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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Satyaprem Ki Katha Review: ‘Infotainment’ Genre Continues In Hindi Cinema

Satyaprem Ki Katha has all eyes fixed on it. After the disrespectful debacle of Adipurush, several expectations are resting on this Sameer Vidwans film, produced by Nadiadwala Grandsons and Namah Pictures. Finally hitting cinema screens on 29th June 2023.

Satyaprem aka Sattu (Kartik Aaryan) is a goofy, good-hearted, good-for-nothing boy in his early to mid-thirties who is eager to marry Katha (Kiara Advani) but is also aware that the girl is way out of his league. She is the daughter of a well-known businessman. Sattu’s dreams unexpectedly come true when Katha’s parents come over to his house and ask for Sattu’s hand in marriage. From here on starts Sattu trysts to get Katha to fall in love with him and how in order to keep his marriage, he ends up discovering himself and proves to be a worthy husband.

Having helmed powerful gender-equality stories in the past like Anandi Gopal, Vidwans once again adapts this theme in Satyaprem Ki Katha. The simplicity trademark as a director is heightened a lot due to commercialism but yet manages to maintain the joie-de-vivre of his stories. One particular scene here is Katha standing in the middle of multiple mirrors. Her reflection symbolises an awakening of sorts. There are some effective sequences like this which beautifully project the characters’ internal conflicts. There is a sense of hope and progressiveness here too. Compared to the promos, this is more than a romantic comedy. This begins like a 90s Hindi potboiler. There are certain body-shaming gags and misogynistic lines. However, as the movie progresses, the intention behind such regressive tropes is explained… Much later.

The screenplay is packed with such cinematic elements that the humour fades. This gives a frivolous feel to the story where the writing is reliant on paper-thin material. In fact, there are characters named ‘Diwali’ and ‘Christmas’ that sound very Farhad Samji-esque cringe. As a result, the pace slows down too. I do feel though that the initial treatment of serious topics like mental health is rushed and not woven into the narrative smoothly. This approach perhaps reminds one of Aanand L Rai’s Raksha Bandhan. Though here, once the main crux is addressed in the second half, it manages to maintain the seriousness in a sensitive and palatable fashion.

Vidwans beautifully encompasses the Ahmedabad city. Shots of the Atal Bridge and Adalaj Ni Vav pay a stunning homage to the thriving city. But it is still unclear as to why the director has specifically decided to set Gujarat as a backdrop. Also, the lack of authenticity does not help its case either. Whilst certain phrases are thrown into the picture, there seems to be a disconnect between the cultural milieu and the director’s vision. A romantic story of this nature deserved a better musical score. But the album here does not have much recall factor and is situational at best. That’s the other ‘Pasoori’ here.

When it comes to the performances, all cast members put their best foot forward. Kartik Aaryan is extremely charming as Sattu. His eyes are endearing and succeed majorly in portraying a compassionate husband. After a while, I’ve seen Aaryan in his element and he does a marvellous job. Especially in the emotional sequence, his intensity is strong. The discovery here and the most impressionable artiste here, Kiara Advani. She looks stunning and carries this mature role with sensitivity. Advani packs a punch during the breakdown scenes and delivers them with conviction. Both share a beautiful chemistry, and that is what truly elevates this product. Worth a watch for them.

Both protagonists are excellently supported by the supporting cast. Gajraj Rao, Supriya Pathak Kapur and Shikha Talsania. Whilst they all do a good job as actors, the character writing seems half-baked in their case. Rajpal Yadav, in a special appearance, is humorous. Siddharth Randeria, who is a celebrated and very experienced artist in Gujarati cinema, is seen in a brief role. I hope that Hindi films in future can also do justice to his calibre.

Overall, whilst Satyaprem Ki Katha has many flaws, the film manages to redeem itself in the engaging and soul-stirring second half. Even though lacklustre writing plays spoilsport, it is nonetheless great to see the ‘infotainment’ genre gain more traction in Bollywood. Also, deserves appreciation for Kartik and Kiara’s heartfelt chemistry. Advani delivers a milestone performance. Worth a watch!

⭐⭐⭐.5/5 (3.5/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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