Movie Review: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

A typican Sooraj Barjatya moview, with lots of songs and drama, PRDP is a mixed bag. In the last two films, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and now, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Salman has proved that he knows best what commercial entertainers are all about. They brighten our festivals, spread joy and make for the most delectable family outings and sometimes without breaking any bones! You’d have to invent a genre to define Barjatya’s cinema: it’s the attending-a-family-function genre. It’s lovely to meet everyone, all dressed up. We discover a surprising tolerance for certain traditions.

The film is set in a place called Pritampur with a fractured royal family comprising two brothers and their two step sisters. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is about a commoner (Salman Khan’s Prem) who takes the place of a royal (Salman Khan’s Vijay Singh). Prem only agrees to do it because he’s already crushing on the prince’s fiancée, Princess Maithili (Sonam Kapoor). Prem is a charming and funny guy who adores Princess Maithili, so much that he would do anything to meet her. On the other hand is Vijay, a rather strict, bound by rules prince who keeps fighting with his fiance Maithili due to ego clashes, while his siters hate him. The sisters hate him because they were born to his father’s mistress and brother Ajay (Neil Nitin Mukesh) hates him because he feels Vijay is hampering his living, a misunderstanding created by estate manager, Chirag (Armaan Kohli).

The film opens in Ayodhya (that’s where Prem is from), with images of Ram temples and the Hanuman Chaleesa, and it frequently frames its leading man against the sun, as if hinting at asuryavanshi – when the villain (Neil Nitin Mukesh) makes his move, clouds gather and block out the light. The heroine is called Maithili, which is another name for Sita.

Other than Salman, Anupam Kher is bankable as ever as a loyal employee of the royal household. His camaraderie with Prem and his love and loyalty for Vijay, is something to relish. Neil Nitin is more like a good-looking puppet, and Armaan Kohli is menacing but hardly has a presence. As a standalone film, PRDP’s story is as predictable as it gets, often silly, but Salman never lets these negatives play a spoilsport. The most disappointing thing about it, however, is Sonam Kapoor and her complete lack of chemistry with Salman. She is extremely superficial as Maithli.

The computer generated long shots of the ‘Sheesh Mahal’ (a glass structure in the middle of a lake) are surreal. The second half of the film stretches for too long, and Himesh Reshammiya’s ten songs feel like 25 for the rapid frequency with which they play out. The film’s finale is dissatisfying on various counts, especially for the raw deal it hands over to one of the central characters. A film that’s all about loving your family, it has its faults, but with Salman Khan’s dual force (he plays a double role), a lilting romance, and the oding on traditional values, this one’s sure to hit the right spots with the family folks.

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