Prem Ratan Dhan Payo…

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is about palace intrigue, conspiracy and, as is the wont with Rajshri movies, reconciliation and happy endings. Despite being based on a royal background, the essence remains the same as all SoorajBarjatya films: family and values. This is also the costliest venture Rajshri has produced.

Salman Khan aka Prem is a street-smart Rambhakta in Ayodhya and loves to perform the role of Ram during Ram Leela. As in most films, Prem has a sidekick in Deepak Dobriyal. Salman Khan aka Vijay Singh is the crown prince of faraway place calledPritampur and due for his Rajyabhishek (crowning).

Vijay has royal bearings and makes sure he shows it. One of the routines he follows is to have a sabre dual with his step brother, Neil NitinMukesh. Neil is much influenced negativelyin the palace by ArmaanKohli, a sort of major domo. Also, at odds with Vijay are his two step sisters, SwaraBhaskar and Ashika Bhatia, who want a share in the royal property. Swara ekes out a living as a teacher while Ashika is a student and good at playing football.

Neilconspires with Armaan to remove Vijay from the scene so that he can usurp all the property; he has also been made to believe by Armaan that all his bills are to be sanctioned by elder brother Vijay. Vijay always clears all the bills but Armaan makes Neil believe otherwise thus creating a rift between brothers.

Though about royalty, the film takes a contemporary approach. But we don’t know why Vijay travels in an old style stagecoach while the rest of the people use limousines. That is probably to make it easy for Armaan and Neil to bump him off! So, the coach rider jumps off the coach locking Vijay inside and the coach falls off a cliff.

In comes Prem, put in place by the only loyalist, AnupamKher, a diwan from Vijay’s father’s time. Vijay has survived but is badly hurt. While he is being treated by doctors in some secret hideout, thanks to AnupamPrem is asked to pretend to be Vijay. Prem has a reason to accept because he has secretly fallen in love with Sonam Kapoor, a princess from another state, who is due in Pritampur for the occasion since she is the fiancé of Vijay.

Sonam wants out of the impending marriage because she and Vijay are poles apart.Prem takes it upon himself to correct her misgivings about Vijay by being very nice to her. After all, he is the Rajshri hero who only has other people’s best at heart even if he has to make sacrifices. He also uses his goodness to win over the estranged stepsisters promising them equal share in all the royal wealth. No matter it does not belong to him!

It is time to contend with the evildoers, Armaan and Neil, who have kidnapped Vijay from the hideout. For whatever reason, they take Prem to the spot where Vijay is captive. Armaan is now ready to betray even Neil and plans to let Vijay and Neil get into sabre fight till one is killed.

Sonam’s job meanwhile is to sing songs with Salman and help him play the replacement Vijay with conviction by reminding him of her and Vijay’s past encounter. Of course, by now Sonam has also fallen in love with Prem and become demonstrative in expressing her love for him. All the negative feelings of various character are neutralized by Prem and he gets the trophy.

PremRatanDhanPayo is unnecessarily long. The first half is as good as irrelevant as nothing interesting happens and the leisurely narrative coupled with loose script make the process slow and boring. The film shows some promise in the latter parts of the second half but again becomes predictable with a routine climax. The SoorajBarjatya touch is missing here and one also notices a few glitches here and there. There is an overdose of songs which are placed at random. However, the film has generally good score. Four of the songs have popular appeal. Sets are good and are well exploited by the cinematographer.

The film is all about Salman and he dominates the screen throughout. Though the Vijay part is brief compared to Prem, Salman juxtaposes both parts very well. What ails the film is the total lack of chemistry between Salman and Sonam and the latter’s limitations as an actor, the fact which makes the romance hard to believe. Anupam lends credibility to his character of a loyal diwan. Neil has a smaller role and limited scope. Deepak, Swara and Ashika are okay. Armaan fails to make a mark.

PremRatanDhanPayo may interest audiences away from metros with multiplex crowd soon tapering out. The film has opened to full houses all over and is expected to cross 40 crore mark on day one (released on Thursday), but it faces an uphill task with a price tag of 135 crore.

Producers: Kamal Kumar Barjatya, Raj Kumar Barjatya, Ajit Kumar Barjatya.

Director: Sooraj RBarjatya.                       

Cast: Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, AnupamKher, Neil NitinMukesh, SwaraBhaskar, ArmaanKohli, Deepak Dobriyal, Samaira Rao.

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