Ram (Girish Kumar), a spoiled rich kid from Australia, comes to India for his cousin’s wedding. There, he meets the innocent Sona (Shruti Haasan), a girl who has only her overprotective, farmer brother (Sonu Sood) to call her own. You can probably guess the rest of the story, as it borrows from several classics throughout the years (and is a remake of Prabhudheva‘s own Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana): the two polar opposites fall in love amidst a wedding setting, but their class divide creates obstacles that threaten to keep them apart. They must, therefore, attempt to overcome it all in order to be together.
Old wine in a new bottle is not necessarily a bad thing, but how does Ramaiya Vastavaiya stack up?
I’m predisposed to wanting to like a film like this because it’s very reminiscent of the kind of Bollywood I’ve grown up on (read: Rajshri-style films). The first half has a Hum Aapke Hai Kaun feel with the wedding setting, and the second half is purely Maine Pyar Kiya. Unfortunately, what stuck out first was déjà vu of another Barjatya-directed film, the only one of the lot that I haven’t liked: Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon. Much as we’d like to forget it, I think we can all remember Hrithik Roshan‘s OTT acting from MPKDH, and that’s the kind of melodrama you’ll see throughout Ramaiya Vastavaiya. Some of the dramatics will test your gag reflex, and the rest will have you worrying about your eyes rolling so far back, that they might get stuck.
The film is also formulaic to the core: the “opposites attract” theory, class divides, parental objections, the “love trumps all” theme… it’s all there. If just these tired themes make you cringe, then this is not a film for you. However, if you’re not averse to this type of cinema, then you will find that the film has its moments. There are scenes that will make you laugh despite yourself, such as when the clumsy maid keeps dropping whatever she’s holding, or the sidekick (Bijlee) says some astoundingly silly thing. And then, if you’re a sucker – like I am – you will find yourself unwittingly smiling at parts. It helps that the melodrama is not that hard to digest in the second half… or maybe you just get used to it after a point.
The soundtrack (Sachin-Jigar) is easy on the ears, with my favourite song being Rang Jo Lagyo, which I also thought was shot very well. The performances vary – there was a lot of OTT acting happening, especially by the supporting actors (villains, most of them). Girish Kumar, in particular, is extremely bouncy in the first half, but he has an endearing quality about him, and he grew on me as the film progressed. Shruti Haasan looked the part and had an air of vulnerability around her that helped her performance. Sonu Sood was decent, and his restrained acting was a welcome breather. Vinod Khanna was good, while Satish Shah, Randhir Kapoor and Poonam Dhillon didn’t have roles meaty enough to justify their talent.
Approach cautiously. If you don’t appreciate Bollywood clichés, then you’re better off avoiding this one. However, if you’re a fan of 90s “love conquers all” stories and don’t mind the extra dose of mush, then Ramaiya Vastavaiya may be the escape you need to clear your head after a hectic week.