A jealous friend sets out to sabotage a young woman's upcoming marriage in "Mere yaar ki shaadi hai," an entertaining, well-tooled piece of masala fluff with no pretensions other than to send auds out whistling the title number with a smile on their faces. Lacking major marquee names but carrying the Yash Chopra-produced trademark, pic opened very strongly in India June 7, and looks to have legs as well.

A jealous friend sets out to sabotage a young woman’s upcoming marriage in “Mere yaar ki shaadi hai,” an entertaining, well-tooled piece of masala fluff with no pretensions other than to send auds out whistling the title number with a smile on their faces. Lacking major marquee names but carrying the Yash Chopra-produced trademark, pic opened very strongly in India June 7, beating out two much-hyped dramas about ’20s freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, and looks to have legs as well.

Latest production from the Chopra fold carries all the hallmarks of the veteran producer (glossy look, yarn set in an extended family, lectures on responsibility and values), with plentiful echoes of his previous pics but without a massive budget or superstars like Shah Rukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan to give it extra clout. Instead, we get a bunch of youngsters — Uday Chopra and Jimmy Shergill from the Chopra family’s “Mohabbatein” (2000), newcomer Sanjana, and babe du jour Bipasha Basu — backed up by older reliables playing family members.

At every level (casting, budget, songs, production values), pic is one notch down from a Chopra super-production, but it still makes a fine entry-level Bollywood pic. And anyone who thinks “Monsoon Wedding” was actually representative of contemporary Bollywood should just take a look at the real thing here.

In an evident attempt to boost him to star status, Uday Chopra is given the lead role of Sanjay Malhotra, an unlucky-in-love playboy who platonically shares a spacious Mumbai apartment with drop-dead gorgeous model Ria (Basu). One day, he gets a surprise call from his childhood friend, Anjali (Sanjana), who’s just returned to India and announces she’s getting married. Sanjay is shocked and, after Ria tells him it’s because he’s in love with Anjali, the not-too-smart lothario flies up north to Dehra Dun to spike the matrimonial.

When Anjali’s b.f., Rohit Khanna (Shergill), finally arrives from the U.S., he turns out to be a straight-arrow charmer who soon has Anjali’s vast family eating out of his hand. After various underhanded attempts to blacken Rohit’s rep, Sanjay openly tells him he’s out to win Anjali for himself — but he isn’t helped when Ria suddenly turns up claiming to be his girlfriend.

Though she’s billed as making only a “special appearance,” Basu is on screen for large chunks of the action, and her initial return, soon after the intermission, helps puts some dramatic lead back into the pic’s pencil. Shergill has developed considerably since his watery turn as Karan in “Mohabbatein,” and ex-model Sanjana — in a jaw-dropping collection of churidar-kurta — makes an impressive debut as Anjali. However, neither they nor the ingratiating Uday Chopra (an acquired taste at the best of times) can hold a candle to Basu in natural screen presence.

The musical numbers, including two family ensemblers, are well staged dramatically, and the title wedding number has a genuinely joyful bounce. A school reunion dance, meant to showcase the four leads together, unfortunately comes over as a poor relation of one in “Mohabbatein,” relying more on flashy cutting than anything else.

Script has an admirable leanness, partly due to the absence of any comic-relief characters (normally a genre staple), and subsidiary roles are colorful without being too overplayed. Tech credits, especially vet Sharmishta Roy’s tastefully extravagant sets, are all smooth. Hindi title (surprise, surprise) means “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai

India

Production

A Yash Raj Films release (in U.K.) of a Yash Raj Films production. Produced by Yash Chopra. Executive producer, Mahen Vakil. Directed by Sanjay Gadhvi. Screenplay, Gadhvi, Maya Puri.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Sunil Patel; editors, V.V. Karnik, R. Soni; background music, Babloo Chakraborty, Anil Mohile, Amar Mohile; song music, Jeet-Pritam; lyrics, Javed Akhtar; art director, Sharmishta Roy; costume designer, Thilaka Paramesh; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital); choreographer, Ahmed Khan; associate producers, Pamela Chopra, Aditya Chopra, Kapil Chopra, Uday Chopra. Reviewed at Warner Village West End 3, London, June 11, 2002. Running time: 158 MIN. (I: 83 MIN.; II: 75 MIN.)

With

With: Uday Chopra, Jimmy Shergill, Sanjana, Bipasha Basu, Alok Nath, Neena Kulkarni, Bindu, Dina Pathak, Saurabh Shukla, Tanaaz Currim, Shamita Shetty. (Hindi dialogue)

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