In spite of some charming performances this sweet film leaves us unsatisfied.
Big fat noisy glittery Indian weddings are the perfect occasion for a family movie. From Yash Raj Films to Suraj Barjatya have generously milked the idea of movies made around marriages. I don’t know why but our so-called urban Gujarati films hadn’t touched this idea so far. Amit Barot’s refreshing ‘Subh Aarambh’ breaks this Gujju NRI wedding drought. How is the marriage, let’s find out.
Chat Mangani, Pat Shaadi
Anupam (Harsh Chhaya) and Manasvi Mehta (Prachee Shah Pandya) is an America based NRI couple. During a marriage season, they land in Ahmedabad. Their sole purpose is to find a suitable girl for their architect son Shubh (Bharat Chawda). They come to know about Riddhima (Deeksha Joshi) through the typical matchmaking channel of relatives. Riddhima is a professional marriage counselor. A ‘ladki dekho’ meeting is fixed, potential bride & groom meet and everything clicks. Now it’s time for ‘chat mangani, pat shaadi’, right? Yes, but no. One family has deep dark secret inside their closet. Will it affect the marriage?
Less Band, Baaja, More Baatchit
Right from the beginning, Shubh Aarambh shows us picture perfect traditional Indian families. Bhaiyaa- Bhabhis, uncle-aunties, enthusiastic children, mother-father, papa ki pari type daughters, nosy neighbors… a whole shade-card for Barjatya clan movies is here. Together they talk, laugh, hug, sing, dance, eat. All are diabetes infusing sweet. These scenes are heart-warming. Scenes, where families of bride-groom meet and simultaneously discuss the potential marriage are beautifully done. In short, the first act is nicely set. The problem occurs after that.
Once the stage is set for the conflict, nothing much happens to resolve it. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s delightful family drama ‘Bawarchi’ showed us how one family had trivial issues and one man enters into their lives and fixes everything. I wanted to see the same kind of magic here, by interesting sequences, not by just plain talk. This family, too, has a problem. The character of Riddhima is supposed to solve it. She herself promises to do so as well. But she doesn’t do much except one little gesture.
There’s a basic rule in cinema, ‘show, don’t tell.’ When you have the movie camera, you should show things happen, rather than waste time on saying everything. Director Amit Barot doesn’t seem to believe in this thought. Thus the characters speak their feelings too. For example, the father of the bride is sad that his darling daughter will soon get married and leave their house forever. He talks about all his feelings for their daughter to his wife. Both weeps. All just beside their sleeping daughter! The daughter doesn’t wake up. Instead, they could have shown a montage describing father-daughter love. A drop of tear from sleeping daughter’s eyes could have added one more subtle layer to the melodramatic scene. But scene fades out with closed eyes of the daughter.
Vipul Sharma’s story and theater actor cum writer Abhinay Banker’s dialogues are touching, but it feels like you are watching a stage play. Everyone just talks and talks, in all scenes. Long emotionally, poetically, philosophically charged lines. And yes, there’s poetry in the film. Harsh Chhaya’s character is a Gujarati poet. He recites poems on every occasion, at the rishta meeting, during a husband-wife conversation, in his memories, on sangeet sandhya. Even dialogues are straight out of motivational books. Sample these, ‘you build houses, I’ll show you to make a home’, ‘time is like sand in fist’, ‘it takes sunlight to grow a plant just like water and fertilizer’, ‘we don’t cut trees in fall season’… There are many more like these scattered in the whole movie. If such emotionally mushy dialogues are your game, you’ll hit a goldmine! And just like a stage play, every character speaks so slowly with long pauses. You start fearing are they going to finish the movie in a sequel or what? Long splitting shots of the city and sponsors’ brands slow already slow movie.
Harsh Chhaya is the main glue who holds this otherwise loose film with a wafer-thin story. His amazing screen presence and his baritone voice fill every frame he is in. He can make you cry even with his eyes only. Without any effort, he shows love, joy, frustration, sadness on his face. You want more and more of him in the movie. I wish he keeps continue working in Gujarati movies.
We have been seeing Prachee Shah for her acts in ‘Ekta Kapoor era’ TV serials like ‘Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. She has the same charm on her face but looks uncomfortable in Gujarati dialogues.
‘Dhula’ of ‘Chhello Divas’ Aarjav Trivedi is here too, in his new found slim-trim avatar. He has hit all the right notes with his superb comic timing and amazing ‘Amdavadi’ dialect. But the real discovery of the film is Sanjay Galsar as Imran. He’s pitch perfect in his typical Muslim Gujarati-Hindi-Urdu mix dialect. Both Aarjav and Sanjay have stolen all the laughter in the movie. I’m sure you would come out of theater saying ‘done haiga’! This duo has more chemistry between them than the lead pair Bharat-Deeksha. Bharat looks handsome, but practically has nothing to do in the film. He remains invisible in the movie for a long time. Deeksha, too, doesn’t have a meatier role to play.
A movie which has a marriage in the central theme must have strong music. Except for soothing ‘Geet Gulabi’ and title track ‘Shubh aarambh ho’ are nice to hear, but never lift the movie. We hear voices of Divya Kumar, Swanand Kirkire, Kirtidan Gadhvi, but still, songs just come and go without leaving any impact on us.
Want to attend the marriage?
‘Shubh Aarambh’ is a perfect time-pass movie to watch when the whole family is in the house. It has the heart in its place, touches your emotional cord but never satisfies you. As I said earlier, there aren’t many incidents in the film, conflict arises and resolves automatically. Right from the first mention of the main conflict, you know things will fall into its place and how. This is the marriage between poetry weds motivation in a simple ceremony.
Rating: **1/2 (Two and a half stars)
(Published in DeshGujarat.Com)
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