Engaging leads, high-end production values, wedding preparations, energetic musical numbers and a familiar story should ensure healthy biz for “Mere brother ki dulhan,” a lightweight, unambitious three-way romantic comedy whose utter predictability may be its greatest asset. Events are telegraphed from the outset (even the title, which translates as “My Brother’s Bride,” is a dead giveaway) as our hero, asked by his London-based bro to find him an Indian bride, falls for her himself. Viewers need only wait for the characters to catch up to what auds already know, then sit back and watch them figure out how to pull it off.An assistant film director in Mumbai, Kush (Imran Khan, as charmingly sane and laid-back a hero here as he was in “Dehli Belly”) receives a frantic phone call from his investment-banker brother, Luv (Pakistani “prince of pop” and rising Bollywood star Ali Zafar, excellent here). Luv, who has just dramatically broken up with longtime g.f. Piali (Tara D’Souza) in the pic’s explosive London opener, begs Kush to snag him a bride. Tyro writer-director Ali Abbas Zafar (no relation to his star Ali Zafar) wisely includes a couple of Kush’s loud, drunken co-workers and just enough flashy, strobe-lit Bollywood party footage to reach a saturation point and make Kush’s move back to his traditional upper-middle-class hometown feel welcome. A rapid montage of unappealing potential fiancees, seen alongside their cringe-inducing parents, substitutes for any better-developed comedy until Kush has a brainstorm and resorts to advertising. His placement of a slick matrimonial ad on the back page of a newspaper produces the perfect woman, Dimples Dixit (Katrina Kaif), the daughter of a high-placed diplomat. The only problem is that Kush has already experienced a romantically charged (if unconsummated) encounter with Dimples, played out in flashback against the blatantly symbolic backdrop of the Taj Mahal — an interlude that transpired several years earlier, during Dimples’ incarnation as a high-octane rocker. The generally competent Kaif, equally sexy in all her various wardrobe-appropriate guises, shows the strain of maintaining her wild-and-crazy persona when given nothing zanier to do than get inebriated and dangle her shopping bags in front of Kush’s face while he is trying to navigate an unfamiliar scooter. But believable chemistry finally unites the couple, Dimples’ harebrained impetuousness contrasting nicely with Kush’s carefully considered weighing of options. Helmer-scripter Zafar keeps it simple. Though superficial moral conundrums abound, there is nary a villain in sight to complicate the lovers’ ultimate victory. Indeed, the film even conscripts Dimples’ quasi-autistic brother (Arfeen Kahn) to play Cupid. Tech credits are top-drawer, as befits a Yash Raj production.
A Yash Raj Films release and production. Produced by Aditya Chopra. Executive producer, Aashish Singh. Directed, written by Ali Abbas Zafar.
Camera (color, widescreen), Sudeep Chatterjee; editor, Ritesh Soni; music, Sohail Sen; lyrics, Irshad Kamil; production designer, Shruti Gupte; costume designers, Rocky S., Harmeet Sethi, Neha Bhatnagar; sound (Dolby Digital), Debasish Mishra; line producer, Padam Bhushan; choreographer, Bosco-Caesar. Reviewed at AMC Village 7, New York, Sept. 9, 2011. Running time: 140 MIN. (I: 73 MIN.; II: 67 MIN.)
Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ali Zafar, Tara D'Souza, Kanwaljit Singh, Parikishat Sahni, Arfeen Kahn. (Hindi, English dialogue)