In a scene in director Vidhi Kasliwal’s Isi Life Mein, the film’s male lead Vivaan (played by newcomer Akshay Oberoi) is contemplating an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew for an inter-collegiate dramatics competition. A friend points out to him that the play had an “MCP ending”, to which our hero delivers this priceless gem: “No offence Mr Shakespeare Sir, but we’re going to do it our way!”
It’s an ironic dialogue showing up in a film from Rajshri Productions, a banner that could do with a little reinvention of its own.
Isi Life Mein is exactly and precisely what you’d expect from it. Nothing more, unfortunately. There is a squeaky-clean small-town girl who tops her school board exams, but understands there’s no question of further study because she must be married. There’s her father who decides the only skill she must acquire now is cooking. There’s the hip city boy who is drawn to her simple charm. And there’s a clash between tradition and modernity.
This all-too-familiar tale channels Maine Pyar Kiya and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in its core ideology, but doesn’t seem to possess the conviction of either film. There is a tedious predictability to the plot, and the characters are all bland caricatures that mouth clunky lines like: “Tumhare modern peedhi se mujhe yehi ummeed thi!”
Director Vidhi Kasliwal makes a concentrated effort to disguise this movie as more contemporary than previous Rajshri films by throwing in a conversation about sex between the film’s leads, and even offers a female character who uses the f-word liberally. These are mere cosmetic touches, however. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more sanitized chat about sex, and even the bindaas girl with the potty mouth is taught to gargle each time a cuss word slips out.
The film’s female protagonist Rajnandini (I kid you not, that is her name!), played by newcomer Sandeepa Dhar, is a throwback to Bhagyashree’s character Suman in Maine Pyar Kiya, but without the mischievous spunk. Like her, the film too takes itself way too seriously, and therein lies its flaw.
I’m going with two out of five for debutant director Vidhi Kasliwal’s Isi Life Mein. It’s hard to relate to the film’s impossible idealism or it’s one-dimensional leads. Watch it if you’re a sucker for those archaic family melodramas!