By: Deepa Gahlot
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Friday 16 March 2007
Fardeen Khan, Esha Deol, Bikram Saluja, Perizaad Zorabian
The arranged marriage in the contemporary urban scenario, when young people may fall in love, date and still accept an arranged marriage with someone they barely know, needed to go under the scanner. And Meghna Gulzar tries to do it with her Just Married, but instead of a fresh and identifiable story, she comes up with something that would have been outdated half a century ago.
America-returned Abhay (Fardeen Khan) scoffs at his friend?s arranged marriage, but when he is asked to go through one himself without even meeting the girl, he agrees with surprising lack of protest. The bride Ritika (Esha Deol) at least asks to meet the man once and is dispatched to a caf? with a garrulous aunt, who won?t let the young people speak to each other. The parents think it?s normal to marry someone you haven?t seen, because they did it too, but even the most conservative parents today would be a little more sensible. But hello, this is the age of communication; couldn?t the two have phoned, mailed and even sneaked a meeting without parents finding out? But no, next thing they are on their way to a honeymoon as strangers.
Astonishingly, Ritika, who is working in an office after passing her MA, and couldn?t have gone through life till that point without interacting with men, suddenly turns into a touch-me-not Victorian maiden. From the dance number at her friend?s wedding, it is established that she is not a shy sort, so why does she have such a communication gap with her perfectly nice husband? Instead of having a frank talk with Abhay and telling him that she doesn?t feel comfortable with physical intimacy without getting to know him, she makes absurd excuses to avoid getting into bed with him.
Since the audience already knows that the option of getting out of the marriage on grounds of incompatibility doesn?t even exist for a couple from the arranged-marriage kind of family set-up?at least not right after the honeymoon?Meghna Gulzar should have painted a more convincing scenario, or taken the trouble to come up with a back story for Ritika?s bizarre reticence. Why would a girl on a honeymoon not even want to hold her husband?s hand, and bristle at the slightest show of affection?
Instead, like the recent Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., she fills the film with other honeymooning couples, all of whom have their own takes on love and marriage?all so solemn that it would put people off marriage forever. The old couple (Satish Shah ?Kirron Kher), celebrating their 40th anniversary squabble endlessly and are supposed to personify a happily wed pair? Meghna Gulzar sure has some weird ideas about marriage.
The most ridiculous is the climax when the bus on which the group is returning balances precariously over a cliff. Abhay plays the hero and saves everyone, after which Ritika decides he is a good guy and she will now have a real honeymoon with him. All his earlier kindness and patience has no effect on her heart. Was she looking for a loving, decent husband or superman?
So then, for an incisive look at the arranged marriage in the 21st century, it?s back to the drawing board. Just Married clearly does not deliver!