The staging of lavish weddings is a standard film cliché in Bollywood and 2010 mega hit Band Baaja Baaraat (Wedding Band Music) is Maneesh Sharma’s directorial debut on that theme, which follows two disparate characters working together as wedding organisers in Delhi.
Bittoo Sharma (Ranveer Singh) and Shruti Kakkar (Anushka Sharma) are students at Delhi University; he is an aimless slacker, whose father expects him to work in his rural village, while she aspires to set up a wedding planner business after graduation.
To avoid his fate, Bittoo lies to his father about going into business with Shruti and begs to become a partner in her company, Shaadi Mubarak. She reluctantly agrees and stipulates they never mix business with pleasure but, when the inevitable romance happens, the pair have to contend with the impact it has on their professional partnership.
Produced by Yash Raj Films, Band Baaja Baaraat is immensely colourful and exuberant, with a first class soundtrack provided by brothers Salim and Sulaiman Merchant.
The first hour of Band Baaja Baaraat has a fun, fresh youthfulness, but post intermission the film slumps and the screenplay falters. Bittoo and Shruti become annoying caricatures of their previous personas and act like petulant, squabbling children.
In one scene, the protagonists are shown arguing after a drunken one night stand and their business venture suffers as a consequence. In front of a large crowd, Bittoo stomps melodramatically on a picture frame and Shruti responds: “You dog! Why did you come into my life and ruin it?”
Sadly, the director’s lack of experience renders him unable to maintain the momentum of Band Baaja Baaraat’s first half and numerous instances of clumsy dialogue writing drag down what starts out as a promising film.
For example, Shruti forces Bittoo to swear that he will not bring “emotional complications” into their professional partnership and, when he tries to flirt with her, Shruti retorts: “Don’t even try it. I don’t have time for love and rubbish like that.” Despite being projected as the “brains” of Shaadi Mubarak, Shruti falls for loveable rogue Bittoo when he defends her honour in an argument.
Arguably a “liberated” young woman, Shruti still depends on Bittoo to rescue her in times of crisis and, after spending the night with him, suddenly adopts a more “housewife” persona.
Both characters could have been interesting and memorable, but, in a screenplay bursting with clichés, relative newcomers Singh and Sharma fail to elevate the weak script to great heights, despite sharing obvious onscreen chemistry.
This intimacy is not evident in the unconvincing and awkward bedroom scene, however, which nonetheless elicited a shocked reaction from some critics and cinemagoers, who objected to the depiction of premarital sex.
One character worthy of praise is Rajinder, Shaadi Mubarak’s endearing Sikh caterer. Hilariously portrayed by Punjabi comic actor Manmeet Singh, he stands out from the film’s supporting cast and shows real promise.
In conclusion, Band Baaja Baaraat is a rather slapdash effort from India’s most revered film studio and only teenagers or diehard fans of the leads would be the ideal target audience!