Even though I pick Hindi movies to watch with great care, I'll still end up watching a few that blow. Or a decent one that drags. And so I've devised ways to entertain myself while watching movies. Often I'll have flights of fancy. I'll develop a conspiracy theory. I'll try to imagine what the writer might have been thinking and try to guess the next plot twist. And before you know it, three hours have whizzed by and I walk out all happy.
I'm not trying to imply that the well-meaning Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi sucked, although there were moments when I wished I was in the Bahamas instead. And even though I wasn't looking for a story within the story, the big entity upstairs decided to give me one. Here is how it worked.
In RBNJ, Shahrukh Khan plays two characters - both are the same person, but different persona. As Suri, he plays a bespectacled, unspectacular "common man" - kind of like those that inhabited R. K. Laxman cartoons, but with more hair. And he also plays SRK, although here he calls himself Raj Kapoor. Caught in between is poor Anuskha Sharma, played like a ping pong by the two Shahrukhs. In the end there is much drama as she must choose, but I'm getting off track here.
Somewhere in the second half is Roop Kumar Rathod's romantic lullaby Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai . Chasmis Khan and Flashy Khan both sing this song in turns. When Chasmis Khan is singing in an awkward, affectionate way, Anushka barely notices him and repeatedly walks right past him. But when Flashy Khan takes the stage and does the "pelvic Indian dance", Anuskha is instantly charmed and throws him a look of endearment or two.
Chasmis Khan is Aditya Chopra in my Rab Ne Bana Di Story. Flashy Khan is some phataka new director like Murugadoss . Anuskha is the Indian audience. I know its a stretch, but who can question what the Rab has in store for you?
Ghajini and RBNJ both opened close to each other in theaters - pitting the two maharathis of the Indian box office - Shahrukh and Aamir Khan - directly against one another. Ghajini raked in the moolah, RBNJ was a modest hit.
Ghajini director Murugadoss did balle balle all over his film - filling it with rapid edits, cutting on action, camera shakes, one superb fast motion scene and variable speed. He was trying to grab eyeballs by sheer visual momentum. It was Youth Film Making for the B4U generation.
In RBNJ, director Aditya Chopra is relatively fuddy duddy with his technique. He stages each shot with care - not resorting to any post production effects to punch up the scene. He trusts his story enough that he allows himself to tell it. Ironically enough the flashiest moments in the movie come in a scene that is an homage to Yash Raj Films' Dhoom 2 - the mother of all flashy flicks.
This is purely my opinion but Aditya is a better writer than he is a director. He infuses RBNJ with some nifty layers - there is a standout scene in which an inebriated Flashy Khan taunts (a replica of) Chasmis Khan and threatens to steal his wife from him. If anything Aditya's turns of plot need polish and appear to be a little out of touch with the zeitgeist.
So while watching the movie I couldn't help but think that this entire contraption is a device to tell us about the crossroads Indian Films find themselves at. There is the old school style of film making (see for example Hollywoodland) - sober, quiet, endearing and faithful to its audience. And then there is the new style full of audio and visual shimmies, brought on by a generation of filmmakers who cut their teeth on commercials (see for example Death Race). Which is the style that will define the memories of an entire generation of Hindi film goers?
Aditya's female lead spends all her time ignoring sober Bollywood and finding pleasure in flashy Bollywood. And what happens in the end? Well, if you were Aditya, how would you end your story?