Band Baaja Baaraat

After a busy week I wanted something undemanding but still entertaining to watch, and what better than revisiting Ranveer Singh’s debut movie Band Baaja Baaraat. This fun romance was a sleeper hit back in 2010 and its aged reasonably well, mainly due to the great chemistry between the two leads. Add in all the glitz and glamour of several weddings with Salim-Sulaiman’s great soundtrack to make the perfect weekend watch on a cold wintry Melbourne day.

The film is essentially a standard filmi romance: boy meets girl, girl can’t stand boy, various incidents later girl falls for boy but he’s moved on and after tears, drama and outside interference, eventually everything works out fine. The difference comes in the setting, which here is the world of weddings and wedding planners, and in the convincingly human reactions Anushka Sharma’s Shruti displays when her romantic ideals fall short. The situations themselves are highly contrived and unlikely, especially the finale, but the emotions themselves are realistic and that’s what I enjoy about Band Baaja Baaraat.

When we meet Bittoo Sharma (Ranveer Singh), he’s a college kid, gate-crashing weddings with his friends for free food. But at Minki and Binny’s celebration, he’s spotted by Shruti Kakkar (Anushka Sharma) who calls him out as not being an invited guest. She’s helping with the organisation of the party as her ambition is to run her own wedding planner business and knows the key to success is not running out of food. Bittoo claims he is there with his friend to video the event and is immediately attracted to Shruti when he sees her dance. But after tracking her down, she rejects him firmly saying she doesn’t have time for romance as she is chasing her dream of her own business.

After being disillusioned by the shortcuts and cons run by famous wedding planner Chandra Narang (Shena Gamat), Bittoo and Shruti set up their own business partnership called Shaadi Mubarak. Shruti has a strict rule that love and business do not mix and this allows a genuine friendship to develop between Shruti and Bittoo. They each take care of their own part of the business and as Shaadi Mubarak become more and more successful, this translates into even bigger ideas. Bittoo is the one with more business savvy who pushes Shruti to work outside her comfort zone, while Shruti helps to keep Bittoo grounded with some of his more unachievable ideas. 

Anusha Sharma is charming as Shruti and is excellent in her portrayal of a college student who has great ideas and is able to capitalise on her dreams. She’s smart with quick come-backs but still has an innocence that allows her to be outraged when she finds out about Chandra’s short-cuts and scams. I also love that she thoroughly enjoys the weddings she plans and throws herself into the celebrations while still making sure everyone else is having a great time. It’s also interesting to watch Ranveer Singh in his first role and see the beginnings of the persona he now presents so confidently. He is clearly talented and his energy fits perfectly into the role of Bittoo. His all exuberance and joy is here, with hints of the traits we’ve come to see in many of his films. That irrepressible smile and barely contained energy reverberate off the screen in what is now classic Ranveer style. This was surely the perfect debut for him, and it helps that he has amazing chemistry with Anusha (which we see again in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl and Dil Dhadkane Do).

When Shruti and Bittoo end up spending a night together, the dynamic completely changes. Shruti sees it as a new chapter and the start of a romance, while Bittoo seems confused and unsure of what to do next. Bittoo has strictly followed Shruti’s rules and when she makes a move on him, it seems as if he doesn’t want to say no in case she is offended, but at heart doesn’t really want to go any further. But he’s a guy, so of course he’s not going to say no! But Bittoo is worried about the effect any romance may have on their working relationship and he’s also not looking for love and a permanent partner at this stage of his life. So, in his emotional confusion, when Bittoo tells Shruti it was a mistake, her first reaction is to save face and agree with him. But the pain and hurt build up and she lashes out, dissolving the partnership and breaking all ties with Bittoo. This seems a very honest and realistic response to me, and I totally understand Shruti’s motivations here. It was her idea in the first place and if Bittoo doesn’t want her, then she wants none of him either. I also think writer Habib Faisal gets Bittoo’s reactions just right as well. He’s also hurt by Shruti’s reaction and responds with anger and a desire to beat Shruti to show her she was wrong to reject his friendship. It all works well in terms of the emotional impact even if the resolution is rather less probable.

The supporting cast here are mostly peripheral to the story, but they serve as sounding boards for Bittoo and Shruti and call out the worst of their behaviour. Neeraj Sood as the florist Maqsood and Manmeet Singh as the caterer Rajinder are both very good and have the most impact to the story, but Puru Chibber and Revant Shergill as Bittoo’s friends are also good. There are so many excellent references to real life in the dialogue as well, which always make me smile. For instance, I love how Bittoo steps up to deliver the final big song and dance routine when Shahrukh is unable to attend the big society wedding at the end. So good on so many levels!

Salim-Sulaiman’s soundtrack is excellent and provides an upbeat background for the story. The hook from Ainvayi Ainvayi plays throughout the background music which helps anchor the story firmly in celebration mode while bringing the focus back to Bittoo and Shruti as it’s ‘their song’. Habib Faisal’s screenplay suits the upbeat approach taken by writer/director Maneesh Sharma and the whole film explodes with colour thanks to Aseem Mishra’s excellent cinematography. Even 12 years on, this is still a fun film and a great start to Ranveer’s career. Well worth revisiting! 4 stars.

Do Dooni Chaar (2010)

I was pleased to see this as part of the Indian Film Festival as Do Dooni Chaar didn’t get a cinema release here, despite starring legendary couple Rishi and Neetu Kapoor. It only attracted a very small audience at this showing—maybe 20 people —which really surprised me. Half of that number ran for the door when the subtitles failed to materialise, in search of someone in charge. But all was OK. The film was restarted (the Indian audience members complained loudly and jokingly about having to watch the titles again), the subs kicked in and we all settled down. Well, I hadn’t moved. I was going to watch it regardless so it was more fun to listen to all the huffing and grumbling!

The film was picked up for distribution by Disney and that tells you almost everything you need to know. It’s a nice film with message about decency and family, all wrapped up in a sweet sentimental shell. There’s nothing to object to, but I didn’t feel there was much to get excited about either. It was just… nice. And sometimes a nice film is just what you want.

Rishi Kapoor plays Santosh Duggal, a maths teacher and father of two. His wife Kusum (Neetu Kapoor) runs the household on his very limited income and maintains the cramped apartment to the best of her ability.


The kids, Payal (Aditi Vasudev) and Deepu (Archit Krishna), are typical teenagers and want all the latest things and best brands. They don’t have a lot of respect for their father, and see his poverty and lowly job rather than his values and intelligence.

The film opens to an argument about how Santosh’s INR7700 tax refund would be spent. The Duggals are a noisy, argumentative family, and the scene is punctuated by doors slamming and lots of shouting as people careen around the tiny flat. Kusum wants a fridge while the kids want everything from an iPod to dish TV. Payal, depressed by her lack of cash and stylish clothes, is a moody teen who bosses her weedy boyfriend around.  Deepu, or as he prefers to be called, Sandy is cruising by on charm. Until he comes unstuck, Sandy is a slick character with an eye for the girls and an unusual fried chicken based romantic style.


The central issue of the film is the pressure on Santosh to buy a car to replace his antique scooter. The car represents so many things to the Duggal family; success, status, independence, pride. But they can’t afford it. They have to budget carefully to have chicken for dinner so a car is a huge deal. The stress of this situation almost drives Santosh to make some extremely dubious decisions and accept money for giving a bad student a passing grade. He seems to embody the nice guy who finishes last, held back by his honesty and simplicity. He refuses to allow Payal to take a call centre job, ostensibly because it will delay her education, but as Kusum points out he also forced her to leave work on their marriage. She is at her wit’s end trying to keep up with the needs of her family when outgoings always exceed their income. The clash of old school and new world thinking is played really well and the arguments have the authentic ring of conversations that have been had over and over.

Rishi is so effective in the quieter, more soulful, moments when he drops some of his actorly mannerisms and he really looks and sounds like a tired dad.  He has a lovely conversation with Deepu/Sandy where they talk about why Santosh didn’t fly into a rage over a discovery and ends with him quietly asking the boy to make the right choices. Santosh’s relationship with Payal is more challenging and those scenes are more vocal and aggressive. But Payal discovers a new admiration when she sees how much he meant to his old students, and how highly they thought of him for his work ethic and standards. I have to say, Rishi didn’t look at all at home in the tiny apartment and I wonder if he went to boot camp to learn to handle an iron. Neetu plays Kusum as the driving force inside the family home, channelling her energy into alternately cajoling and threatening her husband and kids.  She is charming and energetic, refusing to let the exhaustion of her routine slow her down. Santosh and Kusum have a very delicately played scene where they try not to discuss the potential bribe, and Kusum is all for taking it although she doesn’t want to do anything seriously wrong. In a scene at a family wedding, Neetu drags Rishi out to dance and they prove the old sparkle is still there, even if his moves are suspect. There would be something a bit amiss if they didn’t have great chemistry!

I wish I hadn’t read some interviews with the Kapoors about the making of the film. They both went on a bit too much about how their costumes were just average off the rack shop bought clothes and how they didn’t mind wearing something so common to make the film work (I’m paraphrasing). So every time Rishi pulled on another of his knitted vests, I felt an eyeroll coming on. But Rishi IS synonymous with knitwear so it was also quite pleasing.

The supporting cast were all good. I especially liked Aditi Vasudev’s performance. She was bratty and whiny but also had Kusum’s strength of will. She wasn’t at all glamorous, and looked like a typical student. Akhilendra Mishra was also fun as the neighbour Farooqui. He and Rishi had some lovely scenes as the men tried to avoid their warring wives.

I really enjoyed the family scenes, and thought the dialogue was excellent in those episodes. I was less taken in by the scenes with the neighbours, and the final ‘I just make sweets but a good teacher makes great human beings’ speech was just too much for my taste. The message had been coming through loud and clear so being hit over the head with it for the final fifteen minutes or so was overkill.

I also loved the neighbourhood locations and the glimpses of shops, houses, schools and other settings. I always like a film that gives me a strong sense of place and Habib Faisal did an excellent job in making the locations seem so real. The soundtrack is punchy and matched the inner city feel perfectly.

It was a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours, and always nice to see old favourites show they still have form. It’s an almost old-fashioned film, and it promotes values of decency and honesty. It is very sentimental, but not too syrupy. I give Do Dooni Chaar 3 stars.