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When Cupid strikes

RANA SIDDIQUI

Sooraj Barjatya's "Vivah" is all about the dynamics of a relationship before and after marriage. The director relates this and more.


The climax will be a jolt to the audience. It will test the virtues of the family concerned and put the audience in the place of the characters.



ALL ABOUT LOVE! A scene from the .lm "Vivah".

Sooraj Barjatya is back after three years. This time, with a soft romantic tale of a young boy and a girl. They progress from engagement to marriage in "Vivah", releasing this Friday. With the film, Sooraj hopes to atone for the mistakes of "Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon", a multi-starrer with Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan, which not only damaged his reputation as a fine filmmaker successful at the box office but also put a question mark on the glorious tradition of Rajshri Productions.

That hurt, considering a little over a decade before "Main Prem... ", Sooraj was the one who had given the kiss of life with "Maine Pyar Kiya" to the house gasping for breath. It bagged six Filmfare Awards. Then came "Hum Aapke Hain Koun" (1994) and success came to have an abiding fascination with the production house that gave neat and clean entertainers, and a young director who held his own in an era of cheap jokes and lots of action. In these films, there were close-knit family ties, traditional values, fairytale situations laced with emotional drama and opulent sets that transported the audience to a different world altogether. In contrast to Rajshri's old small budget films of yore, films like "Dosti", "Jeevan Mrityu", "Geet Gata Chal" and "Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se", etc.

Then Sooraj, the shiest Barjatya boy, dared to break free. He made films his own way. He did not compromise on the family values and abiding tradition, just gave a dash of newness to the tried and the tested. It worked.


That is until "Main Prem... " happened. Now is the time to make amends, as Sooraj says. He made his mistake, and claims to have learnt from it.

Sooraj admits, "`Vivah' has been as much a learning process as the failure of `MPKDH'. That one, now I know, remained just a romantic comedy. It didn't have depth. It talked of love without its characters standing for it. `Vivah' deals with the love that was lost in `MPKDH'."

The film that could have opened the gates of Bollywood to two newcomers, as Sooraj had initially thought of taking new faces, has now fallen in the kitty of actors Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao. "Newcomers always take time in establishing a rapport with the audiences. I had a choice of a girl with a classic face and an equally innocent looking guy, so I had initially decided to take them," he reasons.

"Vivah" is a love story that develops through various arranged meetings of the boy and the girl by their respective families. It deals with conflicts, differing opinions, sacrifice, understanding and a lot more. "My film begins with a wedding engagement and ends with marriage. Both the boy and the girl have their own viewpoint and understanding of life. It deals with the dynamics of a relationship before the marriage gets into the usual rut, and how the sweetness of love remains after marriage because of the pre-marriage understanding," Sooraj elaborates.

Today's issues too

While the boy (played by Shahid) hails from Delhi, the girl (Amrita) belongs to a small town called Madhupur near Mathura. Sooraj has given them space according to the city they have been shown as nurtured in. For instance, the boy has just completed his graduation and is too emotional about getting involved in his family business. He is directionless as to what should he do now when his family has decided to get him married. The girl has to abide by what her family has decided is best for her - marriage.

At a time when marriage is the last thing in an economically unsettled boy or girl's life, how can Sooraj decide to lecture this generation to get married so early? "These are the questions that I have raised in the film, subtly. When the boy gets to know that his engagement has been fixed, he gets annoyed. He questions his family members, `When I cannot take my own decisions now, how can I take responsibilities of the other person'. They tell him that it is always better to grow together, to face the ups and downs of life together, be each other's support than just apprehending that it won't work. But they give him all liberty to meet and make his own decision rather than succumb to any pressure," he relates.

"Similarly, I have tried to explore their minds through various scenes. For example, the boy asks the girl to see her at a nearby hill, popularly called the teela in that small town. The girl agrees. But passing through the corner of the house, he sees a beautiful terrace. He asks her why she didn't tell him they have a beautiful meeting point even inside the house? The girl says since he wanted to go to the teela, she didn't want to state her wish to stay at home. It annoys the boy. Why it is only the boy who should take a decision, he questions her. Through such dialogues we have told the importance of a growing relationship and an arranged marriage. Though it doesn't emphasise it, it just conveys that whether it is arranged or love marriage, you must get just the right life partner," underlines Sooraj.

Not that everything is goody-goody in the film. The climax comes as a jolt to the audience. "It tests the virtues of the family concerned and puts the audience in the place of the characters," promises the director.

So also the film abounds with all the things that come with an impending marriage in any middle class family "like where to make arrangements for the guests to stay, where to find a place to keep the ghee that has been brought from Mathura." Talking particularly about the "most difficult phase of shooting", the song a , "Mujhe haq hai" which portraysthe boy meeting the girl on the rooftop of the house, he says, ""In this song the boy realises the importance of getting engaged. With that comes the feeling of sharing his heart with the girl. He now knows that he can say everything to the girl he is falling in love with. "Here he has to say everything to her during an easy conversation in the song. It needed some physical intimacy and some nervousness without being unrealistic. Picturising it and indicating emotions through just the right time of day, costumes, ambience and gestures was difficult to put together." Being a man, Sooraj says he knew how a man would respond to such a situation. But to explore a woman's heart during such a moment, he had to go through "the entire Sarat (Chandra Chattopadhyay) sahitya." Moreover, "My own joint family has 13 members. And I being a keen observer, put many things in the film that I have been consciously or subconsciously observing," he admits. With music by the now almost forgotten Ravinder Jain, Sooraj recalls, "While discussing the shooting location for the film, Ravinder ji just mentioned the `mithas of Madhupur', a small town in Mathura. So we decided to place the film's heroine there and even took some local music notes from there.We also shot in Jageshwari and Almora."

For now, Sooraj is not working on any film script. He is helping his brother Rajat design a portal to be released next month. "It is a complete portal with contents from the world of entertainment to technology to spirituality," he sums up.

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