The film has very little to hold your attention. The script is a poor blend of Satyam Shivam Sundaram, tired dross of love without event and Rajshri tropes. The songs are terrible (Ravindra Jain, who delivered many a memorable song for Rajshsri products in the past, does his reputation a great disservice), the sets are a tribute to unsubtle artifice, there is nothing you can call "acting" (although there's a lot of blah-blah, posing, glaring and gesticulation) and there are musical cues added to underscore moments of "comedy." The events, as they are, occur in fictional places named Madhupur (if only someone had renamed it Sweetwater in the subtitles) and Somasarovar (Lake Luna, people).
If you care about subtitles, watch out for (sister:sister) (sister-in-law:sister-in-law), soiree (for संगीत). If you care for lazy background scores, keep your ears perked up for the Doom fireball sound as the camera tracks the fire.
Just in case your dropping jaw made you forget who was responsible for this Clockwork Orange Cocktail, the protagonist is called Prem, there's a wedding at the heart of it all and there's a wedding band playing दीदी तेरा देवर दीवाना. If you missed the presence of his lucky mascot, watch out for a poster of Salman Khan in a phone booth as well as two posters of Saawan ... The Love Season (yes, that film with the crazy song).
Mercifully, neither Herr Nath nor Herr Barjatya have dared another big-screen venture. Unfortunately, they decided to take their terror to the glass teat. Luckily, I don't watch TV.