Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008)

Another old one from my archive that I love a lot. Reading it again I feel it is too wordy, but yet I couldn’t excise any word because that is how much I love the movie. I show my love through words. The review is actually two-fold because I had different thoughts after both times I have seen it.

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Surinder (Shah Rukh Khan) is a middle-aged man. He is nerdy, a geek and works for Punjab Power. He is at his old professor’s daughter Taani’s (Anushka Sharma) wedding. One look at her and he is in love. He speaks internally that he wishes to marry her. Bad news soon descends into the wedding proceedings – the groom and his entire family have died in a terrible accident. Taani’s father has a heart attack. On his death bed, he implores Suri to marry her daughter. The dad then persuades Taani to accept. He does not force her. He says that some marriages are based on love but some are centered on God. This marriage will be the latter. Taani accepts so that her dad can leave with no burdens. One night, after an impromptu party when Suri’s colleagues insisted upon so as to see his new wife, Taani finally spoke her heart to Suri when nobody else is around. She apologizes for being an awful wife. She reassures Suri that her decision to marry him was sincere but to give her time to ‘change’ to another Taani because she has to let the old one die. She also says that she will never be able to give him love because she has none to give… All these happened in the first 20min!

That’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi‘s brilliant story premise. I must first of all mention that my review will be skewed towards the positive side because I see myself in Suri – a shy man who is at a loss for words in front of the girl he loves. In Suri I see my old self – lots of love to give but totally useless in front of the girl of my dreams. So I am going to be happily biased and do take my review with a chunk of salt.

The movie then proceeds with a showing of small deeds, fleeting gazes, knowing nods and short exchanges. The showing of love exists in small things. Suri then invents an alter-ego Raj Kapoor to be with Taani in a dancing class. Taani doesn’t recognize him and he proceeds to show her a side of herself that she wants suppressed.

I can see the main reason that some people will just brush this whole case of mistaken identity off but I bought into the story because of a simple reason. Suri says God has started writing his love story and He has ‘blinded’ Taani to see who is truly under that alter-ego. I bought it! It is also because in the 20th min I was already emotionally invested in these 2 persons. I wanted to write their ending. It also helps that SRK plays both characters diabolically differently and with finesse. I didn’t get that dreaded cold cringing shiver. I also love the nuanced performance by Anushka Sharma. I couldn’t believe it’s her maiden acting role. In several scenes I could feel her pain and the range she has shown was excellent. SRK was 43 when he acted here. That’s no big deal – he continually gets cast as a young dude in Bollywood. What’s shocking is that Anushka Sharma was 19 while filming this! Her performance is so nuanced you won’t even notice how young she was.

The film offers up many subtexts like if Suri and Raj is the same person, and if Taani falls in love with Raj, is she being unfaithful? It explores the meaning of identity – what defines a person? It studies the eternal question – what is true love? How do you show love? One of my favourite scenes occurs in 2 changing rooms. Raj asks Taani what do woman want? The answer that Taani gives from next door was poignant and absolutely spot-on. I learned a great lesson that I have seared into my brain. What did she say? Sorry, you will have to watch the movie to find out.

Up until the 2-hour mark JNBDJ is one perfect movie. At that point, so late in the game, the writer/director made Suri battled a sumo wrestler. That scene went against the vein of the characters and it was excruciatingly long. Why would Suri do something so extreme to try to impress Taani? Incredulous. If I were to do it, I would have made Suri display his love for Taani in small doses throughout the film, not one big nonsensical display.

Other than the sumo wrestling sequence, JNBDJ got all the emotional beats right. It is a foregone conclusion who will win the final dance competition but the film continues to turn up surprises that I didn’t see coming. It also has some inspired lines about true love. There is a moment when a perfect day spent with Taani cumulates to an awesome night scene where I finally understood why Suri needs to work for Punjab Power and after the ultimate cinematic display of love by Raj, Taani utters… “When a girl begins to dream with open eyes then her whole world changes. Nothing remains the same after that.” The story then goes on a higher level where Taani and Suri (and I) finally understand why there’s pain in true love.

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I absolutely adore Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. It made my heart soar to the high heavens and I know another meaning of true love. Get ready, hang on to your seat, here it comes… True love is… seeing God in your significant other. There, I said it. Today was a perfect day and I want to end it with a perfect movie. So I watch RNBDJ again but there was no déjà vu feeling for me. It felt like I was watching it for the first time. So glad my wife reminded me about the movie because she has not seen it. We originally wanted to stop at the intermission. Thank God we were weak and 2hr 40min breezed by. Seeing her laugh and cry through some passages of the movie brings me much joy.

The second time seeing the movie made me see the beautiful juxtapositions – she is downstairs, he is upstairs, Suri is small in his actions, Raj is big in everything. To Suri, love is a childish yellow tiffin container. To Raj, love is total abandonment. The movie is about making choices through God. I didn’t say it is the right choice. If it is made with His blessing, you are on the right path. I love the God metaphor planted strategically in the course of the film. It was clearer and more pronounced the second time. Tonight I realize that we cannot see God explicitly in the flesh and the movie suggests that by loving the person/s in our lives, we see Him. I definitely believe that. Sorry for being preachy; I can’t help it.

The next one is my favourite song and dance number. The lyrics is not frivolous and filled with so many beautiful metaphors of yearning and love. If you listen to this on the Blu-ray, you will be astounded by the 5.1 surround mix.

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