Hindi Reviews

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo Review: Sanskaar Sermons And Cerebral Concussions

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Pretty costumes. People breaking out into songs at the drop of hats. Family, sentiment, Rishte, Pyaar and Sanskaar. Treacherous murderers who turn into saints after a speech about Parivaar and Sanskaar. Like all his previous movies, Sooraj Barjatiya’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is set in this made-up bizarro alien-world. This time around, he transports an estate called Pritampur and its rather regal occupants into it.

There lives a prince in the estate, called Vijay Singh (Salman Khan). The entire alien-estate is festive because in just a few days, the prince will be crowned king. And to witness this coronation, his fiancée, the non-alien princess Maithili will arrive soon in Pritampur. But before these momentous events can occur, poor prince Vijay Singh falls off a mountain and suffers a concussion. Salman Khan suffers a “cerebral concussion and cerebral edema”, thus giving us a momentous opportunity to use the word cerebral, Salman Khan and Sooraj Barjatya in the same article.

So Vijay Singh gets banished to a secret royal chamber where he will stay unconscious for a reasonable period of time. But, according to alien customs, coronations cannot be postponed. Asubh.
Meanwhile, the palace guards stumble into a village simpleton named Prem ‘Dilwale.’ And dude, what do you know, this guy looks like the cerebrally-edemaed Vijay Singh. And in a completely unexpected twist (who could’ve thunk), Prem is commissioned to play prince.

And how Prem wins the hearts of the disgruntled Mai … sorry, no spoilers. No way anyone can guess what happens after this.

*****

Barjatiya is like Sanjay Leela Bhansali in his insistence on making movies based on themes that make no sense in the real-world; the latter uses outlandish sets and lifestyles to make movies about unrealistic love and deceit; the former uses them to make movies about overly sentimental families.

*****

This world looks suspiciously like the earth as shown in Hindi movies from the 1980s. The sugar-coated lines and the cunning step-brothers and the suit-clad villain with his vulgarly dressed secretary. The melodrama and the festivals and the music. Except the royal band, which does a bad rendition of the Game of Thrones theme.

*****

Salman Khan reprises his Bajrangi Bhaijaan role, the genial Ram-bhakt who sticks the royal family back together with some good old kind-hearted glue. He shines in the few comic sequences there are, and tries gamely to bring the rest of the movie to life; he also is part of some quality melodrama as he interacts with his deranged step-sister Swara Bhaskar.
Sonam Kapoor meanwhile plays a princess who wears sunglasses inside the palace while reading lines from a script book; the exact opposite of the lively ‘royal misfit’ she portrayed in Khoobsurat.

*****

There are songs. 10 of them, one for every possible situation. When Prem wonders about what to gift the Rajkumari, he wonders aloud. In verse. While dancing.

“Kuch khatta-meetha lete chalein
Thodi barfi-warfi lete chalein”

And when Prem asks Maithili to list out all the complaints she has against the prince, she returns the favour by breaking into a song. Or when Prem and Maithili watch a football game and she asks him to get cozy with her. And one when Salman Khan and Neil Nitin Mukesh are engaged in a sword fight inside a palace of mirrors built on top of a waterfall. Take that, Bhansali!

(This was the stunt that Neil Nitin Mukesh claimed impressed the stunt director of Game of Thrones so much, that he got a that was offered a role on the show. Since then, HBO has denied the news, and killed him off even before he could start working on the series).

*****

The most watchable product from this film is this (unfortunately named) fan-made video of Beyonce dancing to the Prem Ratan Dhan Payo title song :

 

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