Top

'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' review: Salman is real 'ratan' in this tradition-soaked romance

'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' review: Salman is real 'ratan' in this tradition-soaked romance

Source: Sonia Chopra

By: Sonia Chopra

Wednesday 11 November 2015

slider
Movie Title

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

Director

Sooraj R. Barjatya

Star Cast

Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh

Writer-director Sooraj Barjatya is back with a film that's all about loving your family. A film where characters are essentially black or white, where the villains are described as being "lombdi sa chaalak" (literal translation of cunning as a fox), where love is traditional and uncomplicated, much like the lovers themselves.

The film's title-inspired by the song 'Ram Ratan Dhan Payo' - refers to the wealth of love, as also the name of Salman's character. This is one of those titles that capsules what the film stands for in a single sentence.

So really, for the family audience, what's not to like?

First, there's Salman Khan, who is utterly becoming in his role as a modern-day Ram embodiment. No one can do the small-town bumpkin with a golden heart with more heart than him. If he was a Hanuman-devotee in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, he is the simple Ram-bhakt in this film. One, who sill refers to a helicopter as an "udan khatola".

An actor in the local Ramleela, Salman's Prem is a superhero of sorts. He can win the heart of an unwilling princess-often called a 'devi' (goddess)-in a heartbeat. He can bring a torn family together through some song-and-dance. He can lecture warring royal brothers on morality, while they set aside their swords to listen.

The romance has enough Ram-Sita references to give it a larger-than-life feel. It develops in a bitter-sweet manner, and is punctuated with a plethora of songs. The princess (Sonam Kapoor) is given a sorely one-dimensional characterization, and all we know of her is that she's kind, and devoted to Prem.

But then, that's true of almost all the characters that are devoid of any complexity. The good characters are all virtue; the bad ones are all vice. The only characters that do get a bit of layering are the royal siblings, who are frustrated at being denied what they feel is their rightful share.

Barjatya, who directed Vivah in 2006, is back after a nine-year hiatus. He sticks to his banner's strong point- of making film that celebrate family and love in their most traditionally aspirational form. Which means- the sisters adore and pamper the brother, the wife sacrifices for love, the villains are vanquished effortlessly.

Even in this film, the definition of love and the ideal role of each family member is clearly defined in traditional terms. There is no hint of modernism there, and there is an underlying sexism all through. Heck, even the shorts-wearing, football-playing sister is seen only in her lehengas after the family reconciliation. The princess does exercise her choice, but we wonder how empowering her 'choice' has been. Eventually Prem manages to tame everyone-only, his weapon is love.

Some highly improbable developments take place through the film, all buried deep under Salman Khan's easy charm. Sonam Kapoor is only fairly convincing in her role of a princess who falls for a pauper. The supporting cast does well, with Swara Bhaskar shining as the royal half-sister.

Prem Ratan... is visually arresting, especially when we see the visual flourishes like the "sheesh mahal" that is a maze in itself. But the film is marred by a rambling second-half that goes on and on, and an awful score that often sounds like a nursery rhyme tune.

Dialogue is interesting enough, except when actors leap out of their characterizations, and you have a royal say something like, 'Kya Yaar' or suddenly use casual, colloquial language.

The film's finale is dissatisfying on various counts, especially for the raw deal it hands over to one of the central characters. Do filmmakers really believe that vegetable-shopping is every woman's dream come true?

The film has its faults, but with Salman Khan's dual force (yes, he plays a double role), a lilting romance, and the ODing on traditional values – this one's sure to hit the right spots with the family junta. Salman is real 'ratan' in this tradition-soaked romance, likely to bring in enough dhan for the makers!

Rating: 3 stars