Mumbai, 27 Jul 2017 22:00 IST
Syed Ahmed Afzal builds an interesting atmosphere with some captivating characters, but the film is let down by a poor lead (hero) and a hurried screenplay.
The conflict between the traditional idea of arranged marriage and love marriages has played out in Hindi films for a very long time. With Baaraat Company, director Syed Ahmed Afzal attempts to bring the flavour of Lucknow, a dash of 'ghar wapsi' and a touch of romance, to the screen.
The film begins with a hodge podge situation of a groom escaping a wedding arranged by his parents. Enter Imaan Singh (Ranveer Kumar), a marriage henchman, who handles his grandfather's business of arranging marriages by force. Whether it is the groom or the bride, Immu, as he is called, ensures that the event will take place as planned by force or charm. He is assisted by his trusted trio - a eunuch, Aapa, a foreign looking Jackson, and a heartbroken, short, angry fighter, aptly named Diljala.
The business flourishes until the point Imaan Singh tries to block the marriage of Yasmin Shaikh (Anurita Jha). It is here that he bumps into the independent, free thinking Mehek (Sandeepa Dhar). Imaan falls head over heels for her and turns over a new leaf. He teams up with Mehek to help Yasmin get married to the nerd in Allahabad University. Except now his own grandfather and Yasmin's brother are after the whole lot. There is also Mehek's own fiance who is an SP in Lucknow police, Abhay (Vishal Karwal), and Imaan's own engagement that add to the drama.
The film is interesting in parts. Some of the situations seem unnecessary, and are dragged down further by the pondering dialogues. The story is fairly ordinary, and moves without consideration of any character arcs. The sudden transformation of Kumar's character from a macho, patriarchal gangster to a gentlemanly Romeo overnight is a bit far fetched. The conflicted nature of Dhar's heroine comes across well, and is played effectively. But again, the audience is left wondering how the independent, strong girl goes from picking up a fight with the rowdy Imaan Singh in one scene to immediately trusting of him in the next. The several romantic moments in the film often feel forced due to the incomplete linking of the two character arcs.
The film is let down majorly by the below par acting of its lead, Ranveer Kumar. The actor, in his debut film, manages the role of the gangster and catches the Lucknowi accent well. However, the emotion and drama is a little too much to ask of him, it seems. The peak moment when his character discovers the hatred of his grandfather feels a little incomplete, and is not pursued either.
Sandeepa Dhar delivers a decent performance and makes the best of what her role offers. Her character seems confused and flippant is a few scenes, but she turns out to be the saving grace of the film.
The scene stealer though is Diljala. Fiery, comic, and a character in every meaning of the term, he is the source of all the major laughs in the film. Along with Diljala, the rest of the robinhood crew, Jackson and Aapa, also deserve some credit to that end.
Director Afzal delivers a visually effective template for the film with his hovering shots of Lucknow's sights, but the progression of the plot leaves much to be desired. Often, the screenplay felt like it skipped a scene or two. One among the many loopholes in the plot is when Yasmin goes missing, her family never questions Imaan Singh, who actually has an expertise in these matters.
The climax, if we could call it that, feels a let down with its imbalance of emotions and a message on secularism. The use of a dargah as a safe place for the couples, and a sufi styled Ghalib song, leading in to the major conflict feels like a cliche. The sacrificial turnaround at the end to get the lovers to unite is also a cliched device.
Syed Ahmed Afzal delivered some socially relevant themes in his previous films, Youngistaan (2012) and Laal Rang (2016). In an exclusive interview with Cinestaan.com, Afzal had talked of his constant search for new subjects. With Baaraat Company, he picks up the subject of inter-religion and inter-caste marriages. The triumph of love against the forced patriarchal system prevalent in India. The director succeeds in getting some of his message across, but cannot escape the plentiful flaws of the film.