Kiara Advani and Kartik Aaryan’s chemistry is palpable and stands out in Sameer Vidwans’s Hindi directorial debut with Satyaprem Ki Katha. Read on for the full review...
Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani in Satyaprem Ki Katha
Satyaprem aka Sattu (Kartik Aaryan) is a good-for-nothing, unemployed, self-confessed virgin simpleton who falls for Katha (Kiara Advani) who’s way out of his league, after meeting her at a garba performance show. A guy like him can only get the girl of his dreams, in his dreams. But as fate would have it, his dream does turn into reality as he eventually gets married to Katha a year later under unusual circumstances (which get revealed later in the film). Little does he know that Katha is harboring a devastating secret from her past which prevents her from consummating the marriage with Sattu. The rest of the film revolves around Sattu’s attempts to win over Katha, help her accept the truth of her past, and embrace the future.
Sameer Vidwans makes his Hindi directorial debut with Satyaprem Ki Katha and chooses to do so with an important story, casts two of the most commercial stars as his leads, adds an impressive bunch of veteran actors in supporting roles, throws in a bit of masala intertwined with social commentary, comic elements (which don’t really land), beautifully shot songs at equally beautiful settings, and ends up delivering an entertaining film which isn’t exactly perfect. It’s clear from the word go that Vidwans intends the film to be a mass entertainer – be it the decision to cast Kartik and Kiara as the leading pair, or the typical song-and-dance routine with which they’re introduced to the audiences for the first time. Which is fine. Who doesn’t want to have a good time at the movies?
The intent of highlighting the importance of consent in a relationship, attempting to take the conversation a bit further than ‘When a woman says no, it means no’, is laudable. It would’ve probably made more sense had this intent not gotten lost in the process of pandering to the expectations of the fans of the leading pair. Having said that, Vidwans does exceed in delivering on his intent for most parts, despite the inclusion of some cringe-worthy dialogues, a few unnecessary scenes, and the length of the film that overstays its welcome. Full marks for attempting something new in a love story and not revealing the plot in its trailer and other promotional material leading up to the film’s release.
While the first half dedicated to the build-up to the marriage of the lead pair is dragged for far too long with lingering, overstretched shots, it is the second half where the film truly manages to surprise you. However, the latter part is not without flaws as well. While the makers take their own sweet time in driving the point home in the beginning, everything seems to have been rushed in the climax. Probably, they suddenly realized that the duration is going out of hand and they were in a hurry to wrap things up.
There are some parts that stick out like a sore thumb. Case in point – a hint of Kartik’s immensely popular “Problem yeh hai ke who ladki hai” monologue which he seems unable to get rid of, even after more than a decade after the release of Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011). More than smiles, this time, it ends up inviting yawns. The inclusion of the recreated version of Pasoori song comes at a juncture that takes away from the novelty of the subject and situation at hand, especially since it plays right after an emotionally draining sequence. While what the makers want to convey with the visuals, kind of works, it is the song that doesn’t quite suit the story being portrayed in the picturization (as we see in the film).
It's a treat to watch Kartik and Kiara on screen together. Their chemistry is quite palpable and stands out in the scenes they share.
Kartik Aaryan’s buffoon-meets-coming-of-age man act is quite likable. There are times when he seems to get a bit overboard in a couple of emotional scenes but he still manages to make it work. He’s earnest as the innocent simpleton who fails his law exam and is desperately waiting to get married and is equally sincere in the emotional scenes where he’s required to do the heavy lifting. Though the script is borderline designed to make him appear as somebody suffering from a major saviour complex, but, as mentioned earlier, Kartik leaves no stone unturned in delivering a commendable performance to make it work!
Kiara Advani is the soul of the film. She gets a more layered and complex character arc to portray where she delivers and how! It won’t be an exaggeration to call it her career-best performance so far. She steals the show in most of the scenes she’s a part of. It also helps that, unlike Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, here she gets a meatier part and the script does allow her to portray her diversity as an actress and shine bright. Kiara is effortless as the performer Katha when we first meet her and is brilliant in scenes that are heavy on emotions. Watch out for the one where the big reveal of the secret happens – truly commendable in terms of the writing, execution, and performance!
Among the supporting cast, Supriya Pathak, Gajraj Rao, and Siddharth Randeria stand out even though they have little to do. In a couple of scenes where they do get the chance, they don’t disappoint. Anooradha Patel and Rajpal Yadav barely have anything to add to the limited scope of their characters. Shikha Talsania as Sattu’s sister doesn’t get enough material to work with. In fact, for a household like that of Sattu - where the gender roles are reversed with the women tasked with earning a living and the men turning homemakers - there was immense potential for a better character arc for Shikha.
Charu Sree Roy’s editing becomes questionable at times, especially since some scenes could’ve been done away with and the overall length of the film could’ve been easily brought down by 15-20 minutes. Even though it seems dragged, the overall narrative doesn’t disappoint in keeping you glued to the screen. The cinematography by Ayanaka Bose is up to the mark as is evident in the way the film has been shot. Natasha Vora too has nailed the brief in the costume department. Rajat Poddar’s production design is quite commendable as the locations and their treatment too seem pretty fresh and pleasing to the eye. Karan Shrikant Sharma’s writing sometimes misses, but mostly hits the mark.
Satyaprem Ki Katha has too many songs which mostly work as distractions in the overall narrative. We understand that the film is labeled as a musical but in order to justify that label, there should be outstanding songs that become the flavour of the season. Except for Aaj Ke Baad, which is quite mellifluous and stands out, all the others are quite forgettable. They’re all beautifully shot though, with Kiara and Kartik nailing their hook steps together.
Despite its flaws, Satyaprem Ki Katha is a great attempt at bringing a mature love story that has its heart in the right place. Apart from top-notch performances from Kartik and Kiara, It has an important social commentary and message that doesn’t become too preachy to digest – for that alone, give this one a dekho.
(All images, unless mentioned otherwise, via YouTube/Screengrab)