Prem Ratan Dhan Payo ** ½
Dir: Sooraj R. Barjatya
Starring: Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh,
Anupam Kher, Armaan Kohli
Salman Khan reunites with his very first director in Main Ne Pyar Kiya and the man behind the diabetes inducing Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun and Hum Saath Saath Hain, Sooraj R. Barjatya for Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. The plot of the movie – a look-alike commoner fills in for kidnapped prince – borrows liberally from Anthony Hope’s novel The Prisoner Of Zenda, previously already adapted by Hollywood at least half a dozen times, going all the way back to 1913. But whereas the novel and the earlier adaptations put as much emphasis (if not more) on the action and the political intrigues as on the romance, Barjatya focus is firmly on the amorous activities (of the virginal variety, of course – this is a Rajshri production after all) of the titular hero (Salman Khan, of course) as he charms the kidnapped prince’s affianced princess (Sonam Kapoor) while trying to bring his estranged half-sisters back into the fold. This is where Barjatya’s favourite tropes come into play, particularly the importance of family bonds and family values.
Barjatya’s also borrowed a couple of tricks from Sanjay Leela Bhansali school of filmmaking by throwing in lots of spectacular sets and grand vistas and colourful costumes at us (the climactic action takes place in a hall of mirrors in a palace overlooking a waterfall). A Barjatya / Bhansali combo sounds like the very worst confection (neither director is to my taste) possible. However, surprisingly, despite the old-fashioned nature of the movie and despite the predictable cheesy scene or two (one terribly silly sequence involves a football match between the sexes initiated by the faux prince) the movie manages to trot along amiably enough. Chopping off around 20 minutes or so of the film would have been easy enough but leading man, Salman Khan, thankfully, manages to reign in his mugging tendencies and is likable enough. Sonam is lissom and puts in an adequate enough effort. Neil Nitin Mukesh as the prince’s half-brother is wasted and that is reflective of one of the weaknesses of the movie that it doesn’t develop the minor characters enough. The soundtrack (by Himesh Reshamiyya) isn’t particularly memorable but does contain a couple of semi-hummable tunes, including the title track.
I can’t really recommend this movie but Salman fans will probably like it. I’m going with a generous rating on this one because it didn’t turn out to be as painful as I had feared.
Cut to chase: Not as painful as some of Salman’s movies.
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