Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008)

rnbdj

Sweet geeky Punjabis meet Barbara Cartland! How can that not be delightful? As usual I am late to this party, which normally would stop me from writing about it but since in this case I found the film so much more wonderful than most of my friends and blogging compadres did, I feel the need to bloble (blog+burble) away. Incidentally, I watched RNBDJ with my sister, who also loved it, and it helped to have each other’s company and input on the rare occasions (almost entirely at the end) where the hackles did rise.

I am not a fan of Adi Chopra’s; I know I’ve mentioned elsewhere here that I did not like DDLJ much at all. But I didn’t feel this was permeated to nearly the same annoying degree of condescending-men-know-best that his other films have been, thanks in large part to Taani’s character (very nicely acted by Anushka Sharma); but also in large part thanks to the characters of Suri/Raj and Bobby Khosla (also well acted by Shah Rukh Khan and Vinay Pathak). All three are so patently ineffective at being that sort of paternalistic man that it is a joy to watch Suri’s bumbling but well-intentioned efforts to win Taani’s heart succeed—and succeed precisely because he is inept at “macho.”

Her father’s wanting her to be married off before he dies didn’t bother me much either, since I think most parents (even mine!) worry about their children being “alone” in the world. And in Indian society anyway it’s my experience that unmarried women are pitied by men and women alike! Family life is so important there that I can believe a woman who has just lost her beloved fiance and is about to lose her only remaining family member is more likely to feel that it doesn’t matter any more whom she marries, rather than that she doesn’t want to marry anybody (which would be more likely how I’d feel).

rnbdj_asyouwish

Other criticism of this that I have read centered around how unrealistic it is: well, it is, yes! Duh! But I don’t necessarily require realism from an all-out entertainer like this. I’ve confessed my weakness for romance novels on this blog before. The premise of this film could have been lifted (if I believed that Adi Chopra reads Barbara Cartland, which I don’t really, although it might endear him more to me) almost exactly (except with genders reversed) from one of my favorite Cartland novels called “Desire of the Heart.” That novel’s tagline is: “Dangerous Masquerade: She was flirting with a reckless deception to hold the man she loved.” (I know, I know! But when you are an unattractive teenager you long for someone to come along and transform you, too!)

rnbdj_book

The heroine in this book marries a man whom she loves, but who does not love her (a marriage of “convenience”) although he doesn’t treat her badly. She transforms herself from an awkward, dowdy country mouse into a beautiful woman with the help of a friend, and wins her husband’s love as a stranger not by changing her essential self, just the external trappings (which give her the confidence to get to know him and allow him to get to know her).

At the end she tests his love just as Surinder did in this—and this is where the movie did fail a bit for me. Her husband tells his dowdy wife that he’s fallen in love with another woman and offers her a generous divorce settlement. Maybe given Indian culture (or more specifically Adi Chopra’s mind-set) this could not happen when a woman was leaving her marriage instead of a man. But it is the point where I rolled my eyes finally: to believe in Taani’s epiphany that her husband and marriage was more important than her happiness with Raj exasperated me. I would have much preferred that she be honest with Suri about her feelings for Raj, and then have him show up for the final competition as Suri. His plan to just walk away if she decided on running away with Raj made me want to scream—it is a supreme and total Fail. Suri’s selfish, misplaced pride and insecurity gets to dictate the course of her life. I wanted to slap him for it.

However, this glitch at the end was pretty minor for me compared to the major goodness throughout the rest of it. Even all the religious overtones didn’t bother me too much—I personally am much closer to atheism on the belief spectrum, but I’ve long ago accepted that in Hindi film I’m going to have to let that go. At least Surinder many times said that he saw God in Taani, and it wasn’t the one-sided woman seeing God in her husband that I usually have to swallow. And here are some of the things I loved about it.

The Bobby-Suri bromance: The two of them are so hilarious together, and so…well, GEEKY. Bobby is a wannabe hipster who just *doesn’t* quite cut it, although Suri certainly thinks he’s got some authority. But they are both such nice, sweet, well-intentioned guys who care about each other.

rnbdj_bromance

And Bobby’s advice to Suri—although he doesn’t take it—to tell Taani the truth, along with his attempts to point out how unfair Suri is being to her go a long way towards mitigating my irritation at Suri’s choices. At least I am not the only one thinking “No that’s wrong!!!”

Bobby Khosla: Vinay Pathak is great. His Bobby is a blond-spiky-haired goofball in gaudy shirts trying so desperately to be cool. And he’s such an unashamed sentimentalist, bless him.

rnbdj_balwinder

Surinder Sahni: I think this is one of SRK’s best performances. So many little details go into making this character someone to root for: his wish for his wife’s pain to diminish, and for her to retain her true character; his empathy for how she must be feeling when she comes to his home as a bride in mourning; and above all, his inept fumblings and deep-rooted insecurities—how can you not want him to get his girl?

rnbdj_geek

And how sweet is his unabashed infatuation for the tiffin which for him symbolizes his wife’s care:

rnbdj_tiffin

I also love his complete dislike for Raj’s tight clothes!

rnbdj_tight

I didn’t even care that his obviously low-level clerking job at Punjab Power could not possibly justify his luxuriously gorgeous house. It just made me giggle every time he said:

rnbdj_pp

Ji!

The flamboyant Raj: I loved that despite his changed appearance, Raj was really no different than Suri—still the same personality, but thinking that he looked cool as Raj helped Suri come out of his shell (way too much, a great deal of the time!). The film could not have worked at all if Suri had been suddenly transformed into someone more “Shah Rukh Khan-like”—and it could have been difficult to resist the temptation to make him that way—but keeping Raj as ineptly uncool as Suri is was perfect (although his endless film-title dialogues wore a bit thin).

rnbdj_partner

Taani: As many people have pointed out, Anushka Sharma is perfect in this role. She’s not too glamorous, not too gullible, not too sweet; instead she’s a normal girl who has found herself in a situation of her own making, and she tries to make the best of it without losing sight of who she is. She also has the good sense to first dislike the idiot Raj, and then to realize that he has some wonderful qualities. If she was slower to notice that about her husband, can we blame her? He didn’t do nearly as much to draw her attention to himself.

rnbdj_taani

The songs: I loved Salim-Suleiman’s songs, all of them, and like most people really enjoyed the cameo appearances and cinematic references to stars and days gone by. It was especially nice to see Rani, whom we don’t see nearly enough of these days.

rnbdj_rani

And I can never NOT love a Shammi reference!

rnbdj_yahoo

The cinematography: From the gorgeous house where Suri and Taani lived, to the streets of Amritsar and the Golden Temple, and the song picturizations, I thought the film was beautifully shot and presented. I already wanted to see Amritsar: now I really really really want to.

rnbdj_amritsar

In short (too late! I know!), I liked just about everything here—the characters (all the minor characters were well-drawn too), the story, the performances, the music, the dialogues and above all the humor. Anything I disliked pales next to how much I just really enjoyed sitting through this. If only Dara Singh had been in it too! For other—different!—takes on this by people whose opinions I respect you can go here and here (if you haven’t read them already).

Edited to add: And for a much more eloquent and well-written view of this film that mirrors mine almost exactly (including the Cartland reference!), go here!

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119 Comments to “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008)”

  1. Barbara Cartland? I thought she was a British thing?

    • She was British :-) But many authors from across the pond are easy to find here too!

      • Ah! In which case let me be the first to congratulate you on
        a very slick, professionally done photo-shopping. I am
        guessing you nicked the cover from amazon. :)

        • Not from Amazon, although I did find it online (and it’s the exact same edition that I have!!!) :-) and thank you *curtseys* I don’t do many things well but I am a whiz at Photoshop. Although it could have been better were I not so lazy.

          And you are v. polite to focus on that instead of telling me what a twit I am for liking this film that nobody else did (except my sister, perhaps it’s a genetic thing).

          • And you are v. polite to focus on that instead of telling me what a twit I am for liking this film that nobody else did (except my sister, perhaps it’s a genetic thing).

            Hey! Not at all! If we all liked the same
            things the world would be an incredibly
            boring place. And I never understood
            people who insist on watching movies
            they know is not meant for them AND
            then proceed to tell everyone how their
            incredibly evolved sensibilities was
            offended by such movies. :-)

          • Exactly! Why would anyone who requires realism watch a Yashraj—esp. Adi Chopra—film? Why?

      • Barbara Cartland. Secret, silly love. :) I liked ‘Rab ne Bana dee Jodi’ too, totally rooting for Suri. Yes, some irritating stuff but what the hell! Shahrukh made me cry.

  2. I feel like everyone likes this movie quite a bit except PPCC and me. Hmmm.

    After reading October’s awesome, epic writeup (http://octoberzine.blogspot.com/2009/06/flirting-with-reckless-deception.html), I’ll have a lot more to think about if I ever watch this again. One idea that she brings up that I really like is giving Surinder a little room for his dumb decisions by realizing how they must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Surinder really doesn’t have any workable plans – like Taani, he finds himself in a surprising situation, and it was easy for me to forget that because I didn’t think to feel sorry for him the way I did for Taani.

    I’m trying to learn to bite my tongue about the god thing. I will say, though, that in this particular film it was the nature of the god they kept rambling about that bothered me most – I don’t think the film gave good evidence for god being a very nice force most of the time, so why would you want to be matched up by that?

    • I just edited this post to add the link to her :-) I disagree about everyone liking it though, I have not read one single positive review of it—and I’ve read quite a few of them! I had majorly low expectations, but I don’t think that’s why I liked it. I think Karen and I maybe saw a different film than everybody else!

      I don’t think Surinder made bad decisions (except the one I talk about); I think he just wanted to be near her, and thought if he disguised himself she wouldn’t notice. All the later things that grew out of that one decision were a bit inevitable—not thought through, but not poor decisions on his part either.

    • And as far as the God thing goes—pretty much every God that I know of isn’t very nice a great deal of the time. Otherwise, how can you explain the stuff that goes on in this world every day? It’s one reason I don’t believe in God, but if you do it’s pretty inescapable that He/She/Them is/are not very benign. It doesn’t stop people from asking Him/Her/Them for stuff all the time though!

      • hope you don’t mind me adding my opinion in your conversation.

        God is for ME neither benign nor evil. He/She/It is above it.
        The message (from what I’ve heard till now), which comes across from the film is that God is Love just like in Bhakti Yoga, Sufism, Mystic paths of Christianity and Sikhism.

        • You are always welcome to chime in :) That’s what my sister got out of RNBDJ too—the message is more than anything that God Is Love. And yes, I think at least in Christianity the belief is that God is above what we humans do, and we can’t and needn’t make sense of it. I prefer science to religion though ;-)

          • Science is great.
            I prefer spirituality to religion. And I like both science and spirituality, for me at least they don’t exclude each other.

  3. OMG! Freakyweird! Besides my sisters, I think you’re the only person I’ve ever met who’s heard of this book. (Or should I say, us and Aditya Chopra? Ha ha!) I have that same blue edition, too, although the purplish gown she seems to be wearing on the cover isn’t nearly chic enough, considering…

    • I know!!! MY sister’s never heard of it until yesterday. Do you think Adi Chopra has read it? I have to wonder, the plots are so very very similar. And I mostly remember it for the clothes and diamond hair pins she had, similar to you :-D

    • My sister has now joined our ranks, she read it last evening :-)

  4. The only other Barbara Cartland I even remember (of the zillion I read) is “An Innocent in Paris” (orginal title — gasp! — “A Virgin in Paris”), which was also set among the “demi-monde.” I sense a theme. But “Desire of the Heart” is definitely the Cartland creme.

    • I read a lot of them too, but DOTH is the only one I kept (or really remember). I liked Georgette Heyer better generally :-) but they were all pretty similar!

      • Heyer is way better – and I love her sense of humour! I remember reading DOTH years ago (as a teenager), and yes, it does follow a similar story as Rab ne Bana di Jodi.
        I wouldn’t be surprised if Adi Chopra did pick the basic story from a Cartland! – Someone I know, a well-respected author and a very prominent academician, is addicted to Heyers. So why not? ;-)
        And I liked Rab ne…, overall. The constant thing of spouse=God got on my nerves a bit, and I found it hard to believe that sticking a moustache on could transform Suri into Raj (but then, it could be construed as her never having paid any attention to Suri) – despite that, fun. And like pacifist, I saw this around the same time as Ghajini, which I hated: it was just so violent and for so long.

        • I was just so happy that the spouse=God thing WORKED BOTH WAYS that I couldn’t be annoyed. And references to God are so completely ubiquitous in Hindi cinema that they just kind of go by unnoticed for me most of the time now.

      • @Memsaab No wonder I love your blogs! I just love, LOVE Georgette Heyer. IMO her ‘Convenient Marraige’ is the most hilarious romance I ever read!

  5. I’m among the minority who loved this film. Much more than Gajani which I didn’t like at all.
    I find RNBDJ and its dealings with God more believable and acceptable than all the nonsense that went on in the other one.

    • Yay! You can join me and Karen and Marta! I haven’t seen Ghajini and don’t really want to. Probably won’t—it doesn’t seem the kind of film I would enjoy, which isn’t to say it isn’t good.

  6. Sounds like you really enjoyed it! Ajnabi watched this (with her sister, too I think) and they had a blast with it, according to her post. I think had I seen this on DVD instead of rushing to the theater, I would have been less disappointed. I loved the music, though, and probably will rewatch, because the more reviews that I read on it, the more I want to give it another shot!

    Initially, I was too repulsed by the Raj character–but you make a good point. Would someone like Suri be able to magically transform his personality into someone as slick and smooth as the trademark SRK image? Probably not, which is why Raj was far from just that. Something for me to think about should I watch this again.

    That Barbara Cartland novel sounds soo good, BTW!

    • I loved that Raj was so repulsive :-) And that she thought so too!!! So hilarious. Do watch it again, I’d forgotten that Ajnabi liked it too—I think her review was one of the things that prompted me to give it a try!

  7. Memsaab, I think Adi is the director of this movie. Check the titles on who wrote the story. The story writer may be a Cartland fan too.

    HHoney Irani is known to lift stories from romance books (M&Bs) and give them a desi masala twist – eg Jab Pyaar Kissi Se Hota Hai etc

  8. Oh I did not like this movie – found it boring even to watch on DVD.

  9. Hi memsaab,
    Though the movie did try to take an advantage of Bollywood’s current favourite locales of Punjab, but still, the plus point was that it showed “The Golden Temple” beautifully.

    So do visit there, whenever you can, as it is surely a place to be atleast once in a lifetime. In few words, the divine place, still has the vibes of a living temple.

    Regarding the movie “RBVDJ” a similar plot was earlier there in the 1975 released movie called “PONGA PANDIT” having Randhir Kapoor in the lead. In that movie too he disguises as a pop star and returns to flirt with his own wife and tries to win over her. You can read more about the movie at the following links :

    http://www.bobbytalkscinema.com/recentpost.php?postid=postid032609134951

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318584/

    Do let me know, how do you fee about the similar themes and “Ponga Pandit”

    • Oh, Amritsar and the Punjab is definitely in my travel plans one of these days. This film did show the Golden Temple off so beautifully, but it seems to me like one of those places that would probably always look beautiful!

      Did you mention Ponga Pandit here before? I’ve been looking for it (on DVD with subtitles) and had no luck :( It’s on my list of things to look for, though, it definitely sounds right up my alley! Do read Octoberzine’s review of RNBDJ (linked at the end of my post)—it’s a very thoughtful essay on the whole masquerade issue.

  10. Ya, i think i did mention it in reply to something related to plagiarism in Bollywood. The movie might have been released on VCD or DVD in India. though i watched it on a movie channel, but still i would try to find more info on it its availablilty.

  11. Haven’t seen the movie, but you make it sound good.
    The only thing that puts me off is Barbara Cartland!

  12. Memsaab,
    Phew. I am not alone after all! Clearly there is a small group who love this film and I am glad to fall into that category with you. Though my review isn’t nearly as in-depth as yours, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this one. I don’t think I even really talked about the God thing, and while I suppose it played a large factor in the movie, I am not overly religious and so I focused more on the story itself. I loved Suri’s insecure and hesitant love (even if I was yelling at him for some of his decisions), I loved how insanely hard Raj tried to be cool, I LOVE the music, I love how I get instantly emotional at the end almost to the point of happy tears every single time I watch it.

    At any rate, I will consider myself in good company on this one.

    • Yay! Our club gets bigger. I’m like you—I didn’t think much about the “god” aspect, except to note gratefully that it was a two-way street, a welcome relief. Sounds like we appreciated the same things! :-)

  13. Okay – I didn’t want to watch this based on the PPCC and Beth’s reviews but I think you changed my mind.

    (I used to LOVE romance novels when I was a young teen – much better than actual romance with teen boys (EW!) anyways.) XD

    • Yup, I loved it almost unreservedly, and so did my sister. I maybe saw a different film from PPCC and Beth! It was a solid, well-done effort with lots of humor and just great characters. Do see it and tell me what you think! (and LOL@better than actual romance—sometimes I think my romance novel habit raised my level of expectations to an insane height that nobody could ever live up to! including me, of course!)…

  14. Barbara Cartland was very popular in India, when I was growing up – among the same crowd that read M&B novels (and yes, I did read them too, but thankfully discovered Heyer early enough and never looked back! :-))
    I wouldn’t be surprised if Adi or the storywriter did nick the story from a BC book…..
    Funily enough, while I have enough gripes about the movie, I thought the setting, with the house and their overall lifestyle was very realistic!

    As for Suri’s house – wasn’t there mention someplace of his having inherited it from his parents? That makes sense to me (I knew several people who inherited houses like Suri’s from their parents – of course, given modernity, most of them sold those houses and retired to flats!)

    M

  15. Oh and regarding realism – all except Taani’s pathetic attempts at housekeeping :-)

    M

    • Okay, let’s start a rumor that Adi Chopra steals story ideas from Barbara Cartland! Taani’s attempts at housecleaning trumped mine, so I can’t complain. And I didn’t mind the grandiose house—I coveted it in fact—why would anyone SELL a house like that? I guess they’d be expensive to maintain. It was beautiful though. It was ALL beautiful.

  16. lol Seems like blogland is neatly divided into like- and hate- RNBDJ camps! I need to check it out to find which camp I fall into. And add me on the list of Barbara Cartland readers (long before I discovered Heyer and left “innocent” heroines whose “soul soared to heaven” on being kissed by the hero!). I dont know if I’ve read DOTH or not – but there were several of BC’s books with that sort of theme. I would give Adi Chopra extra points for doing the make-over of a guy – something that I think BC never even dreamed might be required!

    • Exactly! I love that it’s gender-reversed! although I wish I could believe that if it hadn’t been the heroine would have been allowed to stay kind of geeky like Suri was. I’m not sure we’re there yet though. Do watch it—I really loved it.

      • Hey that reminds me, there is an absolutely adorable adorable Dharam-Hema starrer “Tum Haseen main Jawan” (comple with cute baby and
        actually funny for a change Poppat Lal(Rajendra) where the plot line IS
        Hema vamping it up but normal Hema insisting it is not her. Also as
        added bonus for males and only males, there is an
        absolutely jaw-dropping scene early on. :)

        • Yes, I think I’ve reviewed that film here somewhere :-) I love it!!! Hema in her blue cleopatra wig is awesome! And Rajendranath gets to wear a saree too as I recall :-D

  17. Three quarters of the way through I was in total heaven, but lost it with the silly sumo wrestling scene, and then thought the whole plot resolution was unsatisfactory. One of my favorite versions of this plot is the 1930 Cecil B. Ce Mille “Madam Satan.” http://www.moviediva.com/MD_root/reviewpages/MDMadamSatan.htm When Kay Johnson disguses herself in an awsome Adrian gown and an unconvincing French accent, her straying husband no longer recognizes her, but hubba hubba. All’s well that ends well. I wonder if Barbara Cartland saw “Madam Satan”?

    • I so LOVED how she reacted to the sumo wrestler scene though! She totally called him out on it, and on his lame excuse for why he did it (even if she did apologize the next day). And I was frustrated at first by the resolution, but when I examined it in the full context of what had been going on throughout, I found it mostly okay (except for the bit I’ve complained about already in the post)…

      I *NEED* *NEED* *NEED* to see Madan Satan. Is it on DVD? Please say it is!!!!!

  18. Another great movie not on DVD! You can get VHS copies on e*Bay, or wait for Turner Classic Movies to show it. The party on the Zeppelin is Art Deco Bollywood before Bollywood!

  19. Hey Memsaab,

    Glad to see you liked this movie as I did too. In fact, reading your review is making me want to push RNBDJ to the top of my Netflix list — I want to see it again! And Amritsar is on my travel list too!

    BTW, thanks for the reference to Induna in one of your recent reviews. I had forgotten about the site and went there after your reference to it. I found several films I hadn’t been able to find elsewhere and have even corresponded w/ the owner who is hopeful of obtaining other hard to find films I’ve been looking for. A great site.

    Thanks, as always, for your interesting reviews.

    Sally

  20. No “not poor” me Memsaab but lucky me for seeing this boring movie on DVD and not wasting my time and $$$ watching it on the big screen!

  21. Hi Memsaab,
    As discussed earlier, I would like to share the info on the movie “Ponga Pandit” having released on video.
    In India, it has been released by “Shemaroo Video” on VCD & DVD format.

    I hope the info serves the purpose, but If you still cannot get hold of it then please let me know.

    Cheers!

  22. Memsaab, I wish I was able to give a hug! This is a film I liked a lot and you reviewed it so brilliantly.

    No wonder people who read BC like this film! And amazingly enough I have not read The Desire of the Heart, and I wish to remedy that soon.

    One of the things that I liked a lot in SRK’s performance is that he arranged the mannerisms of Suri and Raj so brilliantly that they both carry something from each other. So happy that you commented on that.

    Once again thank you and not just for this brilliant review :)

    • I think it’s interesting that so many people DIDN’T see it the way we did! Yes, agree completely re: SRK’s handling of both characters—same to same but different :-D

  23. I loved this movie too. Sharukh was really good. And yes, I did not like Ghajni – I think it was just al oud South Indian melodramitic movie in Hindi. As for Asin, she is no Sridevi. Dont like Sridevi so much either – but Asin makes her look great! Coming back to RBDJ – i thought it was one of the best movies of 2008.

    • I have no wish to see Ghajini…when I met Aamir in March, he asked if I’d seen it and I told him that I probably wouldn’t; he seemed to understand, but then he asked if I’d seen this film yet! and I said that I hadn’t because it wasn’t out on DVD yet…then realized that it might sound insulting to him! At least I didn’t have to tell him how much I loved RNBDJ though!

  24. I only read one Barbara Cartland novel, and couldn’t take the endless one-sentence paragraphs, but I do like a good romance novel, which probably explains my fondness for RNBDJ. I’m so very glad I’m not alone in my enjoyment of it.

    • I always hated the way her heroines spoke in breathless gasps, punctuated with …

      As in “I had…to be sure” and “I love…you” ARGHH.

      And your review galvanized me into watching it—I’d been avoiding it since nobody else seemed to think it was any good :-)

  25. Blue Lotus – pls watch movies like “Mounaragam”, “Nenjathai Killadai”, “Mozhi” in tamil and “Anand”, “Happy Days” and “Bomairllu” in telugu (with English sub titles) for a start to enjoy well made South Indian movies ie good story, acting and music.

  26. @bluelt@luelotus – I think you should be condemned to watch “Himmatwallah” in an endless loop for your condescending
    attitude t towards South Indian films. :)

    @memsab: I just realized greatbong (who is screamingly funny when he is sarcastic) has reviewed the movie too.
    http://greatbong.net/2008/12/18/rab-ne-bana-di-jodi-the-review/ (Don asbesto sheets before reading. :) )

    • To be fair to Blue Lotus, I have seen a few very loud and melodramatic south Indian films (I think the intent was to say that it was a bad remake of a bad film) (I haven’t seen either version and don’t want to!) I have seen some good south Indian films too, but I would bet a year’s salary that every film industry on earth has made some loud melodramatic bad films!

      I read greatbong’s review; it was one among many (although funnier than most) ripping the film to shreds. I just don’t think he saw the same film I did!!! :-D

      • You read even greatbong? Hmm, you need to try and see if you can become a full time film journalist. :)

      • You have seen a few good south indian films too? Pray where are the reviews?

        Fully agree with you about film industry world wide having some crappy movies. The point is one should appreciate the good too. Don’t we see a lot of crap in hindi movies too?

        I agree with Sunil about Himmatwala and the other 80s melodramatic hindi movies starring Sridevi, Jeetendra and Jayaprada. Shudder in horror. Most of these were remakes of telugu movies. I was smart in avoiding all those movies and would never recommend anyone to watch those. Infact my twin and I used to have a pact, never to see any Jeetendar movie those days after seening the huge posters on our way to college. We, however, did appreciate Jeetendar in Gulzar’s movies esp Parichary and Khusboo

        • I haven’t seen any since I started writing this blog! I saw a few more towards the beginning of my Indian film watching career…will try to remedy it at some point. Several of them I would like to see again, actually!

    • thanks for the great bong tip!
      he is great!

  27. This film ancapsulates one of the things that I love about Bollywood films – in that is is possible to have the hero/heroine do really stupid things, behave badly, or have horrible character traits and they’re still sympathetic. On the one hand – Suri’s decisions at the end of the film (or all the way through) are stupid and unsatisfying for the audience, but on the other they make sense for the character (people make stupid decisions in real life!!) and I completely understand why he made the decisions he did. He’s incredibly insecure with low self-esteem – classic ingredients for stupid decisions.

    I half-liked this film- the religious aspect became a little weird towards the end (I fully accept the religious aspects of BW films).

    And I think I’m one of the few people who had no problem with the fact that Taani did not recognise her husband in Raj. Yes, he’s her husband, but they barely share a room and she’s too consumed with grief to really take any notice of this small, shy man. Shy, mousy people can be difficult to take notice of.

    Maybe I’ll change my mind if I watch again and I’ll really dislike it :)

    • I had no problem with her not recognizing Raj as Suri either. I also didn’t mind that Suri is quite a bit older than she is, even that I think fit well with the situation and the story. And although I didn’t like Suri’s decisions at the end, I did appreciate that the voice of reason WAS there in the form of Bobby’s character. I think I will always like this, no matter how many times I watch it!

  28. Sunil: I think I did not say it right. First of all I have not seen that many South Indian movies to make a general comment about all of them. But Ghajani got such great reviews and became such a big hit that my expectations were very high, especially because of Amir Khan, but it did not quite live up to my expectations. As far as South Indian actors are concerned I am a big fan of Vyjayantimala, Padmini and Hema Malini. I think the best dances had south Indian actresses – I am a big fan of Ragini, I thought she was absolutely fabulous in dances such as Tumko Piya dil Diya, Tu hai mera prem devata etc. I am also a big fan of veteran singer Janaki though I do not understand a word…. But Ghajini …did not do it for me.

    • Have you checked out Richard S’s blog, Rough In Here (link on my sidebar)…he also has a penchant for the south Indian actress-dancers, and posts a lot of great dances there.

  29. Well, I loved it as well, but it is the first BW film I’ve ever seen! It is really the closest thing to my beloved golden years of Hollywood movies.
    A question: what god is being referred to? Certainly, the white-bearded pic wasn’t Krishna…. On their day together they went to both a catholic church and somewhere else (mosque? Hindu shrine?)
    Is a mixture of faiths a common theme in BW?
    Interested Protestant newbie.
    Thanks!

    • Yay Margaret! Welcome to the fabulous world of BW…yes, religions are very often mixed together in Hindi movies. It’s a very pro-secular community and many films actually revolve around the idea that they are all equal—Hindu, Muslim, Christian.

      • Thanks, that was very helpful! (still wondering who the white-beard was!!)

        • see pacifist’s answer below (I always get answers to questions I ask here, it’s so wonderful)…

          • Thanks for that; much appreciated. Mystery solved. ;)

          • Thanks for that; much appreciated. Mystery solved.

            Sounds like I picked the right BW film for a first. Not knowing who SRK was, I can enjoy it without worrying about his ego. ;) I’m afraid another won’t live up to this one; I liked it SO much (.99 cents on eBay, I’m on the way to sharing it with friends!)

    • The white bearded person was Guru Gobind Singh, the founder of Sikhism. The God in question is ‘Rab’ or ‘Rabba’ whom Sikhs worship. And yep, the Golden Temple is a Sikh temple, not Hindu. So the religious overtones throughout the film are not Hindu, they are Sikh.

  30. I’m also late to this party, to the point that it’s almost over. :) (I remember I ‘discovered’ Seinfeld about 5 years into it.) I just saw it last week and put off reading any blogs about it until now, wanting a “clean” view. I also found Anushka perfect for the part. Loved when she got herself together and server the Punjab Power coworkers. SRK getting deeper and deeper into his lie until it became a complex problem of integrity and potential infidelity was also a twist I wasn’t expecting. The mega star item number practically put me into a seizure! That giant hat! All those filmy references. I LOVED IT! I’ll eventually do a post making me even later to this party.

    • LOL@discovering Seinfeld 5 years into it (cause it wasn’t much talked about? ha ha)…better late than never my dear (bet you didn’t see that coming!)…

  31. Interesting review. Especially since I did like DDLJ. Your obvious fondness for this movie has not sold me, though. I have not seen it, and even after reading your entertaining review, it still sounds like “Paheli 2:This time no ghosts or puppets”. I just can’t get why directors feel the need to keep feeding SRK’s already galaxy-sized ego by having him play dual roles. The fact that even such a thoughtfully well-written eulogy for this film still leaves me cold confirms it: with so many golden oldies to catch up on, my life is just too short for yet another SRK self-love feast.

    • I totally understand. Many people have recommended other Raj Kapoor films to me, but that doesn’t make me any more eager to watch them really :-) I liked this much better than Paheli, though. Also much better than DDLJ! But to each his own, and nothing wrong with that.

  32. @Margaret S
    [still wondering who the white-beard was!!)

    He’s one of the 10 gurus of the Sikhs (Guru Nanak, the first guru), revered by them.

    Golden Temple is the temple of the sikhs.
    Rab=God in Punjabi (the language of most sikhs). There is no image, no special name.

  33. Yayyyyyyyyyyyy I am so happy to read this review! I LURVED this movie (I blogged about it too). Some observations:

    1) The falling in love with disguised spouse thing is also in Raj Kapoor’s ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ starring Shashi and Zeenat Aman. She comes to him as this uber glamorous nymph like creature that he sings songs like ‘Chanchal komal sheetal’ to.

    2) The whole being a clerk, living in a grand house thing is not so rare. As he mentions in the movie, it’s his ancestral house (kothi). The bank manager (very middle class) of my mom’s bank in Mumbai lives in a sumptuous ancestral cottage right by the sea! The land alone must be worth crores and the cottage is very tastefully appointed with very old furnishings. But the guy himself is very geeky, simple and yes, mousy. And my mom’s yoga classmate actually owns a medieval fort (abandoned and crumbling but with massive acreage) in a small town 2 hrs from Mumbai. So yeah, it’s possible. A lot of desis in India will hold on to their ancestral homes even if selling and moving would make them rich, and I applaud them for that!

    • Me too! and I want to marry one and live in a house like this one, mousy geek or not!!! :-) I’d even try *very very hard* to keep it up. I hate seeing these gorgeous houses all crumbling.

      Methinks our dogs would love such a life too. Gemma would die a for a courtyard she could run in and out of.

      And yeah, I’m not going to watch Ghajini.

    • Ah yes, the SSS reference. The same thing occurred to me as well, except that the “disguised” Zeenat Aman didn’t seem to have as many problems with her clothing as much as the disguised SRK did :-D

  34. And yes, Ghajini sucked :p

  35. Hey,

    I finally watched this movie on DVD, after originally seeing it in the theatre last year. A second watching only increased my enthusiasm for this film. In particular, I had forgotten about the wonderful song picturizations. In one of your previous responses to my comment above about this film, you suggested I buy the DVD vs. just renting it from Netflix. You’re right — I will!

    Hope you’ve had a nice summer.

  36. Yay! I’m very happy to be able to watch this whenever I want to :) It’ll make any summer better!

  37. Just saw the movie!
    I only sat thro it coz’ my friends didn’t want to leave!
    Though it had some joyful moments like Tanni riding the bike and Suri/Raj not wanting to be macho.
    I just hated the fact that he doesn’t want to reveal Raj’s real identity. Is it really love to test the woman you love? To hurt her, even though your best friend explains the situation (kudos to him!) and advises you against it? What would he have done if Tanni really wanted to go with Raj? It seems Suri, though he depicts himself as the sacrificial lamb, he is too much in love with himself and his own story and his own image about himself.
    When Tanni says that she has to kill her former self, he doesn’t even object. Although he tells his best and only friend that he loves her former self, it is like I love her former self, otherwise it is completely okay to kill your soul.
    And I wonder if he would have seen God in her, if she weighed 200 kg and had pock marks on her face and ….
    That would have been something!

    • Good points harvey, especially if he’d love her had she been less attractive. Probably not, thought there’s a great Korean film titled “200 Pounds Beauty” where that does happen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/200_Pounds_Beauty.
      Anyway, regarding the excellent point you make here: “I just hated the fact that he doesn’t want to reveal Raj’s real identity. Is it really love to test the woman you love? To hurt her… ” In the supplemental disc to the filum, I recall in the interview with SRK him saying that he believed the essential message of his character was that one should not try and be someone they are not, since that is hurtful to everyone. That somewhat answers the question you pose here, since in the end of the film, they are both able to see the God in each other in their true personalities.

      • I liked the fact that they see God/Love in each other. But spiritually speaking that would would be totally a different cup of tea altogether. But I really don’t expect such depth from Adi Chopra. The basic idea is good. But I find this theme was better and sensitively dealt with in Swami. Though both the films are firmly established in a patriarchal society and thinking.
        Another scene that shocked me was, when Bobby asks Suri to slap Tanni, he (Suri) is not shocked at the proposal, but only becuas ehe thinks that Boby would like to slap her. And even when that is cleared he says he can’t slap her because he loves her. Otherwise it is all okay to slap your wife or any other person for that matter. Although Suri is so ‘liberal’ he basically accepts the fact that his wife is his possession.
        I know it is a sort of a fantasy film. But when the director talks of not being a macho and accepting the right of woman to have sex only when she wants and such things, he could have just put in a sentence or two of saying that nobody has the ight to hit anybody or something like that
        200 pounds of beauty sounds terribly good. It reminds me also of a Kiwi film, whose name I can’t recall. Something like Hannah’s wedding or something.
        The part where Hanna refuses to recognise her father reminds of a similar scene from the opera Le Prophete from Meyerbeer, where the false Prophet has to deny knowing her mother. I think it is an old story having its roots in Peter and his denial of Jesus.

        • Right! I’d forgotten abou that slap comment, and you’re right, a simple stattement put in there would have fixed the problem, lekin, perhaps they were trying to show the level of humanity he lived with? who knows? When you recall the real title of the “Hannah’s Wedding” report back, it sounds great. I do love the stations of the cross, with all the gloom, pageantry, ritual, and emotion, and the part about how Jesus was denied (by Peter), betrayed (Judas) and abandoned is ironically uplifting, since it brings out this idea that being so alone and down and out is the human condition at times. I think a lot of films/stories work to capture that sentiment too, as does RBDJ. VAY! See, all just a good story that we can relate too, that’s all it all is. LOL, “See I think RBDJ is a lot like the stations of the cross because…”

  38. @harvey
    >I wonder if he would have seen God in her, if she weighed 200 kg and had pock marks on her face and ….

    That would make for another film where the roles are reversed.

    She found love/God in an ordinary man, with an ordinary job, and even less then an ordinary personality, why raise the bar higher than this for him? ;-)

    As for ‘killing her former self’ – I don’t think it meant her entire personality including her soul.

    IMO it related to her memories and love for her late lover. In such a case I think the quicker she ‘killed’/got over that the better not only for him but for her as well.

    As for why he didn’t tell her who Raj was, personally I think, he dug himself into a very deep hole, and wasn’t finding a way out of it easily, but he did finally. Objectively it may seem a clear cut thing, but subjectively I think it isn’t that easy.

    In fact, if he had just gone ahead and told her the truth, there would be many saying how unnatural that was.

    I didn’t get the impression that Suri ever felt he was a sacrificial lamb.
    Rather than being in love with himself, I felt he had self respect.

    • Pacifist,
      Regarding your impressions of “killing her former self,” I agree. I believe it’s meant that she will kill the dreams she had harbored, and accept her current situation. The scene when she prepares food for his work friends and acts so graceful was so touching to me, because it illustrated the beauty that can arise from complete surrender, acceptance and letting go. It’s still so touching to me in my memory that I nearly cry writing this, how goofy since it’s a cheesy Chopra flick, but the again they are full of gratuitous sentimentality, so why not? :)

      • I love sentimentality in films (and even otherwise) :-)
        So the film was no problem.

        Regarding the ‘slap’. As far as I remember, when Bobby remarks that one slap would set her right, Suri’s anger flares because he says something like ‘you are talking about slapping my wife?’

        I don’t remember it as ‘You are talking about *you* slapping my wife?’

        There’s a slight difference here. In the first case (which I think it was) Suri is shocked and angered at the suggestion of ‘a’ slap (by him or anyone).

        I may be wrong. I saw it a while ago.
        But even in the second case, anyone would be shocked and angered at a friend suggesting that ‘he’ would slap his friend’s wife. The first reaction to this sort of a suggestion *would* be like – *you* (in the sense, how dare you even talk like that).

        I think there is much ado about nothing, regarding this comment by harvey :-).
        Suri’s reaction was instant and automatic and directly related to what Bobby said. Analysing it comes later.

        • Nice to hear, that slapping your wife is much ado about nothing!

          • No, the much ado about nothing referred to all the questions, who was to slap whom, and what was SRK to get angry about – slapping her himself, or Bobby slapping her. :-)

            The final word on this was that ‘He loved her” and wouldn’t do such a thing.

            Then there were more ados. Would he slap if he didn’t love her, was it right to slap anyone at all, is slapping a wife as bad as slapping a husband, should slapping be banned (Ok I’m joking now :-D).

            For me its a simple matter of Bobby’s suggestion being rejected by Suri because he loved her. Now I wasn’t expecting a lecture here by SRK to Bobby about the evils of slapping – anyone. So it worked for me. I don’t see any reasons for complicating issues.

  39. @ pacifist
    I wish I could have loved the film. My friends did. I envied them.

    “She found love/God in an ordinary man, with an ordinary job, and even less then an ordinary personality, why raise the bar higher than this for him? ;-)”

    :-)
    That is what was endearing in him at the beginning. I thought, wow! This is going to be a special story. I think the real key to this character, is when he,despite Bobby’s pleas to reveal his identity and his dialogue about how people go there, where they find love, remains adamant and says Tanni has to love Suri (or something onthat lines)

    “IMO it related to her memories and love for her late lover. In such a case I think the quicker she ‘killed’/got over that the better not only for him but for her as well.”

    It sounded quite different for my ears. ;-). Funnily (is there such a word?) enough, they never show anything about her previous love. We don’t know, who he was and how he was. We don’t even know anything about Suri for that matter. Other than Bobby he doesn’t have anyone. No relatives, nothing. They practically live in a… vaccum.

    “As for why he didn’t tell her who Raj was, … but subjectively I think it isn’t that easy.”
    That is what I meant. He is in a deep hole and that is where he remains till the end. He shows that he can show his love to her, that he is capable of making her feel she is somebody special. But he prefers not to. Because he is so much in love with himself and his own image of himself.

    “In fact, if he had just gone ahead and told her the truth, there would be many saying how unnatural that was.”

    A director like Adi Chopra would have found ways and means. And not only that, it would have been even very natural. But on the other hand, I wasn’t watching the film for naturalism.

    “Rather than being in love with himself, I felt he had self respect.”
    I personally think that to love somebody else, you should love yourself. Everybody wants to see Rab in somebody else, but Rab is in you and when you see it in yourself, you are able to see it/him/her in somebody else. Being in love with oneself is egoism and that is what Suri embodies.

    What I loved was the phrase from Guru Granth Sahib, which is quoted as they enter the Golden Temple in Amritsar. I can’t remember it now, but would like to listen to it or read it again.

  40. Re slapping: there have been cultural differences…but look how much has changed. Think of Deewana, not so long ago, when an unprotected woman was fair game for rape and it was shocking to marry a young widow.

    BTW, RNBDJ won a prize for the Rose Scene, which was great, but I also loved the computer scene…when Suri stands up with the thumb drive attached ;)

  41. “I don’t see any reasons for complicating issues”

    What I meant was that just a simple sentence to the effect that a wife is not a possession of the husband to be treated that way would have had a much better effect, when we know how big a role model SRK is for youth around the world.

    @ marmie: I like both the scenes as well.

  42. I agree completely with pacifist about the slap—he was indignant at the thought of *anyone* slapping her. He was certainly not the kind of guy to slap anyone. I have a very very very low tolerance for abuse, and it didn’t raise my hackles at all (which is not to say that Harvey’s hackles being raised was wrong, I just didn’t read it that way). I didn’t like the end and Suri’s decision not to reveal himself as Raj, although Octoberzine has a great deal to say on that subject which is very interesting and went a long way towards making me change my mind about it (if you haven’t read her review which I linked to, please do). I don’t think that his reasons for not telling her were about his ego though, but about his insecurities.

    I loved this film, I really did :) Nice to see a discussion about it starting up so long after my original post!

    • I wouldn’t say that Suri is kind of a person to slap anybody, but he approves of it at least subconsciously. And it is not even the question of if Suri is that kind of person. It is more of what kind of message I’m sneding out.
      If the director raises the issue of hitting somebody, I would like to see it handled properly. I would expect from a director of this century with modern sensibilities to put out a clear message and not just “I love her that is why I won’t hit her”. It is too ambigous for me. It puts him at par with Guru Dutt, who makes Kumkum’s character say “What if he hits me, he loves me as well.”
      I’m sorry to raise a ruckus over this. But I’m sensitive about such themes.
      I just can’t say that we have to be grateful, that Adi Chopra doesn’t let Suri hit her.

  43. It is absolutely my favorite Bollywood film. I have introduced so many people to Bollywood with it, and every one of them has loved it. The problem is finding something to follow it up with!

  44. …I was never 100% clear on what would happen if she had chosen Raj, but I really thought Suri was going to permanently “become” Raj in that case… I can’t imagine the character of Suri abandoning the woman he loves and leaving her to suffer a lonely “disgraced” life because of his little game-gone-wrong. I thought Suri was going to “walk away” from his life as Suri.

  45. the movie didn’t make sense at all

    how come she didn’t identify her hubby?
    plus a lot nonsense

    why didn’t suri be so attractive himself if he could do it as raj?

  46. Hi Memsaab,
    I just finished reading your fine review on “Rab Ne Ba De Jodi” and thought of telling you an interesting trivia about the movie, which relates it to another classic from Yash Raj Films made in 1981 named “Silsila”

    Please spare some of your time to read my article on the topic :

    “The Spiritual factor connecting ‘Silsila’ (1981) & ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ (2008).”

    at bobbytalkscinema.com

    Here’s the Link :

    http://bobbytalkscinema.com/recentpost.php?postid=postid011710060910

    Waiting for your views on the same.
    bobby sing

  47. Its an absolutely delightful movie.

    The way SRK brought out the nuances of Suri was brilliant- loved the scene when he makes breakfast for Tani, and puts a rose on the plate, then hesitates and removes it. His delight when Tani hands him his lunchbox, and then when he calls her and asks her out for a movie. He was extremely believable as a simple small town man with his own insecurities and aspirations.

    I have a friend in Delhi who actually dresses exactly like Bobby. And he too gave me some ‘dressing’ tips when I was wooing my lady :) (thankfully i didn’t listen).

    Its hard to believe that this was Anushka’s first movie- she is wonderful. You must check out her latest movie from Yash Raj ‘Band Baja Baraat’, she is coming into her own, and I think you will love that movie. :)

  48. Am coming VERY late to this party – and I don’t want to open up a discussion on old posts – so I’ll keep this brief (as brief as I can keep my comments. ;-)).

    I FINALLY caught this movie last week on a TV channel.

    Loved it, loved the songs, loved Anushka Sharma (hard to believe it was her first film!) – and thought SRK was actually fun because he was so OTT (whether as Suri or Raj). I loved the fact that there was NO violence in the film, NO meanness, NO double entendre, NO sex selling. Just old-fashioned Bollywood entertainment. For how many films of the last 5-6 years can you say this?

    For those who say this movie was not realistic, yes and no. It was unrealistic in its OTT-ness and perhaps in its somewhat strange (but very Bollywoody) twist at the end (suddenly she sees “God” in her husband and does a very convenient volte face?).

    But I found it realistic if you keep aside all this OTT-ness.
    1) A girl loses her fiancee and father, and suddenly finds herself married while very much in mourning. She’s drowning in her own grief and therefore finds herself unable to shower the love that a husband may expect so soon after marriage. Unrealistic?
    2) The husband, a decent guy, recognises her difficulty and gives her her space. And this, while he loves her to bits and would dearly love to be loved back. Unrealistic expectations?
    3) The husband isn’t the flashy or street-smart type, he’s a simpleton. All he wants is for his wife to love him back (if that’s possible). His insecurity about his “Suri” character drives him to that makeover as Raj, who he thinks has all it takes to woo a girl. Unrealistic to think this way?
    4) His wife finds Raj’s overtures repulsive initially but gradually begins to get attracted to them. Especially since Suri, inspite of being a “nice guy”, hardly makes her laugh. What’s so unrealistic about this? If I were Anushka, I’d probably feel the same way too. ;-)
    5) Suri is shocked and broken. But his self-confidence (already very low) is now so battered that he begins to think that if Taani really cannot love him for who he is (as Suri), she’s probably better off without him. Yes, I know this sounds like “sacrificing” but when somebody has such a low opinion of himself (as Suri surely has) and loves another person SO much (as Suri clearly does), this is not an unrealistic mindset at all IMO. Maybe not desirable. But certainly not unrealistic.
    6) Taani SUDDENLY realises the goodness of her husband (she sees “God” in him) and does a complete volte face, ditching Raj and going back to Suri. Yes, THIS was the bit I found was hastily put together – it completely lacked credibility. THIS I will agree was a bit unrealistic.

    But hey, I’ve seen much much worse. :-) And if we’re going to rate Bollywood movies on their “realism” factor, I have a feeling most movies will not make the cut at all. :-) Suspended disbelief, that too in abundant measure, is a must-have while watching a Bollywood movie, so let’s not be too harsh on RNBDJ.

    Ok, so that’s my “brief” comment on this movie. -) Sorry if it’s longer than the longest comment here – now you know why I am hopeless at Twitter. ;-)

    • RNBDJ = Best Bollywood movie ever.

      Disagree #6 unrealistic from a feminine perspective. ;)

      Absolutely agree with your comments “Loved it, loved the songs, loved Anushka Sharma…thought SRK was actually fun because he was so OTT (whether as Suri or Raj). I loved the fact that there was NO violence in the film, NO meanness, NO double entendre, NO sex selling. Just old-fashioned Bollywood entertainment. For how many films of the last 5-6 years can you say this? “

  49. Ugh! I hated this film; (I liked Suri). Because the whole premise was so bad. There Suri goes saying “She has to love me for ME or not at all!'” And then, he has to change into Raj for her to fall in love ?? And his Raj was so OTT that I wanted to smack him! Anoushka was the best thing about the movie. Aditya Chopra should really stop writing scripts / directing movies. He and Karan were the worst things that happened to Shahrukh Khan.

    • You know, I watched this again recently, also with my sister again, and we both didn’t like it nearly as much as we had the first time. Don’t know what was different for us but there you go…I didn’t HATE it, but I didn’t like it as much as I had the first time.

  50. Same here,I hate shahrukh in “Rab ne banaa di ghodi”oops sorry,”jodi”.
    I like shahrukh of Swades,even in Paheli,Chak de India,Asoka.

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