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Befikre trailer with Ranveer-Vaani: The devolution of YRF romances since DDLJ

India Today logo India Today 13/10/2016

There's a scene in Aditya Chopra's 1995 blockbuster Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, where Kajol wakes up in Shah Rukh Khan's bed after an evening of heavy drinking. Shah Rukh walks in with the morning tea and Kajol has plenty of questions to which Shah Rukh simply replies saying that they did it. Kajol goes hysterical in denial mode, and starts sobbing. 

That's when Shah Rukh delivers the line which has gone on to become almost legendary for well-behaved 'Hindustani' men, "Main ek Hindustani hoon. Aur main jaanta hoon ek Hindustani ladki ki izzat kya hoti hai." Kajol then begs him to not 'joke like this' otherwise 'she would have done something'.

That was 1995. Cut to 2016. We have a Ranveer Singh dancing around in a red thong and a cowboy hat. How have times changed! But have things gotten better in the last two decades?

Director Aditya Chopra has tempered his understanding of the Indian audiences over the years, trying to cater to what they want to see. So where Babuji was of utmost importance and there was the melodramatic climax, DDLJ still had those nuggets of beautiful moments of SRK helping Kajol on to the train that went on to become iconic. Befikre, on the other hand, seems loud in every respect. Loud colours, wannabe dares (slap a cop, make-out in a hoodless car) because they 'dare to love fearlessly' as the poster claims. The lead characters are cheerful to the point of being annoying. However, this has been a decade-and-a-half in making. 

A newly liberalised India meant that the influence of MTV had only about begun. So kids were hanging out at pizza outlets, eating with a fork and knife. There was a need to talk to the McDonald's servers in English. And the perfect embodiment of this generation happens to be Yash Chopra's Dil Toh Pagal Hai. So even if the audience had the momentary hawww moment seeing Shah Rukh Khan walking into Karisma Kapoor's room while she is dressing - the film reveals itself when Shah Rukh sells something dubious to a room full of people. He says, if Valentine's Day (a day invented by greeting card companies and gift shops) and the full moon (a monthly event) coincide, then that's the day you meet your soulmate. And the audience totally bought it, citing source: Shah Rukh Khan of the late 90s, the Deepak Chopra of romance. Obviously who would even verify that!

Then came Aditya Chopra's Mohabbatein, which basically showed a man landing a teaching job at the country's best school without a background check. As it is revealed later, the man was thrown out of the same school for falling in love with the Dean's daughter. The daughter kills herself and the man comes back to avenge her death from her father by 'inspiring' his students to go after the women they love. A fairly idealistic version of love, even as the ladies began sporting attire with deeper neck-lines. Mohabbatein was the kind of movie where the leading ladies danced around in low necklines and *hugged* as a gesture of affection.

Next was the daft Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi showing Shah Rukh Khan overdoing his Punjabi accent and married to a half-wit half his age, Anushka Sharma. The girl is understandably naive (because she is from a small town, according to YRF), but on which planet can you not tell your husband from a stranger, the difference being only that of a moustache?! This movie was again directed towards the parents who grew up on Chopra romances, keeping it clean and Rab-like.

Father Yash Chopra, in his last directorial venture Jab Tak Hai Jaan still showed signs of pragmatism where Shah Rukh Khan made out with Katrina Kaif inside a phone-booth as it rained in London. So what if the hero had the same kind of accident twice? Once to lose his lover and then again to lose his memory?

Now with Befikre, Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor are shedding all inhibitions and clothes to declare their adoration for each other. Nothing wrong with it, but Aditya Chopra seems to be trying too hard to live up to the 'Befikre' tag. So much so, that he too seems to have gone befikre (carefree) while making the film.

Over the last few years, that has been the case with the Chopras' version of romance. For if there is one thing films like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Jab Tak Hai Jaan reveal, it is that the Kings of Romance are losing their charm.

Maybe Befikre should take a cue from its leading man, who is so unabashedly boisterous and adorable without even having to try. A few comparisons have been made with Yash Raj's 2005 misfire Neal 'n' Nikki. At least Befikre has two more likeable leads working for them, as compared to Uday Chopra (LOL!) and Tanisha Mukherji (Who?). Only time will tell if this one goes on to have the same fate as Neal 'n' Nikki. We'll find out on December 9.

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