Appearances are deceptive in “Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana” (Please Come to the Wedding). In the beginning, our hero appears to be a likeable, if excitable, young man, consumed by the thought of marital bliss. But as the story progresses, he goes berserk. So does the film.
Ratnaa Sinha’s film starts off well enough, with an arranged marriage proposal between Satyendar (Rajkummar Rao) and Aarti (Kriti Kharbanda). He is about to start a job as a clerk, an enviable position in small town India where a government jobs holds the promise of security, respect and the potential to earn beyond your means through graft.
To Aarti, a college topper who is being forced into marriage, Satyendar is an escape from her restrictive, domineering father. He loves her, gives her equal footing in the partnership and is even willing to let her work after marriage. Sinha gets the milieu, the regressive attitude towards women and their role as second-class citizens spot on.
But on the day of the marriage, it all comes undone. The groom’s mother declares that she will not let Aarti work, which also happens to be the same day that the latter discovers she might be on the cusp of a great career. Pushed by her elder sister (Nayani Dixit), she runs away from her wedding and leaves Satyendar a broken, bitter man.
Up until here, the film appears to be on its course, if a little rough around the edges. But post interval, we are subjected to a convoluted revenge saga that does no service to the story or characters.
Five years later, Satyendar has transformed from a lowly clerk to a top government official who takes it upon himself to investigate graft allegations against his former fiancé. Aarti, reeling under the double shock of seeing the man she was to marry and the danger of losing her coveted government job, crumbles into a weeping mess.
Satyendar acts sadomasochistic, while Aarti oscillates from simpering at him to accusing him of ruining her life. Sinhaa chooses to punctuate all this with deafening background music and pithy songs about heartbreak. It all seems too ludicrous.
Rajkummar Rao tries his best to salvage the situation, humanising Satyendar for the most part; but even he cannot pull off the truly farcical parts of this film.
Kharbanda falls short, but Govind Namdeo, Nayani Dixit and Manoj Pahwa put in strong supporting performances. Sinhaa had a chance to depict the many social ills that are legitimised in the name of marriage in India, and this film feels like an opportunity lost.
Editing by David Lalmalsawma