I had pretty low expectations of Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. But I’ve had a very up and down kind of week, and seeing this with excellent company of a couple of friends was the perfect antidote. The leads are likeable, it’s a pretty film, there are some beautiful locations, I laughed all the way through and the songs are excellent. The comedy was funny, and there were some pleasing references to classic and not so classic Bollywood films. There is nothing in the story that is new, but Ali Abbas Zafar (no relation to the star, Ali Zafar) has done the recycling with wit and charm. It’s a really light hearted undemanding film but I didn’t leave my brain at the door, just my worries.
The story kicks off as Luv (Ali Zafar) breaks up with his girlfriend in London. He asks younger brother Kush (Imran Khan) to find him a bride as he feels it is time to settle down but doesn’t think his parents know him well enough to pick a compatible girl. Luv tells Kush that if Kush likes a girl, he is bound to as well. So you can see where this is going long before old flame Dimple (Katrina Kaif) is trotted out by her parents. Kush and Dimple had never quite got together but he thinks the world of her and so she is the perfect bride for his idolised brother. But what to do when you realise you’re in love with your prospective sister-in-law, and she feels the same? The path to the predictable ending is much more entertaining than I expected and even kind of made sense. Not in a real world logic way, but there was enough context built into the film, and characters behaved in accordance with the internal logic of the story.
Imran is great as the boy next door Kush. He has obviously been working hard on his dancing (and should keep working on it), and that was a plus with so many good songs. His comic timing was spot on and he seemed to have good rapport with his co-stars. A lot of the comedy derives from Kush’s reactions to people and incidents and I thought Imran was able to communicate so much by expression alone, particularly his eyes. The look on his face when Dimple tells Kush that he looks like Amol Palekar was priceless!
Ali Zafar handled the demands of playing a character who was selfish and a bit immature and making him sympathetic and funny. He plays the preening NRI but when he is talking to his little brother those mannerisms drop away and we can see more of the genuine person underneath. Luv was decent in his own self centred way and while the ending was inevitable I also wanted to see him happy, or at least not become Romance Roadkill.
I really liked that both Luv and Kush were shown as fundamentally nice guys, so on one level it didn’t matter who got the girl as there was no villain or obviously bad choice. And both chaps do very good eyebrow acting so they were well matched as brothers.
Katrina’s acting was adequate and she certainly looked lovely. She always used to be the blank faced doll in the short dress, but now when the camera focuses on her eyes it does look like there is somebody home. Her performance in ZNMD was far superior to this and yet the characters could have been very similar. Dimple wasn’t given a lot of nuance, indeed she suffered from the highest WTF quotient, and she mostly played as loud and boisterous. The ‘Suicide!’ scene was a real misfire, but for the most I think Katrina delivered what she was asked to do. Dimple is a rebel, but she’s the good kind of rebel who doesn’t upset her parents. She struck me as the ideal drinking buddy but a bit too high maintenance to want her as a friend.
It was nice to see a heroine who wasn’t passive and helpless, and while some of her choices made me roll my eyes, some had me cheering. She asks why guys can flirt with lots of girls but if she flirts, she is thought to be a slut. Kush tells Dimple not to change herself but that she must also realise that change in others attitudes would take time. While it was completely filmi, it was still nice that Dimple didn’t have to suffer or be rescued because of her ‘bad girl’ behaviour. The part of the characterisation that worked best for me when Dimple spoke about her fear of losing her identity once she was married, and what that change in her life was going to mean.
There was time for a little bit of reflection and introspection in amongst all the pre wedding shenanigans, but still done with humour.
The screenplay was generous in giving the supporting characters some good dialogue and they all had a little quirk or detail that made them stand out. I’m not convinced by Tara D’Souza as Luv’s ex Piali, but her acting did make everyone else look that much better. She seemed to be given the same direction as Katrina that loud = strong. Arfeen Khan had a difficult role as Ajju, Dimple’s autistic brother, and he was good. He had some really nice little moments interacting with Kush and Dimple, and his timing was great. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub was delightful as Kush’s friend Shobhit, making the most of being a comedy sidekick and bride hunting assistant.
The songs by Sohail Sen are a perfect match for the characters and the tone of the story. This is one of my favourite soundtracks at present and the picturisations are a highlight. From the filmi pastiche choreography of the title track to the rambunctious Madhubala (sung by Ali Zafar) or the sweetly funny Isq Risk there is not one that I didn’t like. There is even a bit of a snake dance! The film also uses songs from older films like Padosan and Caravan to signal or highlight things happening in the story.
While the film is aimed at the youth market, this could be one for the nostalgic folk too. It was that most rare of things – a modern Bollywood comedy with no fart jokes, no sleaze but with lots of humour and abundant song and dance. I don’t think there is anything new or amazing about the film, but don’t we go see movies to be entertained or amused? Mere Brother Ki Dulhan does that, and does it very well.