Freeze Frame #152: Band Baaja Baaraat

How did I not get to this film earlier?

As rom-coms go, this is among the best in recent memory. A near-flawless script that concentrates on dialogue rather than copping out with a montage, a lead couple who click together perfectly, an utter paucity of over-the-top scenes… But what really makes this film work, I think, is its language. The actors never step out of character when they speak — business is always pronounced binness, Shruti is always Shruttee. Their Janakpuri and Haryanvi origins are never pushed to the background to make way for cookie-cutter dialogue. Baradwaj Rangan, in his glowing review of the film, calls it the rom-com Dibakar Bannerjee might have made (a reference to the Delhi he brings to life, most notably in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye)

That may be why one of my favourite scenes in the film is the one right at the end where Bittoo declares his love for Shruti. As far as rom-com dialogue goes, this is often where all the heavy artillery comes out. This is true here as well, but the language remains what it was until that point. Look at the use of the word mauj and think of how different it is from words like khushi — it is pretty much the exact word one would expect Bittoo to use in this context. Ranveer Singh absolutely nails the delivery and makes it among the most heartfelt scenes I have seen in this genre. Rarely do debutants get it so gloriously right.

ps: A few other observations about the film:

  • Has there ever been a more well-shot and acted kissing scene in Hindi cinema? I doubt it.
  • The offhand references to other films — is that deliberate, I wonder. Some of the same actors from Rocket Singh, another film about a small-time business that grows because of the sincerity of the people involved. One of them even plays a very similar character here. The ganne ka khet reference — is that a nod to Jab We Met?
  • The big production number towards the end — was that really necessary? It struck an unrealistic note in what had been a wonderful movie so far in many ways. A more down-to-earth approach that justified the Janakpuri chaap description would’ve worked better, I think.
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7 thoughts on “Freeze Frame #152: Band Baaja Baaraat

  1. Heh yeah how come you didn’t catch this movie earlier?!

    Surely one of the top 3 films from last year. The writing was of course top notch but what really stole the show for me was the lead performances. Not often you get to see both the actors flawlessly cast and performing so well. Even the supporting roles of that florist guy, the caterer, Shruti’s dad and family in general. They kept everything so real and the biggest irony is the fact that this is from Yashraj films. I don’t think any of the actresses last year were as good as Anushka Sharma in this one

  2. Gradwolf>> I wouldn’t write Yash Raj off completely in these matters. Adi Chopra does greenlight the odd small film that stays small and therefore works. Rocket Singh, for instance.

    Karthik>> Yeah, it does center around her and doesn’t let him call the shots. Even that throwaway dig by his brother when he talks about becoming a wedding planner — “hamaare gaon ke baalak janaaniyon ke kaam nahin karte” — enhances the contrast.

    Maybe we ought to find a name for the rom-com sub-genre involving firebrand punjabi kudis? 🙂

  3. meeraahji says:

    Yes, the movie was simply awesome. I loved every frame of it, from the scooter,to Shruti’s jhola, the “batter than the bast” kind of ‘delhi’ dialogue. Truly an out and out entertainer… pity that the actors are being talked about for their ‘affair’ rather than their acting.

    – Meera

  4. Banno says:

    Loved the film. The best part of this film is that you’ll be able to watch it again and again, over the years, and I don’t think it will pall.

  5. Meera>> Too true. My guess is, once the film is released and all the critics are done raving about it and the audiences are done watching it and agreeing with the critics, the film itself no longer provides anything newsworthy. a romance between the stars, on the other hand… sad, but true.

    Banno>> I wonder how many of the much-loved rom-coms earn that distinction, and if there’s any fundamental similarity between them. Then again, if there was such a formula, it would’ve been observed by filmmakers before this and they would’ve tried to replicate it, thereby nullifying it. Some kind of efficient markets theory for films, I guess 🙂

  6. I’m still waiting for my copy, which I’ll probably get on my birthday, but I heard nothing bad about it AT ALL, so I cannot wait… Nice that you still did a review!

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