The biggest challenge is perhaps trying to keep relevant the world his films inherit for today’s audience. It is absurd to see a scene sugar coated to show Sonam Kapoor lustfully pining for Salman Khan.
As much a Walt Disney tale in its sets and plots as in the simplistic nature of its tale, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is an incorrigible ode by Sooraj Barjatya to…himself. That unflinching belief in the system of the family, of respecting age-old traditions, and Salman Khan (sounds like a mobster film with a desi twist!) is on unbridled display for three considerably long hours.
Having enjoyed Hum Aapke Hai Koun…! and even the mawkishness of Hum Saath Saath Hain to an extent, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo feels like an imperfect doppleganger – aspiring for the same ideals, and failing to get there. The director has never bothered for intricate plots and twists, and his forte has been in creating the dramatic with every day situations and conflicts.
With the responsibility of a story that has an heir apparent to a kingdom, Salman Khan in a double role, and even a genuine villain thrown in, Sooraj Barjatya and his writers wrangle with a weakly plotted tale inspired loosely from Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. The story and screenplay are basic at best, and the final act collapses under the sheer weight of trying to make a house of cards – or glass, in this case – stand up.
In the moments where he’s making family relationships work is when the film comes into its own. When brother and sister finally make peace with their strained relationship, its Sooraj Barjatya in complete command of his skill. His aesthete is in the melodrama of course, but it is where he is able to provide most honesty and meat – if one can be allowed to use that word for a Rajshri production – to the film.
The film is high on gloss and grandeur, with lavish sets and sights straight out of a fairy tale. But technically, it has little to boast in other areas – a very weak musical score, average cinematography, and non-existent editing.
The biggest challenge is perhaps trying to keep relevant the world his films inherit for today’s audience. It is absurd to see a scene sugar coated to show Sonam Kapoor lustfully pining for Salman Khan. So basically, the woman demanding sex from the man, and before they are married? For his films, that idea is not just foreign, it is non-existent; just how do you work that in a Sooraj Barjatya film? On current evidence, the answer is not forthcoming.