Seven years ago, Maneesh Sharma’s debut film ‘Band Bajaa Baraat’ gave us the best onscreen kiss in the history of modern Hindi cinema. It also gave us two powerhouse actors in Anushka Sharma and Ranveer Singh. But, most importantly, the film unknowingly ended up serving us a flavourful reminder of the Dilli that resides in the smog-filled Delhi of today.
‘Band Baaja Baraat’ wasn’t the first Hindi film to be set in Delhi, nor would it be the last. But, there was something oddly refreshing about the way the film brought alive the narrow gallis of Delhi, the city’s obsession with grand weddings, even fancier wedding planners, and every Dilliwala’s love for bread-pakodas. It was something that most films failed to capture, essentially making ‘Band Baaja Baraat’ one of the best love letters to Dilli and the people who make up the city. The one with dreams, and the grit to see it turn to reality.
© Yash Raj Films
In the film, which was also the eclectic Ranveer Singh’s debut, the actor played Bittoo, a street-smart and impulsive Delhite, who is desperate to do anything needed to ensure he is not yanked out from his idyllic world in Delhi, and forced to go back to his village and work in sugarcane fields under the hawkish gaze of his strict father. Anushka Sharma’s Shruti on the other hand, is starkly different. She’s ambitious, a go-getter, headstrong and knows how to achieve what she dreams of. Together, they not only make a dream pair, but also effective business partners, running the city’s successful wedding business. Shaadi mubarak indeed!
All is well until that damn kiss. Until she falls in love with him, despite instructing him not to do the same. “Mere paas nahin hai love-shove ke liye time,” she had warned him initially, but a night of alcohol-fuelled celebrations undid the significance of her own instruction. There’s a moment in between their kiss, where Shruti pulls back, and looks at Bittoo. It’s not like they’re looking at each other for the first time, but it still feels like they are seeing each other for the first time; for being people other than their business partners. Their kiss is laced with urgency, with hesitation, and essentially becomes a decision that alters the rest of their lives, and the future of their company.
© Yash Raj Films
The morning after is significant. There is awkwardness in the air, as much as there is realisation. While dropping Shruti home in his scooter, all Bittoo wants to do is leave the scene as quickly as possible in the hope that if they’re far away from each other, maybe their night together– which he classifies as a bad decision– will be promptly forgotten. Shruti, on the other hand, is coming to terms with the realisation that maybe she’d like to go against her better judgement and mix business with pleasure. Maybe, she can fall for Bittoo after all.
Shruti is not the only one holding that specific belief about Bittoo. Ranveer Singh’s endearing performance as the boy who is yet to realise what he wants, ensures that even the audience falls in love with Bittoo, hook line, and sinker. We love him for his childish ways, for how he looks out for Shruti, and how he negotiates the middle-men. But, most of all we fall in love with the man he becomes when he doesn’t have Shruti around. It then dawns on him how much she means to him, and how much she loves him. But, he’s not your usual Yashraj hero, so he obviously can’t spread his arms and mutter an “I love you” in the hope to win her love. Because, his rugged Dilliness hasn’t allowed for him to be coached in the subtle art of romance. He then expresses his emotions to Shruti the only way he can. “Tere bina koi bhi cheez mein mauj nahin hai,” he tells her simply.
© Yash Raj Films
His frank, disarming confession is one of the things that’s so great about ‘Band Baaja Baarat’. The film never tries to ape the templates or clichés of the yesteryear romantic films. Instead, it finds the extraordinary in the ordinary. Take Shruti, for instance. She could be any girl from Delhi; a girl who has dreams that may seem beyond her capabilities, and who is being forced to think about marriage over it. As Shruti, Anushka Sharma brought to the table a kind of poise and maturity that not just elevates the movie, but makes Shruti a unique independent woman, who instead of feeling sorry for herself for not being loved back, decides to move on with her life, in the only way she can.
Neither does she beg Bittoo to fall in love with her, nor does she demand an explanation. Because, she is well aware that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we want it to. Even when they get back together despite their difference to plan that one big wedding, she behaves like an adult, and keeps her personal differences away. The unusually sparkling chemistry that both the leads share further elevates the viewing experience of Band Baaja Baarat to such an extent that every time they are in the same frame, we’re forced to remember why it feels so great to watch two people in love onscreen.
In a way, ‘Band Baaja Baarat’ is also early evidence; a sort of a making of the hugely popular stars and acting powerhouses that Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma have become today. Whether it is playing Alauddin Khilji in the yet to be released ‘Padmavati’, a confused rich son of a dysfunctional family in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, or a charming thief in ‘Lootera’, Ranveer Singh has knocked it out with every single performance, even melting the heart of the dreaded taskmaster that is Sanjay Leela Bhansali who has cast him in three films. Equally talented is Anushka Sharma; who has displayed more versatility than most heroines her age, even spearheading a production company with her brother and giving a break to newcomers with out of the box stories to tell.
Both Anushka Sharma, and Ranveer Singh have now become actors of repute, but back in 2007, they were just newcomers giving their best, just like Shruti and Bittoo in the film, who must become as successful as the actors essaying them. There’s no better proof than that about Ranveer and Anushka being the perfect choices for the film. They just took our hearts away ‘ainvayi ainvayi ainvayi’.