Directed by: Maneesh Sharma
Starring: Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh
Have you ever watched one film and wondered if the grass is greener on the other screen? That is how I always feel when two or more films release at the same time. Sometimes, you go and see what you feel was the better film first and feel smug as a result. Other times you see a film which is simply dreadful and makes you wish you had seen the other film first. And then there are times when all the films are bad and it falls down to a question of faith when you have to motivate yourself to visit a cinema again (I am thinking of Diwali 2009 here when Blue, All The Best and Main Aur Mrs Khanna released and were all terrible!)
Band Baaja Baaraat (BBB) has been picking up steam over its opening weekend but the scheduling at the cinema seemed erratic (either early morning or late afternoon meaning sacrificing a lie in on a weekend or seeing all of the finale of a popular reality show) I went for the more accessible No Problem (and of course I am a Sushmita Sen fan) and though I didn’t hate the film, I couldn’t help feeling BBB might have been the better bet. So on a Sunday afternoon, extracting myself from my cozy spot on the sofa, I headed down to a cold cinema, to see if things really were better on the other side…
BBB is the story of Shruti (Sharma) and Bittu (Singh), two college students who meet accidentally at a wedding which Shruti has helped plan. Shruti dreams of being a wedding planner and setting up a business planning weddings, all on her own. But in an attempt to avoid going back to his village, Bittu sweet talks his way into Shruti’s plans and they form a successful company that grows stronger with each job. Although Shruti promises never to mix love and business, the inevitable happens – will things between Bittu and Shruti ever be the same again?
Continuing their theme of the underdog and small businesses with soul flourishing amongst Youngistan in India, Yashraj have a winner on their hands with BBB. The film has a genuinely different feel and is a breath of fresh air amongst some of the more stale offerings we have seen this year. Maneesh Sharma has a remarkably confident voice for a first time film director and though the film has the Yashraj stamp throughout it, Maneesh maintains his own individual style and sees it through successfully – note the shots where Shruti looks at herself in the mirror, or the quiet symmetry when Bittu and Shruti are indecisive about whether to confront the other, take two steps forward, then turn around and leave (this occurs twice – once in the first half, once in the second). Where the film really succeeds is capturing a slice of Delhi life – the way the characters speak, the way they dress, the mannerisms, and in particular the dialogue all feel authentic and certainly hit the spot with the audience I saw the film with, who clapped and whistled throughout (they also laughed at emotional scenes reminding me Hindi film viewers can be incredibly sadistic at the best of times).
Technically, BBB is the high standard product we would expect, filmed almost as a documentary or fly on the wall with a continual medium close up shot used throughout and some extreme close ups at emotional high points. The film is also well edited, never losing its pace and building momentum and sustaining it right to the end. This is helped not only by the fantastic soundtrack with each song taking the story forward but also with the very well written dialogue and simplicity of the story which doesn’t go into safe territory until the last moment and even then, this feels an acceptable conclusion to the proceedings.
Of course, the styling and set design are trend setting, taking their theme from the film itself – kitsch – and creating some beautiful sets accented with gaudy colours and far too much embellishment that is pure so bad its good territory and will no doubt set/reflect trends of the multi million rupee/pound/dollar wedding scene. Anushka wears a number of fantastic looks in the film, from a typical middle class Delhi girl to modern Indian business woman and carries all looks off with ease – I loved her scarves with kurtas and skinny jeans, the prints with brocade, sequin and tribal trims as well as her flat shoes. I also loved her salwar kameez that she wore for the weddings, with the blue/orange with red dupatta and cobalt blue kameez teamed with acid green skinny salwar my favourite. I also loved her gold harem pants in the final song (and am sure I was not the only person reminded of the late Divya Bharti there). Ranveer also wears the villager aka dehati look teaming a silk shirt with a velvet blazer and jeans, then as the film progresses, wearing American sports brands and brocade silk sherwanis.
Performance wise, just like the director, Ranveer Singh makes a confident debut and gives a very good account of himself as a leading man. What I liked about him was he did not try to imitate or model himself on any other popular actor – we have seen many come and go trying to be like Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik (and fail in the process) but Ranveer is himself and though he may find himself being compared with Ranbir Kapoor in this film, this would be a favourable comparison to both rather than a bad one. Ranveer’s dancing and dialogue delivery are also very good and it will be interesting to see what he does next but essentially, this is a good launchpad for him and he deserves the plaudits he will receive.
For me, the real star of the show is Anushka Sharma. After a very good debut with Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (which still stands the test of time) and a strong follow up with Badmaash Company, Anushka completes her trio of films with Yashraj and shows an impressive amount of growth as an actress and a performer. She is totally convincing as Shruti and brings the character to life so that we feel we have met this girl and know her well. She also shows versatility, playing comedy and emotional scenes with equal aplomb. My favourite scenes were the pre interval scene and the scene when she promises not to cry over Bittu any more – she is clearly out of her comfort zone here, taking a risk and it pays off handsomely. I also thought she danced well and in fact, carried the entire film on her slender shoulders.
Whilst everyone is busy concentrating on the tabloid friendly Deepika and Sonam Kapoor, Anushka has stolen a march on them and is slaloming her way into the top league of actresses – I would say this performance is on the level of a Priyanka Chopra or Kareena Kapoor and is incredibly encouraging – it will be interesting to see how Patiala House turns out but for now, BBB crowns Anushka as one to watch.
BBB is a fun watch and deserves to do well at the box office. I also thought it had repeat viewing value and reminded me in a good way of Jab We Met which also started off stealth like and grew in popularity. I think even those unfamiliar with the whole Indian wedding phenomenon would be able to enjoy the film and identify with the spirited characters who are fighting to make their mark in a tough world and succeeding but at a price, something which many audiences will be able to identify with.
Yashraj seemed to have saved the best till last and it seems their final offering of this year has been one of the strongest this year too. So it seems on this occasion, there was a better party going on somewhere else and perhaps this is one case where releasing two films on the same day, however different they may be, was not always a shrewd move. Against No Problem, I think BBB will triumph and in the long run, will be a popular family favourite. Definitely one of the best films of 2010 and highly recommended!