My experience of Bollywood is pretty limited up to the point of this movie, I’m going to be honest here: Lagaan, Heart’s Desire and the one that SBS keeps showing where a woman in thrown into a river of ferocious crocodiles by her evil scheming rat of a husband. She comes back after astonishing plastic surgery and wreaks revenge on said rat. Tis rather a tragic number I know but I’m working hard to rectify my meagre Bollywood consumption. My favourite so far is the 4hr cricket epic Lagaan.
I digress, back to Saathiya.
Based on a huge Tamil hit Alaipayuthey, Saathiya is the North Indian remake helmed by Shaad Ali who was one of the assistants on the Tamil film.
It opens with a happy looking young man on his bike zipping through the streets of Mumbai, music plugged in his ears, wind in his hair and seemingly not a care in the world. He, Aditya, arrives at the train station to meet his wife, Suhani, but she never shows up.
It then flashes back to 3 years ago at a small village wedding, where the main characters gets introduced by way of, you guessed it, a song and dance number. Crikey, and we’re not even 15 minutes into the film!
This one is about lurrrve.. yes, say it in the most drippy and doe-eyed fashion you can possibly manage and you’re pretty close to what Saathiya is like. The film tracks through the passage of Adi and Suhani’s relationship, from their initial clash of personalities at the wedding, to them falling in love and then to post marriage proceedings – bliss or misery?
There’s certainly nothing new in the essence of Aditya and Suhani’s story, but Shaad Ali tries to lift it up by introducing a few meaty conflicts for the characters to sink their teeth into: family intervention, class conflict, death.
All these give the story a big swift kick in the butt, assisted by well-choreographed and at times raunchy song and dance numbers, of which are all extremely easy on the ear and eyes except I would have loved it if there were subtitles for the lyrics too!
So technically, in the second half when the going gets tough for our two young lovers, the dramatics should really be hitting the proverbial emotional spot but strangely the impact is somewhat dull. Perhaps it was the occasional saccharine histrionics and the overdrawn ending that detracted from the movie. Its vivacious energy starts to puff a little towards the two hour mark despite all the effort.
Mind you if you do get bored, you can gawk at the amazing scenery. The songs take place from beaches to snow-capped mountains and involved no less than 15 costume changes and a group of back up dancers, if that is the kind of thing that floats your boat.
Everything about Saathiya is well produced and directed. Performances by the two leads Vivek Overoi and Rani Mukherji and the supporting cast, are intrinsically pleasing but like Aditya and Suhani’s relationship, the quality wavers without good solid writing to steady the bumpy bits.