If you are a fan of The Man, chances are that you liked the person who locked
himself up in a room with goons so they wouldn't run away, or the person
who nonchalantly sipped tea as his best friend threatened suicide to a village,
or the person who 'confessed' that he was going to murder 3 individuals.
That man was a legend, but what'll live on are strictly those movies. Bollywood
hasn't demonstrated any marked propensity to offer legendary roles to legends
that have aged, stating that Indian audiences have such-and-such tastes. So, if
you are a fan of The Man, Ek Rishta will be another dose of bad medicine necessary
to bring you to the real world out here. A world in which acting legends nearly
always become have-beens by the time their skin shows folds in it.
Bad timing specifically contributes to the value (or the lack of it) of Ek Rishta
to the market. There might have been a time when family dramas sold like hot cakes,
but when people are just starting to thank their stars that the Hum Aapke Hai
Kaun era finally appears to be bidding them goodbye, if they get a full-blown
family melodrama with a multi-star cast and the Big B himself heading the list,
then you know that Bollywood is going through its worst identity crisis.
To be fair, Ek Rishta is not a bad movie. It certainly ranks high above the sugery stuff mentioned before. But the clichés in the movie are so... well, clichéd, and the story so predictable, you feel the need for some extra breathing space. And the film is really long.
Vijay Kapoor (Amitabh Bachchan - see, even the names are predictable) is a self-made rich industrialist, with an ego to match his height. His family consists of wife Pratima (Rakhee), three daughters and a son Ajay (Akshay Kumar). While Ajay is away to study at the US, Rajesh Purohit (Monish Behl) steals his way into the elder Kapoor's heart, not to mention that of his daughter Preeti (Juhi Chawla).
Ajay returns to attend Preeti's and Rajesh's wedding, meets and romances Nisha (Karishma Kapoor), and the family generally has a picnic until one fine day Ajay decides to talk business. Dad, though, does not believe in being king without experiencing lesser joys, and so Ajay ends up working in the factory. A fight with the union leader and a clash in ideologies later, Ajay is ordered out of the house.
Rajesh now sets to work, and quite easily manages to cheat the great Vijay Kumar out of his enormous wealth. Sorrow sets in heavily, and Ajay, now married to Nisha, returns to his family and father. The rest of the story goes exactly as you expect it to, and conveys the message (though unintentionally, I'm sure) that violence is the answer to most, if not all, problems.
Apart from a few wasted scenes, Ek Rishta is a well-made movie. Despite an ordinary role, Amitabh Bachchan is at his majestic best, and the rest of the cast does a really good job too. Akshay Kumar's performance comes as a surprise, a very pleasant surprise. The role of a rejected son couldn't have been easy to play, but he manages to lend it a rare dignity, and is close to brilliant in some of the more dramatic scenes.
Towards the end of the movie, Vijay Kapoor tells Rajesh that the story has always
been the same. "Good has always triumphed over evil. How did you think you could
write a different story?" he says. This is Suneel Darshan, writer, producer and
director, probably justifying the staleness of Ek Rishta. The clichés have been
handled well, but they are clichés nonetheless. It is this, and the length, that
make Ek Rishta an average movie.