Film- Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Kriti Kharbanda, Vipin Sharma, Govind Namdev
Director: Ratnaa Sinha
‘Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana’ gives company to a slew of recent Bollywood films set in the Hindi heartland, shuttling between Kanpur and New Delhi. However, this effort by debutant Ratnaa Sinha carves a place for itself with a rooted take on love, ambition, family and the age-old concept of arranged marriages.
In its essence, the Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Kharbanda flick is a love story well-told, mostly managing to rise above clichés in favour of a fairly tightly-knit narrative.
Shaadi mein begins breezily, wasting no time in getting to the heart of the matter and a meeting between Satydendra ‘Sattu’ Mishra and Aarti Shukla (Rao and Kharbanda).
The duo agrees that a decision on marriage is not taken in ‘30 minutes’ but end up doing precisely that, aside from being agreeable on most things and while falling for each other too. While Satyendra is boyish and eager with his questionable English pronunciation, Kharbanda’s Aarti makes it clear that she would want to work after the saat phere.
This is where the conflict comes in. The middle-class Mishra and Shukla families meet, where an agreement over dowry is reached with Govind Namdev, the stern Shukla patriarch, bowing down to his samdhis demands. Rao and Kharbandha’s characters are seemingly oblivious to it all; their ‘love story’ builds in the backdrop.
The peace, however, is breached on the day of the wedding. In a conversation with Aarti’s future mother-in-law, her sister finds out that bahusin the Mishra family don’t work post-marriage. Roughly an hour prior to the wedding, it dawns on Aarti that she has cleared the provincial civil services examination and that her to-be saas would not be too keen on her career.
Predictably, she’s runs off and we’re taken five years into the future. Now, Aarti is a government servant doing well for herself when she is embroiled in a corruption case. As fate would have it, ‘Sattu’ is back (more successful than her), and in-charge of the ongoing probe against her.
Rao’s character takes a turn as he is enraged with the humiliation suffered by his family, belittling and embarrassing Aarti at every turn. It is at this time that Sinha’s first directorial effort starts to fall flat a bit--when it leans more on Kharbanda to force the issue.
That said however, Kharbanda does hold her own in scenes with Rao, who is effortlessly endearing and sails through his role. Shaadi mein is also blessed with some well crafted characters that bring much-needed nuance into proceedings.
The music is not the film’s strongest suit and the climax twist has been pulled off in another recent flick and seems hurried. Despite its later shortcomings, the film doesn’t get much wrong in the first half and understands small-town intricacies of language and insecurities well.
This is one wedding date that could be marked on the calendar.