Soham Rockstar Entertainment & Soundrya Productions present “Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana”
Produced by: Vinod Bachchan & Deepak Mukut
Directed by: Ratnaa Sinha
Music: R.D. Burman, Kaushik-Akash-Guddu for JAM8, Arko, Raees-Zain-Saim, Anand Raaj Anand & Rashid Khan
Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Kriti Kharbanda, Govind Namdeo, K.K. Raina, Manoj Pahwa, Navni Parihar, Abhijeet Singh, Vipin Sharma, Nayani Dixit, Neha D. Bhriguvanshi, Alka Amin, Ajitesh Gupta, Neha Agarwal & others
Films that pick up on word-of-mouth from second or even subsequent weeks do keep happening now and then. In 2016, we had “Happy Bhag Jayegi” and there were many earlier examples, like “Judaai” in 1997, all the way back to the classic “Albela” in 1941.
And yet, nothing comes close to this film, now in its 4th week, which got a demand of 100 additional screens in week three! Intrigued, I went to watch it, for when it released and I was not in town, I skipped it on my return thanks to poor reviews as well as bad box-office. Its co-release, “Qarib Qarib Singlle” was mediocre, but initially did slightly better and also had better reviews, besides featuring Irrfan.
“Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana” joins the fairly long list of Uttar Pradesh-based issue-based entertainers of a light nature that have thronged 2017 with success, like “Jolly LLB,” “Badrinath Ki Dulhania,” “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha,” “Bareilly Ki Barfi” and “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan.” It has decided but accidental similarities to “Badrinath…” as it promotes gender equality, higher education and careers for girls, and an end-climax that has a slight déjà vu (again incidental rather than deliberate) to “Bareilly…,” besides the common hero of the latter, Rajkummar Rao being cast here against the other Kriti – Kharbanda, in place of Sanon.
It is in the script, watertight and gripping that the film scores, and once word-of-mouth happens, a good film will always score – to the extent of its face value. Rao has had a prolific innings this year, and he adds to his roster with his character of Sattu aka Satyendra Mishra, a clerk in a government office whose match is arranged with Aarti Shukla (Kharbanda), the daughter of a conservative, strict but affectionate father (Govind Namdeo).
Aarti is well-educated and has secretly applied for the PCS (Provincial Civil Services) exam. She passes on the day of her wedding, but sister Abha (Nayani Dixit) has come to know that Aarti’s mother-in-law (Alka Amin) will not allow her to work after marriage. This, even when Sattu has agreed to let her do a job when they have first met. Also, Aarti’s father has agreed to a 25 lakh dowry even when he cannot afford it – the demand coming more from Sattu’s mother and maternal uncle (Vipin Sharma).
Aarti’s supportive maternal uncle (Manoj Pahwa), mother and sister back her, and she runs away, helped by Abha’s husband (Abhijeet Singh). Aarti, hopelessly in love with Sattu, wants to call him desperately to explain, but is forbidden by Abha, who fears he is too much of a momma’s son. A devastated Sattu tries to contact her and cannot. The family gives Sattu’s clan the explanation that Aarti ran away because she opposed the dowry demand.
Five years later, Aarti, as an officer in Lucknow, is accused of taking a whopping bribe of Rs. 3 crore from a builder and the man examining her case is Sattu, now an IAS (Indian Administrative Officer), a higher qualification than her. Sattu uses this to avenge his and his clan’s humiliation, though Aarti swears she is innocent. However, there is a surprise dramatic development, and Sattu acquits her as he comes to know she is innocent and has also been framed.
This is where the film begins to stretch a wee bit in its 137-minute run: Sattu still hates Aarti on the rebound, but that is because he loves her intensely. Their families, hostile after the aborted wedding, have now come together and plot to reunite the former lovebirds. This last part could have been condensed to a crisp seven or eight minutes runtime or substituted by something logical and real.
Ballu Saluja’s editing is competent, even in the last 15 minutes. Like all the U.P.-based films this year, the technical side is functional and rightly does not dominate the storytelling. Director Ratnaa Sinha ensures a watertight script (Kamal Pandey) with sparkling lines, many of which are also cute. The only (and extremely) sore point is the disappointing music, especially in the overuse of Punjabi in a completely U.P.-ian milieu. When oh when will overdose end?? Otherwise, Sinha ensures a great array of performances as well. Rajkummar Rao etches another sharp small-town character, and is far better as the initially awkward, simple and besotted-by-Aarti Sattu. As the semi-villainous IAS officer, he impresses only in a scene or two. Kriti Kharbanda is as much a delight, in a far different way, than her namesake in “Bareilly…” and especially scores in the sequence where she accosts Sattu. This is her best performance to date.
Manoj Pahwa is effortlessly brilliant as her maternal uncle, and Govind Namdeo (what a pleasant shock for us!) underplays instead of his customary hamming. Nayani Dixit as Abha is a delight and carries a lot of the scenes she has, whether with Kriti (the pre-marriage scene where Aarti gets a call from Sattu) as well as with the seniors. Neha D. Bhriguvanshi makes a quick mark with her expressive eyes as Aarti’s friend who she helps, and Alka Amin and K.K. Raina as Sattu’s parents impress too, though Navni Parihar (Aarti’s mother) has nothing much to do, and Vipin Sharma overdoes his act.
Watch this endearing film for not only its virtues but also its cute quotient. In time, it should become a winner in the home-watching list. I, for one, would not mind revisiting it.
By: R.M. VIJAYAKAR