What does a woman want Sigmund Freud had famously asked. A mousy office drone Surinder Sahini, played by Shah Rukh Khan, asks the same question in Aditya Chopra's new film Rab Ne Bana di Jodi.
Surinder's wife Tani, played by debutant Anushka Sharma, replies that a woman wants a man who loves her more than anything else in the world.
Surinder loves his wife so much that he is willing to transform himself into a fictional character Raj, who is hipper, cooler and most critically, makes Tani laugh. Slowly she finds herself falling in love with her husband in disguise.
In life, this would probably mean years of marriage counseling and therapy but since this is a Yash Raj film, everyone lives happily ever after.
Aaja Nachle, also produced by YRF, had a sub-plot of a painfully boring husband joining the theatre to impress his wife. Aditya, who returns to direction after eight years, has stretched that track into an entire film, except here theatre is replaced by a dance contest.
Rab Ne starts off promisingly. Both Aditya and Shah Rukh have a great affection for Surinder. He is the best-written and best enacted character in the film. Shah Rukh plays him with a loving tenderness. The film is interesting as long as we are watching this super geek who is too timid to even knock twice on his wife's door.
Unfortunately none of the other characters match up. Surinder's alter ego Raj, the loud-but-good-natured Jat, becomes boring after the initial laughs. And Tani herself is a mystery. The film begins with her losing her father and fiancée but she never mentions them again. Tani is willing to leave Surinder but then suddenly, after a visit to the Golden Temple, she starts to see the goodness in her husband. Newcomer Anushka is confident but she isn't sparkling enough to dazzle you so that you can bypass these holes in the character.
The premise of Rab Ne is illogical but even if you are willing to overlook the fact that Tani fails to recognise her own husband because he loses his moustache and gels his hair, the film is a frustrating experience.
Sporadic scenes play out nicely and Shah Rukh Khan works every acting muscle to bring conviction to this story but the overwhelming emotional inconsistency fractures the film.
As events unfold, you are constantly asking: why is this happening. Eventually then, Rab Ne is a disappointment. See it only for Surinder and what Shah Rukh does with him.
Must see our special: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi