Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) by Maneesh Sharma

Baand Baaja Barat. I saw this film because it was onFilm Companion’s Top 10 films of the decade. I figured that as I am a bit oblivious when it comes to Indian cinema, and have a strong bias for western cinema, it would be good to watch the films on the list.Udaan’sviewing and review was a result of that. However, unlikeUdaan,Baand Baaja Baaraatleaves a lot to be desired, making one wonder why it made the list anyway. After all, can such a generic film be on there and if so, what does that say about the last decade of Indian cinema?

Before I continue, it is important to note why I think the film is flawed. Its biggest shortcoming is its length. It is too long, stuffed with scenes and shots that underline, italicize and bolden emotions and beats for the audience. This is a staple in Bollywood and one I am desperate to see us grow past–as an audience, and as filmmakers.

The second reason it is too long is because it has dance numbers. It does not need dance numbers, at least not choreographed ones. In a film that is trying to be realistic, or at least more realistic than most Bollywood films, the songs simply break immersion. The world created is notLa La LandorBajirao Mastani, it’s grimey and modern. So, why try to heighten it up with over the top music and dance?

Aside from the duration, the film also has a plot plagued by convenience. While there are a range of interesting characters, the film is so focused on serving its heroes, that every other character is made subservient to their needs and wants. They do not really have any lives of their own and appear and disappear from the story as per the writer’s needs. This feels sloppy and is quite common across Bollywood. Again, it makes one wonder, why ever would this film be considered on the list of top 10 films of the decade? If its most groundbreaking quality is its fresh take on a love story; where for once the male lead listens to female’s request of not wanting a romance, then that’s a sad cause. If it is the unique setting and occupation the characters take up, then again, that does not seem like enough when contrasted with all the other shortcomings.

Film Companion states that the film has memorable choreography. In my opinion, it does not. It’s so bland that I literally skipped ahead during the songs which were long to begin with. I do agree with them that the film has some nice one liners, though I can’t remember them. And it has a pretty well performed exploration of parting and holding onto a loved one. But I really hope that we can do better going forward.

That said, I hate to simply shit all over a film. All films that hard work to make and I am sure that Maneesh Sharma and his team poured their heart and soul into it. To that end, I shall commend them on making a mostly enjoyable film and hope that going forward they continue better themselves.

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