Friday, December 10, 2010

'Band Baaja...' is a charming entertainer says Rajeev Masand

'Band Baaja Baaraat' is a rather unlikely offering from Yash Raj Films, a studio that has seldom deviated from its tradition of making extravagant movies featuring larger-than-life stars.

This charming entertainer directed by Maneesh Sharma is set in middle-class Delhi and tells a story of two ordinary characters. Newcomer Ranveer Singh stars as Bittoo Sharma, a Delhi University graduate who'll do anything to avoid returning to his village Saharanpur, where a life of sugarcane farming awaits him. He offers to become partners with his friend Shruti Kakkar, a Janakpuri resident played by Anushka Sharma, who wants to set up a wedding planning business.

Band Baaja Baaraat benefits enormously from its two core strengths - sharp writing, and shooting on location. Both, in fact, give the film and its characters a real, believable feel. Bittoo's strong accent, the way he says 'binness' instead of business, the pair's aspirations to graduate to planning fancy Sainik Farms weddings, and the clever dialogue by Habib Faisal are the kind of little touches that make all the difference in this film.

The first half is immensely enjoyable as Bittoo and Shruti establish their company and their reputation by working hard to organize the best weddings they can. The conflict arises around intermission, when we learn that Shruti herself may have broken that one key rule that she laid down for them before they started out - "Jisse vyapaar karo, usse kabhi na pyaar karo" (meaning: don't fall in love with the person you're doing business with). The second half of the film, unfortunately, loses steam early on. The pair bickers continuously, and logic goes out of the window, only for things to fall comfortably back into place in the last 15 minutes or so.

Yet for the most part, 'Band Baaja Baaraat' works because it's invested with an earnestness that's become increasingly rare to find at the movies. It's refreshing to see mostly unknown faces playing smaller parts like Bittoo and Shruti's flower supplier, caterer, and their own families. In fact, the supporting cast does a competent job of never turning these characters into caricatures.

But at the heart of this film are its delightful leads. The ambitious but straightforward Shruti Kakkar, played with a zeal we haven't seen before in Anushka Sharma's previous roles. And Ranveer Singh as the unpolished but lovable Bittoo Sharma, who steals the film with a confident, uninhibited performance that is the best thing about this film. Both actors share a comfortable chemistry that make this film an easy watch.

I'm going with three out of five for director Maneesh Sharma's 'Band Baaja Baaraat'. It's a romantic comedy done correctly. Fun, but with warmth at its heart. Don't miss it.

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