Shah Rukh Khan's Surinder Sahni, the hero of Rab Ne... comes straight after his reality show, Paanchvi Paas....Naturally, he seems to have walked off the small screen onto the big screen, complete with his nondescript attire, his commonplace bearings and his aam aadmi personae.
Surinder Sahni, the clerk in the Punjab electricity department who oils his hair, showers under the courtyard tap, dons ill-fitting greys and browns and drives a scooter, expresses himself in half-sentences, is indeed a fitting tribute to the umpteen participants of the reality show hosted by the actor. He's a character you still haven't seen in Shah Rukh's arsenal before. And that's why he strikes a chord.
But that's about all this much-awaited film can boast about. Quite a let-down, specially since it marked the return of director Aditya Chopra after a long hiatus from the hurly burly of movie-lore.
Also, it seems odd that the romance which begins on a promising note, peters off into a long drawn story that limits itself to primarily two scenes: the stark dining room of the newly married Mr and Mrs Sahni (Shah Rukh and Anoushka) and the dance school, where a bored Mrs Sahni falls in love with the husband she doesn't recognise, only because he doesn't sport a moustache, wears gaudy tees, flashy glares and gelled hair. Hey, is that really possible? Try putting a moustache on the person you live with and see if you don't recognise him!
But Mrs Sahni fails to realise the man she shares her silent dinners with, after marrying him because dad dies, and the man who she jives with on the dance floor is one and the same. So, we see her mild-mannered, hopelessly in love husband repeatedly entering his best buddy's (Vinay Pathak) saloon, shedding his greasy look, his horn-rimmed glasses and donning the roadside romeo avtar of Raj, the Jat. Mrs Sahni does point an admonishing finger at him each time he tries to cheaply flirt with her, but soon, she's hopelessly in love with him after he lights up the city with his love missive. But Mrs. Sahni is married, no? And she needs to live happily ever after with Mr Sahni, no? So, she prays to God and God settles her quandary. Another incongruity!
It's these two major absurdities -- the moustache-as-disguise and the miraculous divine revelation at the end -- that turn this film into a drama that's completely out-of-sync with contemporary Bollywood. Also, the repetitive scenes just don't add to the momentum of the love story that expends itself in the first few frames. The only high point of the film is Shah Rukh's interpretation of the geeky-gawky middle class hero, who would have actually been quite lovable if he didn't metamorphose into his gaudy, over-the-top alter ego, Raj. Debutante Anushka lacks all chutzpah and can barely hold your attention. The tribute-to-Bollywood song-dance sequel too seems such a been-there-done-that experience after the glitzy star parade in Om Shanti Om, as do the endless tributes to YRF hits like Dhoom and DDLJ.
Watch it, only for Surinder Sahni ji, a refreshing new take on the Bollywood hero.