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Subhash K Jha Revisits Sooraj Barjatya’s Vivah Which Turns 17 On November 10



Sooraj Barjatya rectifies all the mistakes he made in his first two historic hits “Maine Pyar Kiya” and “Hum Aapke Hain Koun”. The sweet coyness and almost-unbearable bonhomie of his earlier films are replaced by a far more fluent and fertile imagination in “Vivah” which nurtures Barjatya’s idealistic, almost utopian view of a joint family.

Gone is the amateurish home-video feel to Barjatya’s earlier familial epics. Yes, there’s plenty of singing but blessedly little dancing in the long but satisfying drama of domesticated courtship.The simple charm of the boy-meets-girl story is laced with untold moments of absolute enchantment.

In his typical fashion, Barjatya weaves together special moments between the couple as they move in and out of the domestic flock. Thankfully the joint family is kept at a far more manageable level here than in his earlier movies.

There are no irksome broods of uncles and aunts who fill up screen space and the couple in love gets ample breathing space to let their mutual feelings grow in leisurely grace.

The old-world charm of an arranged marriage is depicted well by the lead pair (Shahid and Amrita) who go through the mellow motions of falling in love similar to the adventure of an unexplored journey.

The external detailing of a small dusty town near Delhi is done skilfully – the crowded gullies, urchins running after Prem’s (Shahid) car when he visits his in-laws-to-be, the sweet seller’s shop and the night-time bustle compounded by distant sounds of old Hindi film songs. Art director Sanjay Dhabade’s work is excellent.

The director’s sincerity of purpose shines through in every shot of the crowded but genial gully. Alok Nath has a perennial warm smile towards his surrogate daughter Poonam (Amrita) and Seema Biswas does the balancing act between a shrewd step-mom and a practical mother.

The enchanting relations between these characters, with a chirpy little sister (newcomer Amrita Prakash) thrown in for sisterly solidarity, are delightful.

But there’s more here. Barjatya takes hold of all the strands of bustling emotions and harnesses it into a narrative that is polished and absorbing.

Every component of his vision holds together with remarkable fluency. The dialogues are in fluent but understandable Hindi and talk about values that seem to have been lost in the melee of ruthless ambitions in big cities.

The film takes us back to small pleasures like the bride and bridegroom’s families sleeping on the floor, playing games together, their friendly banter and mutual respect.

But an unholy fire creates a crisis in the last half-hour. That’s when Sooraj Barjatya shows effectually how much he has matured as a creative artist.

The sequence where Prem marries Poonam as she struggles between life and death in her hospital bed is an expression of the purest form of romance. The drama at the end is handled with tremendous care.

“Vivah” is about the sanctity of marriage and the importance of commitment between two individuals. Yes, the central romance is naively visualised. But the sneaked-in romantic moments between the to-be-married couple and their stubborn resistance to modern courtship games makes you crave for the idealism that Barjatya portrays.

There is no physical intimacy between the two beyond a touch and no e-mail or mobile connectivity.”Vivah” is a delicately structured romance between a couple that decides to fall in love after their marriage has been decided by their parents. The supporting cast led by Anupam Kher and Alok Nath as loving and amicable fathers-in-law adds to the central romance.

The film predictably concludes with the marriage and the groom, on the wedding night, tells his new bride who suffers from burn injuries: “Come let me do your dressing.” As opposed to the traditional “undressing” on a wedding night.

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