Vivah

For Kristen, who asked.

Vivah (English: Marriage) is a thoroughly delightful, almost totally plotless romantic film. The story follows Prem (Shahid Kapoor) and Poonam (Amrita Rao) from their arranged engagement to their wedding. And that’s just about it, although there’s a slight problem at the end that they have to learn to overcome. I say slight because although it is obviously significant to their lives, it isn’t that significant to the movie; it’s just a confirmation that their love and the arranged marriage will last.

Prem is the younger son of an upper class business man, and Poonam is the niece of a middle class… business man? I can’t remember. It’s immaterial. A friend of the two families (Manoj Joshi, being his jolly old self) suggests that Prem and Poonam should be introduced to each other, and the families agree to meet.

Prem and Poonam are shy at first, but soon come to like each other. Poonam is put at ease by Prem’s brother’s wife, Bhavna (Lata Sabharwal) and so was I. Lata is just great in this role, and the character is very endearing. I loved all of her mannerisms, her antics, and her relationship to the other characters.

On occasion, Poonam is just sickeningly sweet and precious. At the beginning of the movie I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stand her. But she began to grow on me, and when I finished the film, while I didn’t think she was the cutest thing ever (Bhavna/Lata is!) I definitely didn’t despise her.

Shahid just knows how to be the innocent, charming, and affluent young man. Maybe there’s a reason for this? His devotion to Poonam just charmed my socks off.

The supporting cast is all good, too. I never object to seeing Anupam, although it was a change to see him as a father who has sons to be proud of.  Manoj Joshi is one of my favorite supporting actors, and Alok Nath as Poonam’s uncle (no, seriously, he was her uncle) is very believable. His wife, Rama (Seema Biswas) is pretty intense, and her attitude brings a lot of interest to the film.  And their daughter, Rajni (Amrita Prakash), is completely adorable. Sunil (Samir Soni) is Prem’s older brother and Bhavna’s husband, and is all-around quite pleasant. Sunil and Bhavna’s son Rahul (Ameya Pandya) just adds to the cuteness.

Like I said, the movie has almost no plot. This isn’t really a problem, though. It’s just enjoyable to watch these characters move through their daily lives on the “journey from engagement to marriage.” It was also interesting how the film deals with subjects related to marriage that are hard to address in films– it’s tasteful, yet realistic.

But, like Swades, the distinctly Hindu nature of this film bothered me. It seems that more serious Hindi films tend to be more religious (with the pleasant exception of Aamir Khan films) and I wish this wasn’t the case. It’s hard to see these lovely characters so caught up in Hinduism.

The music is not just absolutely thrilling, but I liked each song as I watched it. I didn’t rush out to buy any, but they are all nice.  Hamari Shaadi was pretty cute:

This is not an exciting movie, but it is enjoyable. If you would just like to admire Delhi, lovely sarees and kameez salwar suits, Indian architecture and scenery; and arranged marriage doesn’t bother you, try the film. It’s on Youtube!

It’s also fun to speculate about Sooraj R. Barjatya’s obsession with the name Prem– it’s the name of the heroes in all of his movies. And I like to say Rajshri. Maybe I will name all my heroes that. Or maybe not.

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