Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is from the same actor-director team that gave us Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and though they also gave us the disappointing Mohabbatein, there was some hope that the duo would recapture atleast some of the magic of their first film. That hope remains for the first half of Rab Ne as the film takes an interesting premise and sets up some intriguing possibilities. But the direction it takes in the second half is a huge disappointment and completely dashes those hopes. And then some.
Rab Ne feels like it is confused about its tone. Shah Rukh's unbelievable transformation and Anushka's inability to figure it out place the film in the realm of fantasy and make us settle down for some fluffy entertainment. But the after-effects of the transformation are handled with a seriousness that belies the film's light-hearted start.
The film starts of with two very likeable characters. Suri is a shy, introverted 'Average Joe' who has a lot of love in his heart but has trouble expressing it (this is superbly showcased in the scene where he wants to weigh down a simple note with a long-stemmed rose but then decides again it and goes with a decidedly unromantic bottle). He understands Taani's troubles and is willing to give her the space and time she needs to connect with him. Taani, for her part, has just lost the life of her dreams and is stuck in a marriage thrust upon her. She understands that Suri loves her and takes small steps(like showing up at the party his friends throw for him) to make him happy but is unable to open up her heart and love him the way he loves her - and the way he wants her to. These are characters we can wish will overcome their problems and live happily ever after.
Its amazing that by the time the movie ends, we have come to actively dislike the same two characters. Suri misleads Taani by transforming into Raj and then pretty much turns into a sadist as he pulls her in two different directions and tortures her as she struggles with her feelings. Taani, for her part, never reveals that she is married until the last moment, spends most of her time with Raj and contemplates eloping. So we never see if Suri and Taani are made for each other and never root for them to be together. Suri's friend, played by Vinay Pathak, ends up being the only sensible character as he voices our doubts and questions and just like us, is exasperated when Suri doesn't choose the logical and obvious path.
For a film that equates love with God, Rab Ne treats the subject with utter disdain. It sounds ridiculous when Suri mentally tortures Taani and then reminds us periodically, with short monologues about his love for her, that he is doing it in the name of love and to make her happy. And after all the doubts and misgivings and mental anguish, Taani's moment of enlightenment about the man she loves comes when she opens her eyes at the Golden Temple and sees who is walking toward her. There are a few scenes - like the hilarious one where Suri has 2 dinners or the one where Taani tends to Suri after he is hurt - that illustrate love but these are hidden under too many scenes of chauvinism, sadism and just plain stupidity.
Shah Rukh subdues his usual mannerisms and is wonderful as Suri. But he makes up for that by hamming it up as Raj and is completely irritating. He just seems too old to be playing the boyish, flamboyant character and gets on our nerves instead of being charming. Anushka is rather plain-looking but fits the role well. Dance Pe Chance... is very catchy and a real dance song. Phir Milenge... doesn't really fit into the movie but is gloriously staged and well-written as it pays homage to some actors from the past with lines made up of their movie names. Haule Haule... and Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai... are melodious numbers.