From near-demise to resurgence of the romcom – Band Baaja Baaraat!

Band Baajaa Baraat

When I saw the promos of Break Ke Baad (BKB) I knew to avoid it like the plague. No way could I take one more romcom with guys and girls cavorting about in trendy clothes playing at the game of love. Was the romcom as imagined by Bollywood truly dead? But strangely enough, I could pop in the Jab We Met DVD anytime and catch the shenanigans of Geet and Aditya. The promos of Band Baaja Baaraat (BBB) made it look like another chaotic romcom where someone had gone crazy with the colorwheel. I had read that it was about the wedding planning business – which raised horrific images of someone in BW trying to ripoff Jennifer Lopez and The Wedding Planner. Thankfully I was tracking reviews and went in to see this one!

It broke every romcom mold and started right off the bat with a very strong woman, who wants five years off from marrying so she can build a successful career as a wedding planner. And in the process she whips a wastrel, immature young man into shape. All Shruti Kakkad wants is to be a wedding planner and start with Mayur Vihar but eventually end up planning Sainik Farm weddings! And All Bittoo Singh wants is to not have to go back to Saharanpur, the sugarcane farm, and cutting “ganna”. For that he will even do “binness” with the scary Shruti. Thus starts a colorful adventure in planning and executing weddings, and scaling heights of success while taking care to never mix business with pleasure. Until the inevitable happens. The first half races along at breakneck pace with not one dull moment. The second half brings in conflict, some of it a bit extended, but leads to a resolution that is funny and sweet at the same time.

So why is this romcom special? Let me list the reasons:
1. Anushka Sharma as Shruti is the life and soul of BBB. She masters the role as though she is a veteran actor of many years, playing with panache all aspects of the character. She is equally at home eating bread pakoras off the street and dancing in a grand “spectacle” on stage.

2. The debutant Ranveer Singh takes on the role of the wastrel Bittoo and makes it his own. The actor has charm and charisma in equal measure, and is a welcome addition to the usual crowd of Bollywood insider kids. Hopefully this new kid will get a chance to show what he is really capable of.

3. The setting – no fake sets, no views of Qutab Minar and Delhi monuments. This is the real one, saaddi Dilli, with its crowded streets and neighborhoods packed with houses and people.

4. The dialogs (credited to Habib Faisal) – as Dilli as you can imagine. The film is packed with dialogs and accents that are so middle class you can smell the dust of the streets. This, coupled with the locations, makes the film very real.

5. The direction, by Manish Sharma, shows the attention to detail from someone who has put a lot of thought into his first born. These are not cookie cutter weddings – the street wedding is a normal street wedding, the farm house wedding is an upscale farm house wedding, complete with costumes, food, the package.

6. The music by Salim Suleiman is very good with two rocking numbers in Dum Dum and the piece-de-resistance Ainwain Ainwain Lut Gaya.

7. The story is engaging and kept me from glancing at my watch. I managed to enjoy the film despite about 15 kids running around in the theater while having loud shouting conversations, and a loud ominous ticking sound in the theater that never went away. I suspect the audience in desi films would increase manifold if only we had decent theaters and on site childcare!

Band Baaja Baaraat, despite its odd name, is a small film that simply works and will infuse some life back into the romcom genre that was in death throes after the inane Anjaana Anjaani and Break Ke Baad type fare. This one should not be missed – go see it now!

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