Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008)

If I were Yash Raj Films, I would not be bragging about filming this in less than 50 days -- it clearly shows. Aditya Chopra and friends don't seem to have spent much time making it, and I don't intend to spend much time reviewing it. Should have avoided Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (hereby referred to as "Rab Ne") altogether after reading this review over at Bitten By Bollywood, which I can now say I agree with*.

Never mind the tagline -- there is an extraordinary love story in every ordinary jodi -- can be justifiably criticized for being abysmally out of place. (The film almost suggests that women in ordinary jodis are extraordinarily dumb, and men extraordinarily incompetent at flirting respectably. Oh wait, that second part might be true of 'ordinary' men :P)

The point is, it's really not the lack of sensibility in the film that bothers me as much. If I restricted myself to sensible cinema (the key theme is exclusivity), I would not consider myself a fan of Bollywood (heck, even Hollywood), and the vast, vast majority of Shah Rukh Khan films would be at the bottom of my viewing pile. If realism is absolutely required for a film to be good, someone please wake me up and tell me I'm Rip Van Winkle and have missed some major world event over the last couple of decades (like aliens in an Indiana Jones film invading our planet and toying with our faculties of thought and imagination, rendering us incapable of consuming commercial cinema)!

What is bothersome in Rab Ne is the packaging, which leaves a lot to be desired, even by the not so high expectations I have of Shah Rukh films.** Sets? Uncheck. Screenplay? Uncheck. Character development? Uncheck. Dialogue? Uncheck. Choreography? Uncheck. (This song, which made me somewhat look forward to the film, was decent, but only because of Kajol :P) Cinematography? Uncheck. Entertaining? Uncheck. Boring? CHECK. Would 'Rab' be proud of the lackadaisical effort? I think not!

On the positive side (tried to like it, really did), Anushka Sharma does quite well for what she has to work with. Shah Rukh is about okay, and I do appreciate his attempt at playing unique characters, albeit to a disappointingly ordinary and sloppy script that is not at all engaging beyond the first few minutes of its translation to the screen. Rab Ne has reportedly been very successful from a business standpoint, and might already be more successful financially than Swades (2004), which is why the intellectual argument noted above doing the rounds in some Shah Rukh fan circles seems rather amusing. =)

Have a great New Year's Eve, everyone!

* Going to see it was more of a good will gesture to friends and family who are fans of Shah Rukh, so I guess it served some intangible purpose to not wait for the DVD ;)

** In case you think I dislike Shah Rukh films, because my experience leads me to believe this is a very common misconception of fans of Ace Khan (and a sentiment I've very comfortably spent more than half my life around, LOL) -- many of whom would perhaps justifiably rather not mention both in the same sentence like I just did -- there's this post on Swades (2004) to refute that argument.


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Bollywood Fan!:)
Thanks for the link. I, of course, agree with you wholeheartedly...this movie was sloppy and forgettable. I've read some reviews that made me a little more forgiving, and I can appreciate some of the elements now (though I think I find something to love in all Hindi films:) ), but I can see from your review that I wasn't the only one who felt this way. I even thought maybe it was a subtitle/translation issue, but you do speak Hindi don't you? (forgive me for assuming so if you don't, but I thought I remembered that you did).

I'm off to write my double review on Ghajini and Slumdog Millionaire now. Now those were both unforgettable films. "Rab Ne" is but a distant memory after seeing these two...Hmm maybe I'll use that line in my post!

Have a safe and happy New Year! Cheers to another year of blogging and friendship!Glad we met this year.

Nicki said...

Happy New Years.

Thanks for the review. I'm going to wait for the dvd. I'm not hype up to see it. I guess all my energy went to Ghajini instead, hehehe. For some reason, I wasn't feeling Anushka but I think I won't judge her until I see her in action. To me, she reminds me of Soha Ali Khan in the looks department. However, I can see why some people compare her looks to Kajol.

Honestly, I knew nothing about the film or songs. Thanks for the playlist link. It's very interesting. If find SRK films do so much references and having so many "guest" appearances from others. To me, it's getting a little overplayed. I don't mind it, not at all but we just saw it last year with Om Shanti Om. I still enjoy his films though.

I wanted to say that I totally agree with you about SRK. For some reason if I say anything negative about him, SRK fans jump all over me!!!! Do they not remember that I enjoy his films and performances in some? Gosh! Hehehe

Anonymous said...

Happy new year, BollywoodFan! And this film did not do well maybe because it wasn't promoted like Ghajini. Aamir did a hard work in promoting his film, but Shah Rukh didn't. So there is the result, Rab Ne isn't THAT good, and Ghajini isn't THAT bad :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Happy new year everyone!

Nida: You were certainly not the only one. A very close friend who planned the event, and who is a huge Shah Rukh fan, was very apologetic to everyone at the end, which tells me what she thought of the film too. :) I do speak Hindi, and although I don't follow subtitles, I didn't think it would have made too much of a difference in the overall quality of the film. And yes, there is *always* something to appreciate in every film. Shall look forward to your review of Ghajini and Slumdog, and the privilege is mine to have met!

Nicki: Maybe Anushka stood out because little else did? Time will tell. I certainly think she's closer to Soha than to Kajol, absolutely!

The media and many fans are always at it, but the truth is Aamir and Shah Rukh are good friends in real life. Not very good friends like Aamir and Salman, but good friends, and I take their word for it. I wish we could all get beyond the gossip and debate the films. I don't think there's any doubt whatsoever, for any rational thinker, about which actor has consistently risen to the challenge of delivering quality cinema in either decade -- the 1990s or the 2000s.

theBollywoodFan said...

Saurabh: Thanks! And the same to you buddy. On the contrary, Rab Ne has indeed done quite well financially and is a hit.

I didn't mean for this to be a Ghajini v Rab Ne thread. As products of film, it doesn't take much to realize the difference in the quality of the films and filmmaking (never mind the marketing and response) -- the difference in quality is as big as night and day, and the hard work that went into one is obvious.

I am somewhat confused about the last comment. Few seem to have said Rab Ne was 'that good', and the almost unanimous consent on Ghajini where it matters most for a commercial film -- to the masses and the box office -- has been extremely positive, so there's no question about Ghajini being 'bad' when compared to Rab Ne, let alone 'that bad'.

When any film is raking in 70-80% collections its second week following an all-time best first week, it's on the merits of the film. Marketing can only do so much. Remember Love Story 2050?

dunkdaft said...

Why you don't like SRK's movies much? Being a BollywoodFan, SRK's movies are complete of the package. OK, he has some really bad bad movies. Even I don't like them. But still, I can be a fan of Aamir and enjoy SRK's movies a lot. To be true, Kuch Kuch...is on top list of my fav films.

But Yes, This was not good [bad i can't say cause there are moments]. And yes, Kajol was the one, in that song who stood apart. I shouted when she was on screen. I never knew she is gonna come.

The most annoying thing to me was, typical twist. Please spare me horror, but how can a same guy who offers Taani to elope with him, can doubt her honesty in marriage??

Happy New Year !!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree that there is a huge difference between the qualities of both the films. But the quality is mostly dependent on the story of a film.

Both Rab Ne… and Ghajini had a good story. Aamir did much promotion for his films – on news channels, his blog and other events. But nobody saw Shah Rukh for promotion of Rab Ne.

This can be the cause that Ghajini has done better than Rab Ne. Still, both the films have earned much money in just a few weeks after their release. So Rab Ne is not a very bad film, it’s an average hit. On the other hand, Ghajini is not a very good film, but because of the good screenplay and comedy, it is considered as a big hit.

And about that comparison, I think, Shah Rukh and Aamir are not good friends (c’mon, we all know the Shah Rukh-Aamir panga) so that is why their films are always compared to each other. If Om Shanti Om had released in December in 2007, then it would have been compared to TZP.

theBollywoodFan said...

Happy new year Darshit! I don't think I would have gone to see Rab Ne in the theater after reading your review (or Nida's) if I hadn't enjoyed Shah Rukh's films in the past! I certainly hope one can be an Aamir fan and enjoy Shah Rukh films, and vice versa. It would be unfair to both actors and to the spirit of fairness if one didn't give the other a chance. That's exactly the point I was trying to make in those last lines, because there's this tendency to assume that just because one is an Aamir fan, one cannot like SRK films. This is, of course, not true.

I have indeed enjoyed several Shah Rukh films (at least one of which is in my top 10 favorite films of all time) -- it's just that the redundancy of themes in his movies mean I don't expect much from him. That's just my opinion -- no one has to agree or disagree with it. And I don't think I'm any more or less a fan of Bollywood because of it.

Back to Rab Ne...the typical twist did not bother me as much as the rest of the stuff, most significantly that it seemed forced and I was waiting for the film to end. What's 'not good' is not 'bad'? ;) I'm kidding, of course. Sure, there are gray areas, but seriously, I think it's just a bad film, and in this case, I think I'm right. If Aamir was in it (chances of that happening were nil), *I* would be the first to call it a bad film too.

All I strive for is a consistent benchmark. Let's separate the people from the problem. Let's treat Rab Ne independently!

theBollywoodFan said...

Saurabh: We'll have to agree to disagree on which film is obviously better made. I believe you had used the word 'awesome' for Ghajini here. I see that's since changed to 'not a very good film', and that's fine, miscommunications happen.

Production values are not entirely dependent on the plot. There are fundamentals of filmmaking that are common, regardless of the plot.

I also appreciate our different points of view on Aamir v SRK. I would much rather let THEM do the talking and trust what they say, and *not* pay much attention to what the media and gossip mongers need to stir :)

Let's not forget an Akshay Kumar and Anil Kapoor starrer -- Welcome -- was released the same day as TZP. It's the apples v oranges comparison. As long as there is a consistent standard the films are judged by, that's all that matters.

The only ones that are measurable are box office collections and DVD sales. And we know which actors rule those circuits. Aamir and Shah Rukh are both in that bucket. So again, let's not make this an Aamir v SRK debate. As I've said before, there's much to appreciate about both.

This post is about Rab Ne, not SRK, not Aamir!


dunkdaft said...

Oops..this getting much more a subject of discusssion.

But u said 'Let's treat Rab Ne independently!'

Yes, true. Even back here in India, I am tired of convicing people, that both are DIFFERENT . And can't be compared at all. Cause many people around me, knows me as a movie buff, and many have seen RNBDJ, so they just are curious whether to go for Ghajini or not. And there, poor me, can't convince them.:-(

theBollywoodFan said...

Totally with you on that, Darshit! It's interesting, isn't it? I think Chandi Chowk to China will benefit from Ghajini's success, as it should.

It's actually pretty scary that some people haven't figured out how different Aamir and Shah Rukh are from each other in their approaches to cinema. If they let the success or failure of one guide their viewing of the other, they're missing out on some good films, that's for sure!

Ellie said...

I have to weigh in as the lone person here who absolutely loved RNBDJ. Not because it was a good film per se-- although I did think that SRK did a good job and I liked his character-- but because, I confess, I am a big fan of the genre and I found the whole thing hugely enjoyable. It's kind of like reading romance novels (which I don't do, in fact)-- people who love them know they're not "good", but they love them anyway! It all depends on what you're looking for in an entertainment experience. When I want to actually think during a movie, I certainly don't pop in the typical SRK starrer, but I can't help it, I love them anyway.

Maybe my husband and I (he also, possibly atypically, is a huge fan of the genre) liked this so much because it's the first Hindi film we saw in the cinema and it was so much fun!

Happy New Year!

Ellie said...

Sorry to pop up suddenly again but-- just thinking about the biggest complaint about the movie in general: the Raj character: Yes, he was dreadfully obnoxious, and SRK played him considerably more ham-handedly than even he usually does-- but that was the point, wasn't it? "Raj" is not a real person-- he's Suri trying to be "awesome" and signally failing. So you have SRK playing somebody who isn't cool trying to play somebody who IS cool... OK, seriously, done defending this movie now. :) But I really did think SRK was great as Suri, specifically.

The motorcycle/sumo things I could have done without, though.

theBollywoodFan said...

Happy 2009 Ellie, and congrats to you and yours for your first Hindi film at the cinema! I distinctly recall my first, it was for an Amitabh Bachchan film, and a lot of fun!

SRK as Suri did well, given the script of Rab Ne. And I appreciate him trying to pull this one off. Haven't read any romance novels (the vast majority of what I read is non-fiction, what isn't that is usually historic fiction, both of several friends and family seem to have an issue with when it comes to discussing books over the dining table, LOL), but certainly appreciate your viewpoint, and can see how one would like the film.

That's a fine observation on Raj and his character. It certainly appeared to be an effort to distinguish further between Suri and Raj, because apparently the height, built and voice didn't get Taani skeptical (which is something I can live with, as noted before), so the attitudes had to be complete opposites. Taani's character development I did find contradictory, though, e.g. why she would want to stick around the obnoxious Raj beyond the first couple of meetings could have been better explained. If it was, I wasn't paying attention, in which case the film must be held accountable for not being engaging! ;)

My biggest complaint was with the production values and dialogue, given I didn't find the emotional depth involving. That made it seem like a half-hearted attempt at making a film, with little attention to detail (e.g. sets).

Your Google account seems to be working fine now. And please, please always feel welcome to comment and present your points of view! We say all the time the beauty of art is that it can mean so many things to so many people, which is completely true.


Pitu said...

Waaaaaah. It wan't that terrrrrrrrible. Weally, SRK was the cootchie cooest! Ok, I know that line of reasoning ain't gonna work on you but you need to be possessed by Pitu Sultan's ghost to know what I mean. Then again, less lurve for SRK = less competition for me ;-D so it's all good! Hehehe.

theBollywoodFan said...

LOL Pitu, you're right on! I am ever willing to succumb to the manipulative tendencies of Bollywood, so I don't see why I wouldn't give the Sultan a chance, especially if we're talking about Anushka instead -- I hear she's single ;)

Even low expectations of a Shah Rukh film are pretty high. Just when he seemed to be up to some interesting stuff...I really liked his other film this year (Bhootnath) more. The cootchie coo-ness is something that's not debatable, so before I get myself in trouble... =)

Competition ka toh sawaal hi nahin paida hota, so my more or less lurve se 'Ki farq painda hai?', LOL...it's all good. Billu Barber should be fun, especially with Irrfan Khan added in the mix!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I just read Ellie's comments and I agree abt the Raj observation. I read a Mumbai Mirror interview of SRK (interesting trivia ahead) where he said that he modeled both characters- Suri and Raj on two actual contestants who had come on Kya Aap Panchvi Pass Se Tez Hain?

Apparently, Surinder Sahni the contestant upon being asked what he'd do with the money he wins, said that he'd give most of it to the poor *because* he is very middle class and he knows how hard life can be for the poor.

And Bobby the contestant (his name Bobby was even given to the Vinay Pathak charcter and Raj was given to the SRK alter ego) was this total wannabe type who came to the sets in garish clothes and with a guitar in tow. SRK asked him if he knew how to play it, and he answered No, but I carry it because it *looks* cool.

So both these real people were the inspiration points for the movie characters. Suri the middle class, small towner's notion of 'cool' is so wannabe that the clothes and styling 'have' to be hideous. It's like the puke worthy costumes of any David Dhawan/ Govinda/ Karisma movie. They work because all characters in those films are so over-the-top.

Anyway, yet another reason I give full credit to SRK and none to Adi Chopra because while I loved the characters, it's obvious SRK put in all the hard work. What exactly was Adi doing? Catching up on his sleep? :-p

theBollywoodFan said...

That's really very interesting, thank you much for sharing! That Bobby dude would be very interesting case study material for a psychologist like my sister (a big SRK fan).

So I do appreciate the characters more now, except that if someone like Govinda played it, at least Raj would have been more charismatic (still in a negative way)!

Adi totally deserves to be held accountable, that we agree on 100%. Without SRK, this would have been

a) a total flop instead of a hit, and
b) even less engaging than Drona! (Okay, I realize I crossed the line in that last sentence, lol...sau kodey manjoor hai Maharaj!). I wonder if things would have been different had SRK played a farmer/poor villager and had the same issue instead. At least Filmistan's grass would look more authentic :o)

How about this for a twist? SRK in a double role! Suri's long-lost twin brother (let's call him...Raj2) is also at those dance classes, and after hanging out with Raj1 (who's still really Suri), Taani comes across Raj2 and realizes he's changed completely (of course, she's still thinking he's Raj1). Then Raj1 stops attending the classes, and Raj2 teaches Suri the ropes behind the scenes a la Love Guru in Partner, after which Suri replaces Raj2 in the dance classes and Suri and Taani still end up together! Okay, I know that's silly, and something Raj1 would say, LOL...I'd better stop before getting myself in trouble.

Anonymous said...

O my head, my head. Yaar itna dimaag mat ladaaya karo! Tere filmi permutations and combinations mere liye too much ho gaye lol! Jao jaake koi ghatiya pikture (read: Child's Play in Hindi) dekhake aao, I command you!

theBollywoodFan said...

Your wish is my command, O wise Sultan! :) Really, I think we've all seen our share of not so good pictures, although I really think one needs to sit through Drona or Love Story 2050 to appreciate how colossally disappointing they were (I know I'm asking for it now, but I actually liked Yuvvraaj, and know I'm one of a very select few who did, LOL)... :o)

Somehow seen Drona, but maybe I need to try to see Love Story a fourth time then...Piggy Chops ab tak screen par nahin tashreef laayeen, so at least there's some incentive. Then I can sing to Rab Ne..."Tab jaake aya mere, bechain
dil ko qaraar", ROTFL. Too funny yaar...Sultan ki JAYE HO!

Kanan said...

Dude, you'd be surprised to know I just watched Rab Ne again in theater yesterday. For the very first time in life I watched same movie in theater AGAIN! ;) LOL!

As for the movie, no comments, but I do love "haule haule".

A Happy New Year 2009 to you :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Kanan, and thank you for your comment. Please always feel free to disagree and share your appreciation of Rab Ne. As I said above, different viewpoints are what make any form of art so incredibly interesting*. Haule Haule is fun. But the first time in theaters twice must be great! Did you like it any more or less the second time around?

*I know we are among the minority who didn't dislike Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi, so it's not that we have entirely different tastes =)

Anonymous said...

Ek Vivah Aisi Bhi is a remake of the old Rajshri movie " Tapasya" - Rakhee did a fab job in the original and it was a very big hit those days. All other supporting actors also did a good job. The new version was such a yawn! Couldn't see it for more than 10 mins!

theBollywoodFan said...

Thanks for the note on Tapasya, Anonymous. I'm not sure 'Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi' was convincing enough to get one to check out the original. Having said that, this new version would certainly have been a yawn like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi if it weren't for the music and lyrics, which made it bearable. The film itself could have been condensed to 45 minutes and still been as effective!

Anonymous said...

OK nawab, so what did you want from the cinematogrpphy? More of those camera panning in a spinning style around the characters? ;)
Thanks to Pitu for letting me know about this interesting tidbit:
"read a Mumbai Mirror interview of SRK (interesting trivia ahead) where he said that he modeled both characters- Suri and Raj on two actual contestants who had come on Kya Aap Panchvi Pass Se Tez Hain?" Cool!
All the best!

theBollywoodFan said...

Adab Sita-ji: Pitu always has great info on SRK!

I guess I kept waiting for *something* in RNBDJ to make a neutral film fan take note, and I never got it. I found the cinematography, like the film, to be boring and too monotonous.

Sure, those spinning cameras would have helped! It's not that the lead cast suffers from fear of overkill when it comes to over-the-top stuff. Might as well go all out :D