Fox Star Studios and Rajshri Productions (P.) Ltd.’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is a family drama. It is the story of a prince, a princess and a commoner.
Yuvraj Vijay Singh (Salman Khan) is a prince who lives in Pritampur. He is engaged to be married to princess Maithili (Sonam Kapoor) of Devgadh, who is a free-spirited girl with her family values intact. Maithili runs an NGO, Uphaar Foundation, which helps the poor. In another town lives Prem (Salman Khan), better known as Prem Dilwala because of his large-heartedness. He and his bosom pal, Kanhaiya (Deepak Dobriyal), act in Ram Leela stage shows. Prem also contributes to Uphaar by collecting money from those who can afford to donate.
Vijay Singh has a step-brother, Ajay Singh (Neil Nitin Mukesh), who was born to his father (Sameer Dharmadhikari) and another woman. Vijay Singh also has two step-sisters, Chandrika (Swara Bhaskar) and Radhika (Aashika Bhatia), from another of his late father’s alliances. Although Vijay Singh cares and loves his step-siblings and wants to stay together with them in peace and harmony, just as his late father had hoped, he is aware that they are against him for different reasons. Ajay Singh resents the fact that as per their late father’s wishes, every bill of his has to be passed by elder brother Vijay Singh. Chandrika and Radhika hate Vijay Singh because they are extremely bitter about the fact that their mother never got to live in the palace and now, they don’t have money to lead the luxurious life being led by Vijay Singh. Since Chandrika is a self-respecting girl, she works in a school in Pritampur to make ends meet.
Preparations are afoot for Vijay Singh’s raj tilak. Maithili is due to attend the same at Pritampur. Prem gets wind of this and sets out for Pritampur with friend Kanhaiya just so that he can personally hand over the donation money to Maithili whom he admires.
Here, in Pritampur, Vijay Singh meets with a life-threatening accident. Although doctors manage to save his life, he is unconscious and it is clear that he would not be up on his feet for his own raj tilak. The royal diwan (Anupam Kher) and the royal chief security officer (Deepraj Rana) are among the few loyalists of the palace who have Vijay Singh and the royal family’s good at heart. They hide the fact about Vijay Singh’s accident from the world as it would create a bad impression on the foreign media and guests from the world over, who are expected to attend the raj tilak ceremony. They don’t intend to even reveal the news of the accident to Maithili.
Seeing the very similar-looking Prem Dilwala in Pritampur, the diwan and the security officer prepare him to pose as Vijay Singh not just in front of Maithili but also before the world till the real Vijay Singh is fine and ready to come in front of the world. Maithili, who has not been happy with Vijay Singh’s ways – probably because Vijay Singh himself has been extremely worked up about the tension in his family – begins to see a marked change in his behaviour and attitude. Of course, that’s because what she is getting to see is Prem’s humane side which she mistakes to be Vijay Singh’s transformation. Maithili now begins to love ‘Vijay Singh’ like never before. On his part, the conscientious Prem is aware of his limits and refrains himself from getting too close to her.
Soon, Prem learns of the tension in the royal family and takes it upon himself to bring the family together again. But as if this itself is not a Herculean task, Vijay Singh is kidnapped by step-brother Ajay Singh.
Will Prem be able to ensure Vijay Singh’s freedom or will Ajay Singh kill his step-brother? Does Maithili get to know that the person she has begun to love is Prem and not Vijay Singh? Does Maithili marry Vijay Singh or Prem? Does the royal family unite and live happily ever after?
Sooraj Barjatya has written a story which may not have great novelty but it, nevertheless, has its heart in the right place. The drama has romance, light moments and superb family emotions. The first half gets a little boring at places as the real drama comes only after interval. But once the second half begins, the film moves like a rocket, consuming the viewers completely for its terrific emotional appeal. The screenplay, also penned by Sooraj Barjatya, is entertaining and engrossing, more for the family audience and the viewers in cities other than the metropolitan cities and for audiences in towns and villages but a bit less for the youngsters. If the light moments bring a smile on the audience’s lips and intermittent laughter too, the emotional scenes shake them and move them to tears. In particular, the following scenes will activate the tear ducts of the viewers for sure: the one in which Prem, posing as Vijay Singh, announces that he was not just giving up his palace for sisters Chandrika and Radhika but has also made them equal partners in all his businesses and co-owners in every single property of his; the scene in which Prem Dilwala advises Vijay Singh to be a good husband; the scene in which Vijay Singh and Prem argue about family as a unit; the one in which the Bhai-dooj festival is celebrated; and, most importantly, the scene in which Prem bursts into tears when the diwan tells him that he had not got married as he never had the time which got consumed in serving the king and his family. It would be appropriate to add here that the angle of Vijay Singh and his step-sisters is the best part of the film, besides the changing attitude of Maithili in her romantic drama. The climax is very touching and also extremely fulfilling. Aash Karan Atal’s dialogues are mind-blowing and many dramatic and serious ones are so profound that they touch the heart and leave an indelible mark on it.
Salman Khan looks like a million bucks in both the roles and acts like he has rarely acted before. The honesty and integrity on his face add so much to the two characters that they force the audience to believe in the drama. To say that he is extraordinary in emotional scenes would not be an exaggeration. His look with fondness when he, as Prem Dilwala, is bidding goodbye to Maithili from the car’s front seat is to die for. In the light scenes, he is just too endearing. All in all, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he carries the film on his shoulders. Sonam Kapoor looks glamorous and acts well. She is especially good in the emotional scene in which she overhears the conversation between Vijay Singh and Prem Dilwala. Neil Nitin Mukesh does an ordinary job and doesn’t really add much to the character of Ajay Singh with his performance. Swara Bhaskar is first-rate, making every scene of hers truly good. Anupam Kher lives the role of the loyal royal diwan. He is very nice. Deepak Dobriyal is cute and has his moments. Aashika Bhatia makes her presence felt as Vijay Singh’s younger step-sister, Radhika. Deepraj Rana is dignified and efficient as the palace security chief. Armaan Kohli is average as the CEO of Vijay Singh and the scheming friend of Ajay Singh. His villainy doesn’t have the venom it needed to have. Samaira Rao, as Vijay Singh’s secretary, is alright. Suhasini Mulay leaves a mark in a very brief role in special appearance. Sameer Dharmadhikari is okay in a special appearance. Lata Saberwal Seth (as Chandrika’s mother), Karuna Pandey (as Maharani), Brijendra Kala, Vishwa Badola, Mukesh Bhatt (as Chhuttan), Gurpal Singh (as Sardarji), Sucheta Khanna (as Sardarni), S.M. Zaheer (as doctor), Mickey Makhija (as the second doctor), master Dhruv Vinay Kumar (as young Vijay Singh), master Darsheel Vinay Kumar (as young Ajay Singh), baby Miraya Suri (as young Chandrika) and baby Hridaan V. Surana (as young Radhika) lend able support.
Sooraj Barjatya’s direction is splendid. He has handled the film with the maturity, understanding and sensitivity needed for such a drama. His honesty is reflected in every single scene of the film. He has extracted great work from out of his hero and has catered completely to the family audience. But in the process, he will lose out on a part of the youth audience which may not be able to identify with a pure character like that of Prem Dilwala and with so much of family drama. It must be added here that the traditional audience, which frequents cinemas once in, say, five or seven years, will find the film made to their liking. Music (Himesh Reshammiya) is good but, again, it caters to the family audience rather than the youth. The title song, of course, is already a major hit and it will soon become the wedding song of the season. ‘Jalte diye’, ‘Jab tum chaho’ and a couple of other songs are melodious. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are truly superb. Shabina Khan’s choreography in the title track is extraordinary. Her choreography of the other songs and the choreography by Radhika Rao-Vinay Sapru in one song and by Ahmed Khan in another song is appropriate. Himesh Reshammiya and Sanjoy Chowdhury’s background music is just too brilliant. V. Manikandan’s camerawork is marvellous. Nitin Chandrakant Desai’s sets are opulent. Action scenes, choreographed by Greg Powell and Kaushal-Moses, are appropriate. Sanjay Sankla’s editing is crisp.
On the whole, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo will be loved by one section of the audience and will not find favour with youngsters initially, but it will, in the final tally, emerge as a comfortable box-office winner for all concerned. It will do huge business at the ticket windows. Despite its high cost (investment of Fox is to the tune of Rs. 235 crore), profits are assured. In fact, the film may go on to earn very well if the ladies audience patronises it in a big way – which is a very big possibility.