A big fat NRI wedding. A good-looking hero. A ‘sorted’ heroine. A poet dad. An entrepreneur mom. A jugaadu brother. A street-smart sidekick. A perfect family with dark secret. Sounds like an interesting film, isn’t it? Well, so did the trailer, if only the film Shubh Aarambh could do justice to these ingredients that could have made for one of the finest Gujarati films we have seen.
Bharat Chawda plays Shubh (Hence the title), the hero. Deeksha Joshi plays the ‘sorted heroine’. Harsh Chhaya plays the poet dad. Prachee Shah Pandya plays the entrepreneur mom. The ‘Dhula’ from ‘Chello Divas’ i.e. Aarjav Trivedi plays the jugaadu brother. And Sanjay Galsar plays Imran, the street-smart sidekick, who is quite a revelation here.
Having introduced to these key characters, apart from the typical worrying-sobbing-wondering-blabbering parents of the heroine, let’s proceed with director Amit Barot’s film, Shubharambh, which is perhaps Gujarat’s first NRI wedding film. The film begins on an upbeat note and the first half promises you the moon.
By the time when you are back with your popcorn and colas, wondering what the director would have in the offing, you are in for some ill-placed melodrama, tackily shot sequences. At the risk of sounding too finicky about the technical aspects of the film, I would assert that the entire camera work of Shubh Aarambh seems like a rushed job. For instance, the night sequences are an eyesore despite those amateur attempts at bokeh shots. The grainy shots are hard to ignore. It might have worked for a realistic docu-film, but surely not in a wedding-based film which ought to have aesthetic appeal. Some colour-correction wouldn’t have hurt.
The only sincere artists in Shubh Aarambh seem to be Harsh Chhaya and dialogue writer Abhinay Banker. The film’s dialogues, though a tad philosophical for a film of this genre, still make an impact on the audience, especially the ‘communication’ line. One wishes the writer wouldn’t have sprinkled so much poetry in the narrative and practiced some restraint.
Amit Barot’s Shubh Aarambh is way too verbose for a feature film. It seems as if the director doesn’t believe in the power of visuals. Everything is clearly spelt out in each frame, as to what the character is thinking. Wish the makers could respect the audience’s intelligence and left things subtler.
Speaking of performances, Harsh Chhaya is first-rate. He essays his role of Anupam to perfection and understands the importance of cinematic pauses and uses his eyes (despite the trademark glasses) to his advantage. This gem of an actor surely deserves much more of such meaty characters to portray. The character of Hardik aka ‘Laalo’, too remains unexplored.
With the bars (No pun intended) for Gujarati films already raised by films like ‘Kevi Rite Jaish’ and the recent ‘Wrong Side Raju’, Shubh Aaram doesn’t take the mantle any further, in spite of a potent germ of an idea. Shubh Aarambh isn’t a good aarambh for Gujarati films this year.