These days filmmakers have been bitten by the remake bug. Directors have this dream to pick up a classic such as Sholay, Don or Karz and recreate it with their own vision. Also there is an overriding desire to place the film in the post-globalisation era or modern India. We saw that very clearly especially in a film like Don. But Sooraj Barjatya obviously doesn't believe in following any trend. For the uninitiated, Sooraj Barjatya, the producer of Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi is the grandson of Tarachand Barjatya. He made his directorial debut with Maine Pyaar Kiya and few directors have achieved the kind of stupendous success, which Sooraj Barjatya achieved with his first film.
So it's not strange that Sooraj Barjatya would look at the bank of hit Rajashri films for inspiration. In all probability Tapasya (1976) produced by his grandfather and directed by Anil Ganguly was a film, which Sooraj probably saw many times during his formative years. But unlike other producers Sooraj obviously saw no reason to contemprorise the theme of his film.
Ek Vivaah is about Chandni (Eesha Koppikhar ) a middle-class girl who lives with her younger siblings and her father Bhushan (Alok Nath). A promising singer she falls in love with Prem (Sonu Sood) who also cares for her. On the day of her engagement her father passes away and suddenly Chandni who is barely out of college finds herself saddled with the responsibility of her brother and sister. Suddenly love and romance take a backseat as Chandni struggles with her responsibilities and Prem promises to wait for however long it takes. But can this fledgling romance stand the test of time?
The biggest flaw
The '60s and the 70's in Bollywood were all about self-sacrifice. And sacrifice to the keep the family bonded was the highest calling for any human being. Times have changed, and so have people. But the director doesn't seem to agree. Chandni remains a paragon of virtue. Her martyrdom is so saccharine-sweet that it leaves you numb.
Ditto for Prem. He makes a commitment to wait for Chandni and doesn't once waver from his 'chosen' path. In the meantime the one thing that gives him joy is playing Santa Claus and surrogate parent to Chandni's brother and sister. He comes from an aristocratic family so money is no cause for concern. From time to time he is surrounded by young nubile lasses who keep asking for his autograph but Prem handles his career in a half-hearted lackadaisical fashion.
The first half of the film is all about how Prem and Chandni meet and fall in love. Although it's loaded with songs both Eesha and Sonu have delivered decent performances. They're convincing and though both of them look a trifle old to be college students the performances are quite convincing.
No shades of grey
While the protagonists have been shown as paragons of virtue there are a couple of characters who have been painted all black. Like Chandni's chachi (don't miss the aliteration here!). She sees Bhushan's death as an excuse to take over the property. Or Chandni's sister-in-law Natasha. All she wants is to live an independent life with her husband. Come on dudes, this is the twentieth century. But she's made out to be selfish and cruel. There are no evil male characters. The director obviously is strongly biased against women.
Flooded with clichÃ©s
There have been films in recent times where a family falls on hard times. Laaga Chunari Mein Daag is one of the names that comes to mind. But in EVAB after a long time we witnessed a scene where a child is being denied a glass of milk just because his father has died. Yes, you better believe this!
Prem's mother is another character straight out of the '60s. Instead of being sympathetic to Chandni's plight she hopes Chandni will just dump her brother and sister or else it will interfere with her wifely duties.
Or the scene where Chandni's brother struggles to tie a rakhi by himself as his wife does not allow him to have any contact with his family. These are just a few of the many clichÃ©s that come to mind.
It's like the director feels he has to squeeze some tears out of you before you leave the auditorium. There's no way they want you to come out dry-eyed.
Why the film will do well
Choosing the lead actors was obviously a conscious choice for the producer. Since neither Eesha or Sonu are known faces in smaller towns they come across as real. In fact all the characters, even the minor ones have played their roles convincingly.
The entire film has been shot in a small town and the locations are absolutely perfect. Even if for some portions sets have been used the ethos is perfectly realistic. Peeling paint, grills across windows, double doors, simple tiled or mosaic flooring; a great deal of attention has been paid to the locale.
At least two-thirds of the film manages to hold your attention. But the makers seem to be sure of their target audience. And this is definitely not a film for metros. It's been made for the small towns and even large villages. In all probability the film will rake in huge profits in these areas.
Despite the music being pithy, a couple of songs might just become popular at weddings and sangeets. Such a pity because the music could have been the saving grace of this film.
Verdict: If mushy family melodramas are your scene then this film is a must watch