Film Review: Mere Brother Ki Dulhan

Directed by: Ali Abbas Zafar

Starring: Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ali Zafar

WARNING: Contains spoilers so if you don’t wish to know what happens, please revisit my review after seeing the film. Thanks!

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How do you follow a film like Bodyguard at the box office? How do you follow a film like Band Baaja Baaraat (the previous offering from Yashraj Films)?  These are just a few of the challenges faced by Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (MBKD)  immediately upon release and not easy ones to surmount either. When expectations are running high,  disappointment tends to lurk in the shadows, ready to jump out with a display of jazz hands as the end credits roll. But MBKD also has quite a few things going for it – a decent soundtrack, a very marketable Katrina Kaif riding on the wave of being part of a superhit and a constant buzz that this film will survive on its own merits. Of course, there was only one way to find out if the film did “rock”, so it was to the Saturday morning show I went, ready to give MBKD a chance to impress.

And I was mighty surprised by what I saw. The plot is given away in the title – Kush (Khan) falls in love with his brother’s (Zafar) bride Dimple (Kaif) so this was never going to be about telling a new story but all about the treatment of one of the most oft repeated subjects in commercial Hindi cinema. MBKD knowingly borrows different elements from films like Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and a few others,  and blends them in with just the right amount of tribute to old school films and songs  to create MBKD– the twist here is they almost get the formula right. There is something very watchable about MBKD with the plot moving at a brisk pace, some funny dialogue and a grounded base which stops the film veering too far into any territory that would upset the balance. In fact, as one would expect from a Yashraj production, every element is carefully customised and polished so that it fits neatly into place.

Because the film is technically superb (note the gorgeous cinematography, smooth edits and lighting which all tend to innovate rather than imitate), the script hinges on its cast to bring talent and star power to propel the film forward, build momentum and make it three dimensional. And this is where it gets interesting – I will honestly admit that I didn’t think Khan or Kaif would be able to pull it off (whilst I am being honest here, I should add I still haven’t seen Tere Bin Laden so not sure what to make of Zafar) and at times, it seems I was vindicated – some scenes were a little flat or irritating. But then at other times, there was a tangible chemistry and a particularly strong show from Kaif which caught me off guard and made the film click. And whilst the gamble MBKD takes doesn’t always pay off, when it does, we do have a fun film on hand.

Styling wise, like Bodyguard, I had eyes only for our heroine who smashes it in a rock inspired look (albeit a little too commercial clean-cut rock look) with some funky boots, vests and coloured jeans combinations. However, just like Bodyguard, it was desi wear that really caught my eye – I loved it when Katrina teamed paisley harem pants with a hoodie with silk elbow patches as well as the patiala salwar with a white suit. For the guys, the sherwanis were super awesome (sending me a subliminal message that a trip to the sherwani store is long overdue!)

Performance wise, I was disappointed by Imran – everything in this set up was designed to help bolster his performance and for me, he didn’t really deliver. That is not to say he doesn’t do well in some scenes – Imran is always strong as part of an ensemble and does sometimes show spark in some scenes but unlike his contemporary Ranbir, Imran has yet to offer beyond what is required for him and that is what he needs to bring to the table. I didn’t mind Ali Zafar who seemed to have fun with his role and was good in the comedic scenes but for me, he didn’t stand out and had a strange chemistry with Imran – there certainly seems to be fuel in those rumours of an on-set feud between the two.

So, this is something I never thought I would write – Katrina Kaif saves the day. Yup, the girl with the heavily accented Hindi, who has taken one step forward and then two back but still maintained an enviable box office record builds on her good work in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to add some star quality and glamour to the mix and try to act at the same time. Yes, there are a few scenes where she misses her mark but by and large, Katrina the actress is evident here. We see her taking a risk, throwing herself out of her comfort zone and giving it all she has, which for once, didn’t annoy or irritate me. There is still a long way for her to go till she can take on more difficult roles but MBKD is a step in the right direction – a top heroine should be able to carry a film regardless of the hero and it wouldn’t be unfair to say it is Katrina who is the hero of MBKD. Plus she has the author backed role which seems to have inspired a new confidence in her and the challenge now is whether she can take things further up a gear as well as maintain the lucky mascot tag.

MBKD is far more entertaining than I thought it would be and in terms of following up other films both now and for posterity, it could have been a whole lot worse. Though not one of the strongest films of the year, it is not a write off either. Whilst Imran and Katrina fans will love this film, I think even those who aren’t too fond of the lead pair will find something to like here too. I would hesitate to put this in the whole Jab We Met/Band Baaja Baaraat category of films as for me, its not quite there but that is certainly the direction the film is heading in and that is no bad thing at all. Give this one a try – you might be pleasantly surprised…

P.S. If anyone can explain the purpose of the John Abraham cameo, I’d be grateful!

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