Image Courtesy & Copyright of: Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. (www.yashrajfilms.com)
(English: “A Match Made in Heaven” or “A Match Made by God”)
Directed by Aditya Chopra; Produced by Yash Chopra and Aditya Chopra; Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma and Vinay Pathak; Music by Salim-Sulaiman; Released December 2008
(Hindi/Punjabi with English subtitles available on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube and Google Play)
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (RNBDJ) is a musical Bollywood romantic comedy about a couple that “falls into a marriage” first rather than “falling in love.”
The movie was released in 2008 and I have watched it many times. (Yes, I confess I am a hopeless romantic!) Recently my teenage son saw it with me and even he was impressed. For those of us who are parents of teenagers, we know that means A LOT!
The protagonist Suri, a shy, middle-aged man (portrayed by Shah Rukh Khan) first meets the younger, lively and outgoing Taani (played by then 20-year old Bollywood newcomer Anushka Sharma) in the midst of her wedding preparations. Suri is immediately captivated by Taani’s charm and beauty and especially her lively, vivacious energy. Suri himself is a reserved, introverted man leading a very ordinary life working at a local electric company. He attends the wedding upon invitation of Taani’s father who is his former professor and teacher. The two men share a special bond of mutual respect and admiration.
On the eve of the wedding, Taani and her dad learn shocking news that her fiancé has been killed in a car accident on his way to the wedding. Taani’s dad suffers a massive heart attack after learning this news. On his deathbed, he requests that Taani and Suri marry because he does not want to die leaving her alone in the world. Taani and Suri agree to the marriage and shortly after Taani’s dad dies.
Yes, the premise of the marriage is very typical of Bollywood and not something we would encounter in America! But even today arranged marriages continue to be the norm in India.
After their wedding, Suri brings Taani back to his home. From the get-go, the two have very little in common, with major differences in age, life experience, life expectations and personality traits. In addition, while Suri feels the spark of love for Taani from the start, he lacks the confidence to profess his love. Taani on the other hand is grappling with her own feelings of depression, loss, and a deep doubt if she ever can truly love again.
The real movie begins from this point as the couple embark together and separately on an odyssey in search for love, and encounter all their defenses to the experience of love. The Course teaches that love cannot be taught but we can learn about the “blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is (our) natural inheritance.”1 Suri and Taani’s marriage begins from a place of compromise and resignation- a “pseudo-surrender” to external circumstances yet their transformative journey delivers them to a place where each arrives at an authentic experience of Love, which always must be found within before it can be seen outside of us.
For those well versed in the teachings of the Course, this is a great movie that speaks to how the search for a ‘special’ love can prevent us from seeing the ‘holy’ love that is present right in front of us. The movie also illustrates that the relationships that are ‘given’ to us often are the ones that truly heal and make us whole rather than the ones we fantasize about ourselves. The writer/director did a wonderful job of weaving into the storyline the backdrop of the Golden Temple in Punjab- which beautifully symbolizes the Presence of a Higher Power that both characters open to and which is key to their healing. As any typical Bollywood movie, RNBDJ is a masala (mixture) of drama, romance, as well as comedy so that message of the movie is delivered in an overall light-hearted way.
After all is said and done, long after a musical Bollywood movie is over, it is the songs that continue to live in our consciousness. Gulzar, a renowned veteran Indian poet, lyricist and film director says that songs are eternal, timeless and that they never grow old. So is the case with the songs from this movie – some simply entertaining while other invoke within the viewer a deep sense of peace and reverence.
In the words of one of the movie’s most popular songs, may this the movie haule, haule (slowly, softly, sweetly) dissolve your own defenses to the presence of Love!
May you enjoy this movie as much as I did!
1 A Course in Miracles (Introduction)