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Monday, January 5, 2009

Vivah and Ek Vivah

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Sooraj Barjatya of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun fame have given us Vivah two years ago, and encouraged by its success, Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi this year (what’s with different spelling?). Unlike popular verdict of people of my generation, I absolutely loved the first film and liked the second one. That my taste differed from others is no news, for I cannot understand what made Dhoom 2 super hit or Tango Charlie flop. I fell asleep watching Lord of the Rings — and didn’t like it when I forced myself to watch all three — and loved Harry Potter series (of books). Actually, we are all different yet same in the sense that each in our own mind can cite many examples where he cannot align his preferences with rest of the world in case of movies. This post is about Vivah and why I liked it.

To start with, lets stop the misinformation that these movies are regressive or conservative. They are what India actually is, beyond its glitter of night and under IT savvy facade. At least 95% of India is traditional in the sense that social mores, rituals and customs depicted in the movies are what actually happens on ground.

People have shown their disappointment with flawless characterization of hero and heroine and found saccharine sweetness unpalatable. That people didn’t like a girl who is obedient, shy, soft spoken, and virtuous; and a boy who is caring, patient, virtuous and generous; is signal about not just movie's characters. Cynicism in the world, also known as reality, has blinded our eyes so much that a breath of freshness and purity appears out of place and unacceptable. That we cannot believe that such nice people can exist is sad commentary on ourselves and our society. It is true that these types of character are rare but they are not impossible to find too. We must keep in mind that movies are after all fictional stories and with that perspective these are not unpalatable characters. Just like there can exists curel Gabbar Singh, so can Poonam and Prem.

What is more appealing to me is the use of Hindi in Hindi movie. It’s a pleasure to aural senses to hear people talking in everyday Hindi without sprinkling it with Hinglish, something practically every movie has abandoned. There was a time when opening credits would write movie title in Hindi first and then in English and Urdu. These days you see titles in English only, except in Vivah.

The best part about these movies, of course, is the music. Music has not appealed to public attuned to beats of rap, metal, bhagra and Hinglish lyrics. I find music in these two movies astonishingly refreshing. In day and age where “race saanson ki” and “just chill” are popular numbers, lyrics which actually make senses are like oasis in desert. In these movies, there are songs for almost any occasion. They have more songs in movie than they release in soundtracks and all are perfect for the context with beautiful lyrics. Sweet uneasy sensation of “do anjaane ajnabi” is plausible and so is sisterly teasing in “o jiji”. Where are relationships (other than that of lovers) celebrated in recent movies so respectfully and pleasantly? And who else is composing original lovable devotional music these days?

At some level it is disappointing to see these movies not make more money, because then even likes of Barjatya will understand that public doesn’t want decency and morality in media. It is one thing to complain about falling standards of ethics, which we all do, and it’s another thing to act on it, which we don’t do. Just like in politics and reality television, we will get what we want, not what we claim we want. If nothing else, these are good movies to reminisce for few hours the purity of human heart and greatness of family.

(This post also made me realize why shouldn’t I attempt writing a movie review. I would have expected from myself intelligent commentary, screen caps, discussion about specifics rather than broad overview, etc.)