The film is directed by Sooraj Barjatya, and also stars Sonam Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Anupam Kher.
Salman Khan becomes Prem once again as he allows himself to be directed by Sooraj Barjatya, who gave two superhits with the star in the form of Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hai Koun, and an average fare in Hum Saath Saath Hai. PRDP is a remake of Rajshris' own Raja aur Runk, that starred Sanjeev Kumar. However, unlike the earlier film, PRDP focuses more on romance and family melodrama.
What's it about
Salman Khan plays dual roles of Prem Dilwale and Vijay. Vijay is the heir apparent of the kingdom of Pritampur, who has a messed up family with his stepbrother wanting to kill him, while his step sisters are just angry with him for being his father's mistress' daughters, and hence are outsiders. Prem, meanwhile, is the niwasi of Ayodhya who falls for a princess Maithili (Sonam Kapoor), who had come to his town for some charity work. Maithili is engaged to Vijay though she is not too happy about the arrangement. Due to the machinations of the stepbrother and his disloyal manager (Armaan Kohli), Vijay is involved in a near fatal accident (that should have really killed him, but it's Salman, so....) and is left in a coma. Vijay's loyal aides (Anupam Kher and Deepraj Rana) spot Prem and his friend (Deepak Dobriyal) in the market of Pritampur, where they are on their way to see Maithili. They hire him to take place of Vijay till the raaj tilak which happens four days later. Prem, with his do-gooder attitude, mend Vijay's broken ties with his family members and also win Maithili's heart in the process. More melodrama, more love songs, more tears, a damp squib of a fight scene in a mirror palace, families getting together and finally all is well. After all this is Barjatya film, so balls to you if you expect an un-sanskaaari ending!
The only reason you bear this three hour long quiche of songs and melodrama is Salman Khan and his infectious charm. Though he falters a bit as the stiff Vijay, he is completely in his comfort zone as Prem. Be it his innocent laugh, his thok-jhok with Anupam Kher, his Hindi garbled with English speech, it's a Salman show all the way. Though his act could be seen as an extension of what he did in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, you can't help but smile with him when he is neck deep in his trademark goofiness. After Salman Khan, it's Anupam Kher who makes the maximum impact. Sonam Kapoor looks pretty and puts in a decent act, though her chemistry with Salman Khan pales in front of camaraderie we see between him and Anupam Kher. Deepak Dobriyal and Swara Bhaskar are pretty good though their characters lack enough meat to match their talent. The first half moves fairly well, as Salman Khan, Deepak Dobriyal and Anupam Kher provide many of the lighter moments. Special mention must also be given to Nitin Desai's art direction and cinematography by V. Manikandan. Also, the choreography in PRDP title track is top-notch.
While it's laudable on the part of Sooraj Barjatya to stick to the sweetness of the nineties, anything in excess is harmful to your viewing pleasure. While I was quite happy with '90s flavour in the first half, the over-melodrama in the second half brings us the memories of the cringe-worthiness seen in the '80s era. The biggest loophole is that it's 2015 and Barjatya hasn't moved ahead with the times. The film has excess of everything, be it the length, the songs, the melodrama, but today's audience has limited patience to bear all that. Less is always more and that's something Sooraj needs to accept. Also unlike his previous ventures which had some truly memorable characters (Bauji and Tuffy, remember anyone?), except for Prem, none of the characters tugs to your heart in PRDP. From the start till the end, you know how the film will move and how it will end - it's a potpourri of cliches. And if you guessed it right, Yay! You are eligible to write the screenplay of Rajshri Films' next venture.
The editor seems to have forgotten that he had a job to do, as a few sequences get stretched too much to ruin your patience (WTF was the football song all about? It was so unfunny that I actually pitied Sonam Kapoor for smiling throughout the scene...and that fight scene in the climax, so drenched in the tackiness of the '70s!). The plot screams to you for bringing your brains to the movie. How come Vijay survived a huge fall of the cliff with just a few minor bruises and a unpronounceable condition, both of which disappear within four days? Why did Vijay's father make his palace at the edge of the waterfall and yet has so weak ledges that even a child can easily dismantle it? Why does Neil Nitin Mukesh and Armaan Kohli do nothing much even when they realise Anupam Kher has brought in an impostor? Neil Nitin Mukesh is completely wasted (There is a stolen Games of Thrones musical cue in a scene that looks like it is included to either mock the poor guy's recent GoT casting disaster, or may be a symbol of how long the film will be). Armaan Kohli plays a one dimensional villain, who is as menacing as the teddy bear my niece plays with! Also the number of times every character says the word Dilwale, it is as if Salman Khan is giving free publicity to his current 'best' friend, Shah Rukh Khan and his upcoming film!
What to do
Sooraj Barjatya should never be blamed for believing in the goodness of the nineties and incorporating it in today's cinema. But what needs to be blamed is that he still sticks to the old style film-making and expects the audience to accept it. That's where Prem Ratan Dhan Payo as a film fails. What could have been Salman Khan's sweetest Diwali gift to his fans turns out to be so depressing that you wait for this festival to get over asap! If you are a true Salman Khan and have patience to bear melodrama for more than 3 hours, go enjoy the challenge!
2.5 out of 5
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