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♫ jaagate raho, hatheli khulne lagi, ki raaat ab udne lagi, kahaniyon ki shaam to chale 
5th-Jul-2011 03:58 am
Title: Just Married
Year: 2007
Director: Meghna Gulzar
Cinematography: Sachin Kumar
Actors: Fardeen Khan, Esha Deol, Mukul Dev, Sadia Siddiqui, Satish Shah, Kirron Kher, Eijaz Khan
Music: Pritam Chakraborty
Lyrics: Gulzar
Costume: Pooja Sarin, Theia Bomanbehram, Shaahid Aamir

What is most memorable about Just Married is how awkward it is. The movie depicts the embarrassment and bewilderment that many newly married couples in India face with painful honesty. It explores how Abhay and Ritika, two strangers in an arranged marriage, try to work on building a relationship on their honeymoon in Ooty. During their honeymoon they meet other couples, in various stages of their relationship, each with their own stories and challenges to overcome. Over the course of the movie these couples become friends and help each other understand their relationships better. Unfortunately for Just Married, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., which also released in 2007, had a similar concept and was a much better movie. Where Just Married sometimes veers towards being unsubtle and preachy, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. was more deftly executed. Just Married is still worth a dekho though for its sensitive portrayal of Abhay and Ritika's acute sense of anxiety, their uncertain expectations of each other, their attempts at trying to connect with each other, their misunderstandings and their frayed feelings.

The movie relies heavily on the audience being able to empathise with Abhay and Ritika, despite the blunders they sometimes make. Fardeen Khan and Esha Deol, neither of them particularly well known for their good acting, do surprisingly well here. Fardeen easily slips into the character of the accommodating, good humoured and honest Abhay. When Abhay grows distant and defensive Fardeen does an equally adequate job of portraying why he feels hurt and confused. Abhay was always more at ease and relaxed than Ritika during their honeymoon but we are reminded that all this is as new to him as it is to her. Esha's depiction of the bride who is unsure about her marriage and is not ready to be physically intimate with her husband is sincere and sympathetic. Though Ritika was shown as a confident person before her marriage she feels uncertain and shy with Abhay because she doesn't know him well enough and feels anxious about the implicit expectations about what a honeymoon entails. Ritika's lack of communication about what she feels and thinks never gets annoying thanks to Esha's vulnerable performance. Her tense body language and the way she always tried to school her expressions were reminders enough about how awkward and out of place this middle class, sheltered girl feels now that she has to share a room, and her life, with a man who is practically a stranger to her.

Luckily, Just Married does not reserve its brilliance for the main couple alone or we'd feel like we were walking on eggshells the entire time. Truth be told, Mukul Dev and Sadia Siddiqui's track was so lovely it deserved its own movie. As Kirron Kher's character observes at one point, "practice tou har shaadi mein lagti hai beta, bachpan se pehchaan ho tou bhi aur dono anjaan ho tab bhi". Shohib and Ananya may not be complete strangers for each other but they don't seem to have much of an advantage over Abhay and Ritika. Shohib has a hard time adjusting to their new relationship because for him Ananya was always just his younger sister's friend who used to walk around in frocks and play with dolls. Ananya on the other hand has always been in love with Shohib but doesn't know how she can help him change his perception and see her in a new light. Their scenes were the highlight of the movie for me. Mukul Dev was endearing as the clueless Shohib who feels a bit at sea about how to treat Ananya now that they are married. Sadia was adorable as the cheeky Ananya who doesn't mind being the one who always has to take the first step in the relationship. The "bhai jaan" scene, the anecdote about Shohib and Ananya's engagement and the cricket watching sequence (but really every scene they were in) are among my favourites from this movie. Another fun aspect of the movie was Satish Shah and Kirron Kher as the cantankerous old couple celebrating their 40 year anniversary.

The strength of Just Married lies in its characterisation, especially of Abhay, Ritika, Shohib and Ananya.  The pace of the movie is leisurely, its emotions innately genuine and its drama understated. The setting in Ooty is perfect as an other-world away from the real world, where the couples have space and scenery aplenty to discover each other or celebrate their relationship. The cinematography and the music complement the sometimes optimistic, sometimes muted tone of the movie. The only thing out of place was the climax - it felt jarring and a rude intrusion on the, thus far, realistic and very unfilmi journey that we were on. If only the conclusion of the tale was as believable and mature as the rest of the story! Nevertheless, if you are after something mellow to watch on a cold winter afternoon you could do a lot worse than making yourself a hot cup of coffee, curling in a blanket, and popping this movie in your DVD Player.

BW | JWM | sikhdi hoon main Bhatinda ki
5th-Jul-2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
Firstly, what a beautifully written review! I'm blown away! Why haven't I read your work earlier is beyond me and so I shall curse my ignorance. Secondly, absolutely loved the review and whole heartedly agree. Its a shame the film went unnoticed because it wasn't definitely not deserving of that.
6th-Jul-2011 03:27 am (UTC)
Awww thank you :)

I am so glad someone else has seen this movie! It was coming on TV one day and I only meant to check out a few scenes till I got bored... but I never did. Right from the irony of Abhay and Ritika getting married soon after proclaiming that they couldn't see how their friends agreed so easily to an arranged marriage to that stupid climax where the conductor and driver are on the top of the bus and asking everyone if they can get down now - I thought it was a wonderful journey.

I hope someone else decides to give this movie a chance. Jaagte Raho is still stuck in my head days later.
6th-Jul-2011 05:29 am (UTC)
Haha..I watched the film from the get going as it was a PNC offering and I stalk their movies. Also I think Fardeen and Esha are extremely underrated. The soundtrack is mind-blowing, I remember listening to them prior the release of the movie even and loving them even more when I saw them onscreen. I wish more families watched this movie. I don't understand how people can be intimate with a total stranger after marriage and even have a kid within months of getting married! I was so glad to see characters that shared this same fear and worry that I always have for arranged couples. Perhaps the new generation will think like me....but then I also know of young ones who've married strangers and popped out a kid within no time! Beyond my contemplation powers!
7th-Jul-2011 01:23 am (UTC)
Also I think Fardeen and Esha are extremely underrated.
I can see that now!

The soundtrack is mind-blowing
Seriously, love love love the soundtrack. Absolutely delightful.

I think this is one of the very few movies that did not romanticise arranged marriages. I happen to love those tracks (I watch serials so ofcourse I do!) but it was refreshing to see the subject being explored with honesty.

Personally I have no problems with arranged marriages as long as there is no coercion, the groom and bride have had time to understand each other before the marriage, and there's no zor zabardasti dahej type stuff going on. I know heaps of young people who have had arranged marriages and are very happy with their spouse and heaps of those who have had love marriages and feel the same. So mere hisaab se whatever works for you, as long as you ain't hurting anyone! But yes I do think that we haven't really seen enough sincere portrayals about how awkward it must be for the people in an arranged marriage initially.
6th-Jul-2011 04:54 am (UTC) - Shararati sharmaji
Now I have to find this one again! I remember it, at least the bits you describe, - the convincing awkwardness of Esha & Fardeen, etc. but I can't remember THE END! So thank you very much for doing such a horribly good job of this review that I'm left with a nagging need to track this one down again just to be reminded of what went wrong. Grrr!
6th-Jul-2011 10:59 pm (UTC) - So tou hoon
That's because they ruined it and you were so traumatised you blanked it out of your memory :P

Do you want me to just tell you lol? I'm all for checking out the movie again but hardly for the climax!

Heh I should have known that you'd have seen this movie already. I'm glad I saw a good Esha movie.
7th-Jul-2011 07:34 am (UTC) - Re: So tou hoon
That might be a plan - tell me the end and save me from myself. :)
7th-Jul-2011 09:32 am (UTC) - Re: So tou hoon
Here goes:

Abhay is still mad at Ritika because he doesn't think she has accepted him as her husband wholeheartedly. Ritika wants to talk to him but when everyone gets on the bus to go back he chooses to sit with that guy that is now a loner because the woman who he was having an affair with left him. When Ritika gets on the bus Abhay pretends to console Affair wala guy (that was hilarious). Both spend the bus ride apart from each other but then (and here's comes the ludicrous bit) the bus somewhere swerves and ends up half hanging off a cliff. Everyone is frightened but Abhay tells some of the passengers to slowly move to the front of the bus. He asks the driver and conductor to go to the top of the bus and move the luggage to the front of the bus also. In the end only Kirron Kher and Satish Shah are left along with Abhay and the problem is the KK is too scared to move. Then Ritika gets back on the bus and moves towards the back to talk to KK and hug Abhay etc. We have a really drawn out sequence where Abhay tries to convince KK to make a move and eventually they all get off safely. And then the driver and the conductor ask if they can get off the bus now.

I'm not even gonna comment on how many things were wrong with the way Abhay and the passengers handled the whole thing.

Then Abhay and Ritika decide to go back to the lodge.
7th-Jul-2011 09:44 am (UTC) - Re: So tou hoon
Ah yes, now I remember that drawn out farce. You're right - completely out of keeping with the rest of the film. Thanks for sparing me!
7th-Jul-2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
Heh, no worries!
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