I already put up my No Spoilers review, which should answer the question “should I see this movie?” for you. This review is for “I don’t want to see this movie but I am mildly curious what it is about” or “I have just seen this movie and I’m not sure what to think about it” kind of people.
Okay! Whole plot straightened out and explained in two paragraphs:
There are 4 siblings, oldest sister Ratna Pathak who raised her brothers, oldest brother Pavan Malhotra, middle brother Sanjay Kapoor, and baby brother Anil Kapoor. Sanjay and his wife die and their identical twin sons and given to Anil Kapoor, who promptly hands the oldest Arjun 1 to be raised in England by Ratna Pathak and her husband, and the younger Arjun 2 to be raised in Chandigarh by Pavan Malhotra and his wife. 27 years later, Arjun 1 in London is in love with Ileana D’Cruz but scared to tell his fierce mother Ratna that he has fallen in love (especially after Ileana accidentally insults her, not knowing she is Arjun 1’s mother). Arjun 2 is in Chandigarh and in love with Neha Sharma, but scared to tell his fierce father Pavan Malhotra (especially considering Neha Sharma’s character is Muslim). Arjun 1 follows Ileana to Chandigarh when she comes home after school and starts working at Pavan’s restaurant and living in that family home. He tricks Arjun 2 into being sent to London to be engaged to Athiya Shetty, the family friend of the London family who he has been intended for his whole life. Arjun 2 arrives in London and explains to Anil, his cool young uncle, that he doesn’t want to be engaged because he has a girlfriend back in the Punjab. Anil manages to blow up the engagement by making Arjun appear to be a drug addict. But it gets out of hand when Pavan takes offense at the implication his son is a drug addict and Ratna tries to calm him down and sides with Athiya Shetty’s family, and brother and sister fall out. Pavan takes Arjun 2 back to the Punjab and quickly finds him a new bride, to prove that he can marry even better than the London girl who turned him down, and of course that bride turns out to be Ileana!
Meanwhile, Arjun 1’s engagement to Athiya is now settled. Anil tries to help by arranging for both weddings to take place in London so at least everyone is in one place. He proposes a series of schemes, starting with getting Athiya to call of the wedding herself. But that fails because Athiya says it isn’t her problem, she will have faith in God and let it work itself out. Arjun 2 decides he agrees with this philosophy, and he isn’t helping Arjun 1 and Ileana any more either. So Arjun 1 brings Neha Sharma to London to confront him and get him back on board with breaking the engagements. The two couples plan to elope, but as they are leaving, Athiya’s family arrives and insists on making Neha their guest instead of her going back to a hotel (the cover story for the elopement). The night before the wedding, they are all planning to elope, Ileana with Arjun 1, and Arjun 2 with Athiya (who he has realized he loves and vice versa), and Neha Sharma with Athiya’s brother (who she is now in love with). But Anil Kapoor arrives and stops it. He had a vision of his dead brother Sanjay, reminding him of how heartbroken everyone would be if they were publicly shamed and disrespected by an elopement. So he no longer supports it, and he insists that they show up for the wedding the next day. Finally, as a last minute plan, the two brothers/cousins come up the idea of trading places for the marriage ceremony. Which just causes more confusion, because at the wedding hall the truth comes out, and Anil convinces Ratna and Pawan to forgive each other, and to understand what their children want. So the two Arjuns have to come up with an excuse to go off into another room and change clothes again, then come out and get married. HAPPY ENDING.
So, okay, this isn’t a totally uninteresting plot. For one thing, the mixing of the family relationships is handled very well. Because Arjuns 1 and 2 are technically sons of a beloved dead brother, as well as adoptive children, there is an extra closeness and love between the various households related to them. The engagements cannot be finalized without all the adults of the previous generation, Pawan and Anil and Ratna, all present. And neither can the marriages or the engagement ceremonies.
Also handled well is the idea of brothers who call each other brother, but were raised in different households. We can see the similarity in personalities under the skin, while Arjun 1 may act all cool and modern, he is just as scared of admitting his love story to his parents as Arjun 2 is. And while Arjun 2 may appear all shy and traditional, he is just as capable of finding a girlfriend as Arjun 1.
The whole international part of it is really fascinating. We jump 6 months and go from Arjun 1 and Ileana being all cool in London to both of them living in Chandigarh. And there is no culture shock sequence. London is like Chandigarh and Chandigarh is like London. And especially for the Arjuns who were raised in one place but are equally tied to the other (since half their remaining closest relatives live there). In the same way, the second half of the film takes place almost entirely in London, and there is never a moment of somebody seeming lost or asking where all the cows are or anything. It’s something that could have easily been used for comedy and they just didn’t think it was believable any more, even in this totally ridiculous comedy. Although they did have a bit of a nod in that direction with the white servant of Anil Kapoor who he has taught to speak Punjabi. But even there, it was an aware nod, pointing out that this is a ridiculous way to handle a combined cultural identity.
Oh, and the Sikh identity is neat too. When we learn that Neha Sharma is Muslim, almost the first thing Arjun 2 does is clarify that it isn’t her being Muslim in particular that is the problem, it’s that she isn’t from the exact same community as his family. It’s not an anti-Muslim thing, it’s a pro-Sikh thing. That’s the line they draw through out, as I said in the podcast, comedy comes from specificity. So they picked a specific community to use, and that’s all there is to it. Neha Sharma still gets to marry a Sikh (although not Anil Kapoor as I thought might be possible for a moment, she wasn’t that lucky), so this movie isn’t against interreligious marriages. It just thought it would be funny to have all the double takes about our “good boy” falling for the most rebellions option possible. And then falling for the arranged marriage “good girl” after all.
Speaking of that good girl, let’s talk about performances for a moment. Anil was brilliant (duh). Ratna was good, I’ve seen her in parts that fit her better, but she was good. Pawan was really good. Arjun was……okay. As the start of our late summer string of double roles, he kind of set the bar. And I don’t see the others having a hard time crossing it. Even Siddharth. Although Siddharth’s script looks better too (based only on trailers). But really, Arjun just didn’t do as much as he could have with these characters and this role. You want to go big big BIG in every way, so we can really see the difference between them, and he just didn’t. Ileana, on the other hand, really got it. And so did Neha Sharma! Which surprised me, but I guess she has been around for awhile now, makes sense she will have learned something.
Over all thought, this was a “not as good as it needed to be” movie. The music was good, but not good enough to save the film. Some of the acting was good, but not as good as it could have been. The script had some clever bits, but not clever enough to save it. And so on and so on. In every way in every place something was just missing. Well, except for Anil. He was perfect.