Produced by the Aditya Chopra and Yash Raj that brought you films like Salaam Namaste, Dil Bole Hadippa, and Mujhse Dosti Karogi, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan is not going to win any Oscars or even any Filmfare Awards but it is a solid entertainer in the finest Yash Raj tradition, relying on a great soundtrack and the tremendous charms of Katrina Kaif and Ali Zafar to smooth over any plot holes.
Ali Zafar is smarmy London-based Luv and Imran Khan is his Mumbai based younger brother Kush. When Luv breaks up with his long term girlfriend Piyali (Tara D'Souza), he asks Kush to set him up in an arranged marriage because if Kush likes a girl then Luv will, too. (After all, he explains, they both loved Madhuri Dixit as kids.) Kush respects his "Bhaiysaab" and agrees to help in the process of looking for a wife. After checking out a series of duds, he meets Dimple (Katrina Kaif), a free spirited girl who is ready to settle down. He falls for her instantly, so he knows that Luv will love her, too. It's a match! Or is it?!
Does Dimple really prefer Kush and is Luv really over Piyali? These questions are answered in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan... but don't come looking for anything more, story wise. I fully admit that the story is kind of dumb, the script has plot holes big enough for Tsunami to wander in from Bodyguard* over across the hall, and the dialogues are uninspired, but, despite all that, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan has a real charm to it. This is not a Band Baaja Baarat but it's far from the self-indulgent wank of Pyaar Impossible. We're more in Salaam Namaste territory here, including the overly talented backup guy.
Let me start with the bad, just to get it out of the way, since I did genuinely enjoy the film and want to leave you with a good taste for it.
Director, screenwriter, etc. Ali Abbas Zafar needs to hire out another screenwriter. The story was very clunky with plot development happening seemingly at random. Another flaw in the script was the over-reliance on film references. Amar Akbhar Anthony, Padosan, and Caravan are just a few of the films referenced and it quickly grew a bit tiresome and seemed more than a bit dated. Om Shanti Om already happened... and back in 2007 at that!
The direction was okay for most of the film but there were definitely some really amateurish shots sprinkled here and there. The opening scene is terribly blocked; a song taking place on a flat bed truck gives the actors noticeable hair difficulties; and continuity is really lax. Katrina had her lips done at some point during filming and they appear to go fuller and thinner at random intervals throughout the film.
And now the good. There are quite a few things that really work well in this film.
First of all, the performances from everybody are very solid. Katrina was luminous and really owned the screen whenever she was on it. As the free spirited Dimple, she stayed on the correct side of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl line, never veering off into magical wish fulfillment land. Dimple is goofy but she is also her own person. One gets the sense that Dimple would have been just fine even if the romance hadn't worked out and she'll continue to be just fine now that it has.
Imran was decent as the somewhat dorky Kush. He never really builds a character for Kush but his typical "chocolate boy" persona works just fine in the role.
Ali Zafar was phenomenal and stole almost every scene he was in. Ali was a typhoon of charisma and the camera just loved him. Ali played Luv with a healthy serving of smarm, as if Luv didn't think he was cool, Luv knew he was cool. Ali was all eyebrow raises and bedroom eyes towards Dimple and employed humorous brotherly expressions with Kush. And Ali knows how to emote. He also paired quite well with Katrina and I would love to see the two of them together again.
The music added a lot to the film and people who enjoy picturizations will be happy to find out that the film is packed with songs. There are both regular lipsynced picturizations and two-three montages. The songs were were well placed in the timing of the film and the montages did wonders to move the plot along.
Other things that worked were the small comedy moments. Katrina, Imran, and Ali all have a nice sense of comic timing and the three generated a lot of laughs. One in particular that got a huge belly laugh from my audience was a scene in which Katrina is crouched down crying because she thinks Imran is dead. Imran is wrapped in a blanket and she has placed a white handkerchief over his face. She continues to cry as Imran groggily gets up and his confused body language and her overly dramatic tears are one of the funniest scenes in the film.
Overall, I did really enjoy the film. I loved Katrina's character. She wasn't just some heroine relegated to the sidelines; in a lot of ways she acted like the hero - to the extent of having a Salman Khan style introduction song where she *small spoiler* throws herself a rock concert and then gets arrested for it. But Dimple is more than a rocker chick and Katrina handles the vulnerable scenes with aplomb. No dead fish eyes here! I already sang Ali Zafar's praises but I'll do it again, the man has charm out the wazoo. So, while I wouldn't recommend this to anybody looking for an artistic masterpiece - or to those annoyed by romantic shenanigans of deception - I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys the female-driven, light-hearted romance of movies like Dil Bole Hadippa.**
*Hat tip to The Bollywood Fan for that metaphor.
** And Katrina is definitely on her way to being the next Madhuri or Juhi Chawla. She carried large chunks of the this movie while Imran (sometimes literally) sleptwalked through it.