The film opened with a serene shot of the Golden Temple in Amristar. That's the thing with Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi -- it transports you into its world immediately. Next, you see slice-of-life vignettes of the city: the traffic, two portly cops chatting, the halwais and the crowded train station. At the station, we see Surinder Sawhney (Shah Rukh Khan) and his new bride Taani (Anushka Sharma) awkwardly alighting from a train. Surinder is a geeky sort-- he carries an office bag that proclaims `I work for Punjab Power', wears worn-out sneakers with his shirt-pant ensemble, is possessive about his outdated moustache, and sticks to the dull frame of his glasses. He met sprightly Taani on her wedding day and fell in love with her zest for life. Circumstances on that day turned Surinder from a guest at the wedding to Taani's groom.
Back home with his new bride, Surinder's pesky co-workers rib him about his sudden shaadi, while best friend Bobby (Vinay Pathak) is upset at this suddent development. Used to living a single life in his huge home, Surinder is thrilled to find breakfast on the table and his tiffin ready on the scooter as he leaves for work. He would have mistaken this for his Taani's affection, but she had told him upfront that she would be a good wife, but would never be able to love him. He decides that she deserves a break from this boring marriage and thinks of a way to become "her life's hero". In Bobby's salon, he gets a make-over and sets out to pursue his wife posing to be somebody else. Surinder appears in his wife's life as Raj, who loves life and roadside food as much as her.
The premise is undoubtedly arresting and the film builds it up swiftly too. But the story lacks conviction: is it possible for a person not to recognise their spouse just because they've had a make-over (however extreme)? Also, in making Raj more likeable, why does Surinder make himself that much insufferable? While Raj shows Taani the fun of getting drenched in the rain, Surinder that very evening asks her to shut the windows so the water doesn't spoil the floor. It's almost like he's pushing her towards his alter-ego, and then wants to watch whom she finally chooses. The end is disappointingly predictable, and handled a bit shakily.
A parallel dilemma was explored in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam where the woman had to choose between her lover and her husband. In Paheli too, Lacchi was torn between her neglectful husband and the romantic lover (both played by Shah Rukh Khan). Here, of course, Surinder may be dull but he's certainly not uncaring towards Taani. And Taani, when it comes to Raj and Surinder, chooses the one who held her hand when she needed it the most. In doing so, there are several back-and-forths till she finally makes her decision and even touches her suitor's feet! While the first half builds up the story expertly, the second half falls into the cliched mode. Even the pace slackens as several scenes, like the one where Surinder wrestles in a local fair, is unnecesarily extended. At almost three hours, the film is way too long.
On the plus side, the film is constantly funny. We laugh at Surinder's endearing clumsiness first and then at his boisterous transformantion as Raj. Wearing a T-shirt that says 'Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime' with tight jeans and over-sized sunglasses, Raj reminds one of several young people who dress loud to look `with it'. Performance-wise the film is an ace. Shah Rukh Khan is back and how! You cannot dismiss him in a single scene, so note-perfect are his performances as Surinder and Raj. This is SRK's film all the way, whether as the devoted husband, the flirtatious lover, or in the song where he mischieviously spoofs Bollywood legends. Anushka Sharma is definitely star material -- her's is the typical North Indian beauty (described in those areas, as `gori chitti laal tamatar'-- very fair with cheeks as red as tomatoes). Sharma's dialogue delviery is impressive and she performs all the ranges of her character with amazing confidence and alacrity.
RNBDJ's songs are delightful (lyrics, Jaideep Sahni; music, Salim-Sulaiman) and wonderfully picturised. Haule Haule soaks in the city's sights and sounds; Phir milenge chalte chalte tributes several yesteryear actors and their work, folding in lyrics and music of several songs in an expert amalgamation. Dance Pe Chance too makes you smile with its simple yet, clever words. Tujh Mein rab dikhta hai is a slow, soulful number. Dialogue is intelligent and fun throughout. Excellent sound-designing brings out the flavour of the city. Aki Narula's styling is first-rate. cinematography by Ravi K Chandran ( Had the story chosen not to take the regressive and cliched path towards the end, the film would have been path-breaking. Still, for the fresh sparks in the story, Shah Rukh Khan's hugely entertaining performance and Anushka Sharma's confident debut, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi remains unmissable.
Verdict: Three stars
Had the story chosen not to take the regressive and cliched path towards the end, the film would have been path-breaking. Still, for the fresh sparks in the story, Shah Rukh Khan's hugely entertaining performance and Anushka Sharma's confident debut, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi remains unmissable.
Verdict: Three stars