Well, that was fun!!!! If it had released 20 years ago, it would be a solid hit and forgotten in a month, and then it would pop-up on TV occasionally and people would say “oh yeah, that movie!” I don’t know how it will do in today’s world at the box office, but at least critically I want to treat it as the nice unambitious pleasant fairy tale it aspires to be, not as the Great Noble Brilliant Movie that it wasn’t even trying to be. I suspect other reviewers might ding it for not being the Great Noble Brilliant Movie they thing it should be without realizing it never wanted to be that.
It’s still not the perfect cast. Karan has been talking about how he wrote this for Rani and Kajol and Shahrukh. And at least with Kajol and Shahrukh, I really miss them. Varun’s role needs that charming but with a depth of anger and danger to him that Varun just doesn’t have, but Shahrukh perfected in his early years of acting.
Varun is a closer fit than Alia though. Alia needs to be that sparkling instantly charming natural actress that Kajol was. Or Madhuri, or Sridevi, or Rekha, or a whole range of actresses. Alia can’t play this role, and I don’t think Rani could either, but Sara Ali Khan could. I saw this with my friend and she put her finger on it, the character has to come across as more emotional than intelligent in order for the film to work, for her decisions to be sympathetic. And Alia can’t play stupid. That kind of “thinking with the heart not the head” doesn’t work for her.
On the other hand, Sonakshi and Aditya are really really good! I think they benefited from their characters not being the initial focus of the concept. There was more space for them to create their own performances and their own interpretations. Their story is lovely, and turns in a way that was completely unexpected.
Sanjay and Madhuri were also a bit disappointing. Both of them seemed fine, nothing really wrong with them. And then they have their one scene together and it is like they suddenly woke up from sleepwalking. All the emotions, all the chemistry, all the electricity, it is like it is 1994 again and they are both at the top of their game.
The songs were far less disappointing within the film than in the trailers. The Ram-Leela song is just spectacular to watch, Madhuri’s dance comes off better, and Alia has an introduction song which is fine. The visuals in general were far better than I expected. A lot of green screen, yes, but also a lot of imagination. Madhuri’s area in particular is spectacular. And completely impractical, she not only has a ceiling to floor chandelier, and a fountain that is constantly running, and no furniture, she also has a dozen dancers that just show up to dance, all the time, in matching costumes.
If you are someone who looks for realism and logic in your films, or perfect special effects, this is not for you. But if you are someone who is nostalgic for the rough and tumble days of the 90s when it was more about the emotions and the drama than being “realistic”, this is a movie you should watch.