Posted: 27 December 2008 at 9:00am | IP Logged
Why Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi rocks!
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Dec 27, 2008
For the last couple of weeks blogposts, reviews and opinion pieces supporting and criticising about Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi have been flooding the virtual space. If the headline of this post hasn't made my stand clear allow me to spell it out – Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is perhaps one of the finer (if not the finest) films of this year.
People have condemned its lack of screenplay and the inability of Taani to recognise her husband among other things. Then there have been other noble souls who have written how it lacked the trademark gloss and glamour of a Yashraj Film.
Indeed, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is no Polish art film. Neither is it a groundbreaking movie about love and life. In fact the song Hum hain raahi pyaar ke seemed like a poorer cousin of OSO's title track and Dhoom Tana and the film could have well been shorter.
But having said that, I would agree with what a senior Hindi-speaking colleague recently said. Rab Ne cannot be judged by 'Lokhandwala* standards'. It is set in the heart of Amritsar, which though not a remote Indian village set-up, does have a culture that is not necessarily as open as Mumbai is.
It is in this culture that Taani – having lost her fianc and her father – finds herself being married off to the much-older and boring Surinder Sahni.
Taani is shown to be a free spirit – we are told that hers is a love marriage. So why then, as my intellectual friends would ask, does she have to obey her father's wishes?
After walking into her new house, she locks herself in the room for an entire day. But the very next day she confronts Suri – significantly not in his room but rather in the open confines of the house – and apologises to him. She confesses that marrying him was entirely her choice and she had no right to behave the way she did.
It is perhaps this one line that did the trick for me. Unintentionally perhaps, it explored the very post-modern concept of the problem of choice.
Thinkers suggest that however hard we may want to believe otherwise, we never really have a choice. Or to rephrase it a little, we are all victims of our choices.
We may not like our jobs or our relationships or the food someone cooks at home for us. Yet we continue to live each day saying to ourselves that it was after all our choice. So when we can forgive ourselves for our choices, why can't we not forgive Taani for hers?
Let us for few minutes agree upon the fact that ALL of Taani's choices – marrying Suri, harbouring feelings for Raj and then turning back to Suri – were made in moments of weakness.
However, what makes Taani the heroine is not that she let her heart rule her head during all those times but rather that she had the spine to stand by her choices and decisions and live with a man she could probably never love.
So in way, Taani is far more progressive than any of us who have criticised her (and her story) for being otherwise.
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is far different than any of the other Yash Raj films so far. Being set in Amritsar, there is little or no scope for the usual glamour. The little glam we see is in the female dance instructors who are forever clad in really short hotpants.
Now the dance class in itself becomes a symbol for everything that Mumbai (and YRF films) stands for – sexy, sassy, wild, free… and well glossy!
The moment we step into the dance class, it's a different world – where even Taani dumps her patiala-kurta for a more comfortable figure-hugging costume! But step out and we are back in the small by-lanes with cycle rickshaws, handcarts and loose wires running from the corner of one house to another.
It is this dichotomy that some of us have probably failed to notice. To use a much-abused phrase, we're living in two Indias here – the one that survives on malls, multiplexes and fast foods and the other that is trying hard to get there. We should probably be thankful to be in the privileged part. But should that not be reason enough not to write off the others?
PS: Oh yes, the part about Taani not recognising her husband was according to be the best part of the film. At least Suri had a moustache; Clark Kent didn't have that either. So what's the problem, bhai?