"Prem Ratan Dhan Payo", Sooraj Barjatya's latest offering, with a promise that "Prem is back", disappoints die-hard romantics. Prem aka Salman Khan may be back in a Rajshri production, but certainly, love isn't.
With the premise, "It's all about loving your family", this one is not the quintessential love story you expect when Prem is around, but instead spreads the message of filial love through a preachy and boring three-hour saga.
An oft-told, period extravaganza of a lonely Prince who is misunderstood by his extended family which include his step brother and sisters and how a simpleton Prem Dilwale, a Ram bhakt from Ayodhya, steps in and sets things right for him, forms the crux of this tale.
With too many cinematic liberties, director Sooraj Barjatya's script is not only obsolete and stuck in a bygone era, but also far divorced from reality in terms of its setting, characterisation and narration, making it far-fetched, unpalatable and silly.
Endless brands, integrated into the screen space, also make the film seem like an elaborate commercial, further bringing down its credibility.
The dialogues lack the punch and power and fail to impress. Copious amount of English words thrown in seem incongruous with the characters of the film.
The film belongs to Salman Khan and Barjatya presents him in his usual do-gooder, simple, unassuming avatar, so typical of a Rajshri film.
Salman manages to endear himself to his fans once again, in a make-believe and incredible character.
However, there is no novelty in his mannerisms. He is just an extension of himself from Big Boss.
Sonam Kapoor as his betrothed, Princess Maithili, is a total misfit as she appears too urbanised for the character she portrays. She seems ill at ease, be it in the Rajkumari avatar or dancing to the title song. Her on-screen chemistry with Salman too is non-existent.
Neil Nitin Mukesh has a strong screen presence, but in a two-dimensional character as Ajay Singh, the Prince's younger brother, he does not have much to do and fails to leave an impact.
Similarly, Swara Bhaskar, an otherwise competent actor, hardly has much to offer, as her character of the step-sister Princess Chandrika too is half-baked.
Aashika Bhatia, as Princess Radhika, is confident and holds her own in several scenes.
Deepak Dobriyal, as Prem Dilwale's confidante and friend Kanhaiya, is a live wire and performs brilliantly bringing energy to his character.
Anupam Kher, as the trusted and loyal Diwan, is his usual self, with expected sparks of brilliance in some scenes.
V. Manikandan's cinematography is the saviour. With wide lens frames, he majestically captures the elaborate production designs and picturesque locales, thus transforming you to those places.
The choreography is old-fashioned with the dance steps strongly reminiscent of his earlier films.
The music by Himesh Reshammiya and Sanjoy Chowdhury is lack-lustre, while the background score hits high notes too often, making the film appear like an opera ensemble.
Overall, "Prem Ratan Dhan Payo" offers nothing new,
except the latest sartorial designs for Sonam and the English vocabulary perhaps.
That seems to be Barjatya's attempt at contemporising the film. Else, Prem and
his family ensure that you are still trapped in the time machine of the 1980s.
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