Band Baaja Baaraat (Maneesh Sharma, 2010)
When I saw that this film was among those listed for this marathon, I had a genuine curiosity, if for no other reason than it would be my first ever Bollywood experience. I have long heard of the style of film, but have never had the joy to experience it myself. Knowing very little of the "genre", actors, directors, etc., coming into this film cold was a perfect experience. Of course the film was stylish, colorful, and had loads of dancing throughout. That was to be expected. What I wasn't necessarily expecting was just how infectious the film would turn out to be. While it was cliche and the story derivative of all other rom-coms that came before, there is something special about the energy in this film which makes it a joy to sit through.
Quite honestly, I am a little more than shocked that this hasn't been adapted in the US with Kate Hudson or some other such rom-com "queen". The story is almost too syrupy to withstand, but as I said, the energy and personality of the two leads carries it. Set in Delhi, the film follows Shruti, an Indian girl with a dream of starting her own wedding planning business before being ceremoniously matched off herself, and Bittoo, the son of a farmer looking to extend his stay in the big city in order to avoid harvesting sugarcane the rest of his life. The two make an unlikely partnership and build a small wedding planning business up to an elite option. Of course with partnership comes complications. Despite declaring business and pleasure impossible to mix, the two begin to fall in love with each other, but deny their feeling, which leads to a messy falling out which threatens the plans and future of both.
The rush of color and music is marvelous throughout, but the rather cookie-cutter plot begins to drag in the second half of the film when the expected complications hit and cause melodrama, which is not very becoming these two actors. Anushka Sharma in particular is quite good here, while Ranveer Singh, who I understand was a newcomer for this film, shows his inexperience with some rather exaggerated acting at times. In general, however, the two work quite well together on film, and as I said it is a fun experience worth seeking out. Being a novice with Bollywood myself, I have no clue whether this film is indicative of Bollywood in general, or where it ranks among its best (if at all), but I am glad that it was my introduction to it because I came away tapping my toe and smiling. I think that's the point.*** - Very Good