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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars After the engagement, the courtship begins...
So, just this once, toss those hip modern values out the window along with that bathwater. This movie is VIVAH, and it unabashedly hearkens back to India's more traditional conventions, and specifically that of the arranged marriage. Released in 2006 VIVAH tells the story of two young people, Prem and Poonam, strangers to one another yet destined to be wedded. So it'd be...
Published on April 5, 2008 by H. Bala

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting glimpse into traditional Indian values
I'm a caucasian of European descent, and I know next to nothing about Indian culture. Having grown up as a typical California girl, therefore, many things in this movie made me raise my elegant blonde eyebrows extremely high, while some subtle Indian cultural references (such as dark skin being considered ugly, or a bride with scars on her body being considered such...
Published 6 months ago by deborah


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars After the engagement, the courtship begins..., April 5, 2008
By 
H. Bala "Me Too Can Read" (Recently moved back to Carson, California, or as I call it... the center of the universe) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Vivah (DVD)
So, just this once, toss those hip modern values out the window along with that bathwater. This movie is VIVAH, and it unabashedly hearkens back to India's more traditional conventions, and specifically that of the arranged marriage. Released in 2006 VIVAH tells the story of two young people, Prem and Poonam, strangers to one another yet destined to be wedded. So it'd be nice if they like each other.

Poonam (Amrita Rao) is an orphaned girl from the small town of Madhupur, who was raised in her uncle's household. She is beautiful and demure and brought up to be obedient and traditional. Despite this, her aunt dislikes her intensely, simply because Poonam is far prettier than her own daughter, never mind that Poonam and her daughter get along very well. Poonam has tried to make the best of it, basking in the love lavished on her by her doting uncle and cousin. But, all her life, she's longed for a mother's affection...

Prem (Shahid Kapoor) is the youngest son of an industrial magnate in Delhi. Carefree and just about to settle into his career, Prem is very surprised and unprepared when his father proposes an arranged marriage for him. Yet Prem is respectful enough to at least meet his potential bride, an act which proves fatal to his bachelorhood. Instantly charmed by Poonam, Prem promptly gives the nod to the marriage contract. As for Poonam, it's hard to tell what she's really thinking because she's so damned demure, but she seems to reciprocate Prem's interest. So the contract is finalized, friendships are struck, a romance is fostered, and the nuptials set to take place in six months' time.

As the following weeks and months elapse and the families get better acquainted, Poonam and Prem continue to get ever closer, until that old familiar happens: Poonam and Prem fall in love. And, suddenly, the big day can't come soon enough. But complications surface. Poonam's aunt still bears her a deep jealous resentment and, so, what should have been an idyllic time for Poonam is sabotaged by her aunt's venomous snipings at her uncle, over his extravagant financing of the wedding and over his seeming disregard for his own daughter's future prospects. Then, on the eve of the wedding, a life-threatening tragedy unfolds, and Poonam and Prem and their families will be tested as never before.

Even in Bollywood cinema, the idea of the arranged marriage has taken its share of negative hits. So, every once in a while, for balance's sake, it's nice to see a film which espouses the positives of this age-old institution. I don't necessarily agree with it as I'm more with the free choice side of the fence. But it's nice to hear from the other point of view. And, more importantly, while not a classic, I do think VIVAH is a movie worth watching. It certainly did well enough at India's box office.

Granted, not much of a plot here in VIVAH. Basically, the film is built on simple moments as it tracks the progression of the arranged marriage, from the contractual conception to the courtship to the consummation of the marriage ceremony. Nothing gossip-worthy happens, and, other than the virulent aunt, all is easy-peasy until the last thirty minutes when the tragic twist surfaces. Sadly, the musical interludes are lackluster. And the sedate pacing and lack of narrative punch might've turned me off, except that the superb cast managed to keep me involved. These characters are likable enough (except for the aunt) that you even get immersed in the slow scenes. VIVAH applies a huge chunk of the running time in developing Poonam and Prem's blossoming relationship, as they overcome their mutual shyness and awkwardness and begin to fall for each other. Theirs isn't a raging romance. Their subdued personalities don't lend too much to fiery, over-the-top demonstrations, although there is a moment when Prem shouts "I love you!" in an airport. Rather, theirs is a connection arrived at by achieving a certain mutual comfort level and by clinging to a commitment to and a respect for traditional culture and customs. But, also, that they're both very attractive people probably didn't hurt any.

Again, the glue of VIVAH is the cast. The two young leads, Shahid Kapoor and the ravishing Amrita Rao, turn in sensitive, if bland, performances. The supporting actors turn out to be as equally important. Particularly great are Anupam Kher and Alok Nath, who respectively play Prem's wealthy but grounded father and Poonam's loving uncle and surrogate father. And the fact that you end up hating on Poonam's dour-faced aunt is, of course, a reflection of Seema Biswas's very good acting skills.

For those with the 2-dvd set, the first disc has the film and song selections. The second disc contains the 19-minute-long "Making of the Film" featurette (average) and the 21-minute-long "Making of the Music" (dull).

Graced with a gentle, low key charm and a heartwarming simplicity, the waterworks really come on in the tense and emotional last half hour (Grab your hanky). And yet VIVAH may prove to be too Pollyanna for some. Are arranged marriages really this wonderful? Does love really come after marriage? Well, no, and sometimes. VIVAH is a celebration of this institution and is, for all purposes, a Bollywood fairy tale, an idealization of arranged matrimony. As such, it's about as real and convincing as, well, as a Bollywood motion picture. Would that all arranged marriages work as well as this one did.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story about love on many levels, August 28, 2008
By 
S. Haynes (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vivah (DVD)
The main story focuses on the growing relationship between the main characters, but the relationships between the main characters and other members of the family as well as the two families, form a core part of the story development. All the characters were great in their roles, particularly the main characters. There is a lot of subtlety in expression and body language that's wonderfully expressive. The music fit very nicely. It's a long movie and it would be hard for me to cut anything. Definitely have a hanky for a rough patch. Very sweet treat without crossing the line to syrupy. I can't bring myself to subtract from the rating for it, but I do wish the "extras" DVD contained deleted scenes.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cherry on top of an Awesome sundae, June 16, 2010
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This review is from: Vivah (DVD)
I firs caught this movie on YouTube, and I instantly fell in love with it. It shows how true love could and should be,unconditionally supportive and caring. Some people may say that it is too "fluffy, sweet" but isn't that what we crave after maybe s bad day or week.This movie in my opinion is an instant remedy for a bad day,week, month, bad anything. period the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must See, October 5, 2009
By 
This review is from: Vivah (DVD)
A beautiful orphan named Poonam (played by Amrita Rao) is despised by the jealous aunt who raised her, but in this Cinderella story, her ugly cousin loves her like a sister and her kind uncle finds her a Prince Charming to marry. Prem (Shahid Kapoor) is the handsome son of a wealthy industrialist and he's dragging his feet about marriage--until the sight of Poonam rocks him back on his heels. Arranged marriage is very foreign to most Americans, but when seen from the perspective of the parties involved, it doesn't seem so strange. The couple decides after one meeting (with their families)--during which sparks fly--that they want to marry. Talk about speed dating! But it's surprisingly romantic. As the families prepare for the wedding and the couple embarks on a sweet post-engagement courtship, there's little conflict in the story, but with all the delicious tension between the two lead characters, who are going to burst if they don't get their hands on each other, who cares? And when conflict finally comes two-thirds of the way through the film, putting their love to the test, it's a doozy. - The Bollywood Ticket: The American guide to Indian movies (Subscribe: The Bollywood Ticket)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will make you cry like Toy Story 3, May 13, 2012
By 
Nikki (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Vivah (DVD)
Vivah is stuffed with sincerity, warmth, and family values in a good way. It's the most mellow Hindi movie I've ever seen and still managed to make me ugly-cry for like 5 minutes. Why? The lead couple, Prem and Poonam, are supportive, respectful, and deeply in love. And when the big bad happens I felt enormous relief at the unconditional love. Hence, my stuffed nose. So, throw away your cynicism, which is always necessary with bollywood movies anyways, and prepare to be softened by this lovely little (2 hr 49min) movie. Also, Shahid Kapoor is criminally cute as always :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivah, October 3, 2012
By 
M. DeMarks (Osprey Fl USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vivah (Amazon Instant Video)
This is a beautiful story of how two people fall in love during the time between their engagement and marriage. There is a lot of Hindi religous symbolism but that is the culture. It is a very clean, moral and beautiful story. It is what good people aspire to in a loving arrangement. The actors are wonderfully cast and Amrita Rao and Shahid Kapoor are naturally convincing in their roles. I have to admit I've never seen Shahid Kapoor fail at being convincing and he again lives up to my expectations. It is a must see with a box of tissues(yes even the men will need them). Don't think this is just a chick flick. There are some awsome lessons about true manhood in this picture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practically Perfect In Every Way, April 9, 2013
This review is from: Vivah (Amazon Instant Video)
Forgive the Mary Poppins moment but I can think of no higher compliment for this movie. Just know that I watched this on Amazon Instant Video so I can't vouch for the quality of a DVD. I can highly recommend it without even one instant of hesitation. If you're looking for a clean, genuine love story that the entire family can enjoy and learn from this is IT! I laughed and cried so hard I thought I'd hyperventilate. Truly this is one of the finest Bollywood films I've seen to-date. Like most Bollywood movies the subject is marriage and the trials and joys that come with family. What makes this movie special is that it presents its ideals not just as mere entertainment but blatantly lets its audience know, "This might not be the way things ARE, but this is how they SHOULD BE!" All I can say is that I heartily concur!

Poonam is an extraordinarily beautiful girl whose been brought up in her Uncle's home as his own child after her parents tragic deaths. Adored by her uncle and younger cousin, she has a happy life in all ways but one. Her aunt can't stand the sight of her! Now I think it's vitally important that my fellow Western viewers have a bit of background to understand the cultural divergences here with this particular plot-point, so please forgive the spoilers but they are necessary. In India, standards of beauty vary a great deal from the most common western ones.

When we think of "fair skin" we think of someone like Nicole Kidman, and by-and-large, "fairness" isn't considered the ultimate standard of beauty, especially here in the USA society likes tans, and spends millions of dollars every year on UV tanning beds and bottles of self-tanners. For those who don't want to shell out cash, or be bothered booking an appointment, they lay out in the sun risking skin cancer all the name of the prized bronzed body. Me I got over it years ago, sunburn hurts! And I'm not keen on looking like an oompa-loompa.

In India the lighter your skin-tone the more beautiful you're considered to be. There, bleaching creams (which is really just an ad name for creams that even out skin tone, we have them here too) are prized, and anything no matter how nuts it may sound that promises lighter skin is greedily consumed by masses of people. And why not? People get rejected as possible marriage material, lose out on jobs, and get shafted in all sorts of ways if they're considered "too dark." It's a sad and controversial state of affairs. But really every culture has some sort of beauty nemeses to deal with, whether it's weight, a woman's "assets," or a man's for that matter. But if you don't have a proper understanding of the cultural values here you will miss out on one of the movie's major themes.

Anyway, Poonam is "fair" but her cousin Chhoti is "dark" this causes a bitter hatred to well up in the aunt because she's insanely jealous of the so-called blessings that Poonam seems to have because of her immense beauty. Her hatred blinds her to such an extent that she doesn't see that beauty of face and body is the LAST reason people love her so much. Poonam's true beauty is the beauty of her character and her heart.

As usual, when the daughter's reach a proper age they must be married off, so when a family friend comes on business and the Uncle laments that he can't find a boy worthy of Poonam in their city, the friend immediately replies he knows the perfect family that not only has an upstanding boy, but would welcome her into their family and house without any of the common nightmare scenarios that can accompany marriage in India. So photo is taken and the fun begins...

Prem is what a girl like me would call a bloody miracle! Handsome, Charming, Polite, Well-Educated, Respectful, and *most* importantly, GENUINELY KIND. Let's face it, a kind person is a dying breed in this world, male or female. His dad has been looking at prospective brides for him and after seeing Poonam's picture, he decides that Prem must at least meet her. Prem isn't exactly jumping for joy, (he's afraid he's not ready for marriage) but he's a good boy and after seeing the photo himself he decides not to object.

Well, I'm not going to give the whole thing away, but from then on out it's a beautiful love story that blossoms perfectly. I usually don't mind that Bollywood isn't much for kissing in these family films but I found myself yelling at the TV "OMG kiss him on the cheek at least!" It's such a beautiful relationship that a kiss couldn't possibly be considered cheap or titillating. But no kiss. They don't shy away from desire though, as the story unfolds and the relationship deepens, BOTH the hero and the heroine make no apologies about the passion that develops for each other. HOWEVER, all is kept in it's proper place, and neither has any desire to act in any way that might bring any reproach on themselves, their families, or even their own love for each other. Sadly, such values are nearly dead and gone in this part of the world, and those who try to live by them are mocked and severely ridiculed. I definitely recommend this movie for ANYONE who is trying to live their life in such a way. It's highly encouraging even for old maids like me!

Of course, in Typical Bollywood fare some sort of tragedy must occur to possibly destroy the happy Jodi, but in this case, it leads to such splendid moments of love in action that it took my breath away! I'm not even going to hint at what they are, YOU MUST WATCH! Trust me, it's well worth the time!

Production and direction, Sooraj R. Barjatya has hooked me as an admirer. I like his simplicity, and the fact that he doesn't go for a lot of opulent and lavish trimmings. It wouldn't have fit the story at all, Prem's family is wealthy but there's none of the intimidating grandeur of the Richand's in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... or the glam of the Khanna's in Mujhse Dosti Karoge. Poonam's family is comfortable, but far from wealthy. Still, both families in their respective surroundings create a sense of warmth and closeness that ALL families should have. The director skillfully, uses locations and weaves his story through skillful use of an above average cast. The costumes and makeup are both lovely as well.

Performances, I've been quite a fan of Shahid Kapur for a long time now. I love him in, Dil Bole Hadippa and although some of his movies like "Kismet Konnection," and "Chance Pe Dance" are WAY BELOW par, he is never bad himself. Here he's just lovely. Prem might be all goodness and light, but he's not impractical or naÔve. He has a good head on his shoulders and great humility. If I had to complain about anything it would be he never got a chance to bust out his amazing dancing. He is fantastic in this film.

I've heard of Amitra Rao a lot but this is the first film I've ever seen with her in it. She's lovely, subtle, and a wonderful compliment to her leading man. She definitely disproves the idea that a nice "good girl" is someone boring and without depth. She is far from boring, and although Poonam is shy and rather reserved in her demeanor, Ms. Rao certainly understands that "still waters run deep." While her feelings for Prem develop cautiously, once in full bloom she is just as passionate in her love as he is. Her selflessness never translates into self-righteousness, and her goodness is never something she holds over others. She isn't a good person because others approve of her, she's a good person because she chooses to be one for herself first. The script does a lot here to help keep Poonam likeable, BUT it takes a deft hand when dealing with such a character and Ms. Rao did a splendid job. I'll have to watch more of her films.

Anupam Kher and Alok Nath are superb as Prem and Poonam's respective fathers! I cannot praise each of them enough. I knew I've seen Alok Nath in movies before I just couldn't remember which, and lo' and behold he's in two of my very favorites, Na Tum Jaano Na Hum and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... it's amazing how if you change a mustache the entire face can change.

Seema Biswass is chilling as the Aunt! I wanted her to just be so totally and completely punished for the hatred she showed not only poor Poonam but her husband and Chhoti as well, alas in Bollywood a lot of mercy is shown to most of the negative characters, and I should learn something from it. Still, phenomenal performance! The fact that I loathed and despised her proves that.

Amitra Parakesh plays Chhoti, and despite her mother's despair with her skin, she's a lively, happy, firecracker of a girl, who isn't the least bit self-conscious about her looks, and happily jokes about them. To me she's an exceptionally pretty girl, but that's where the cultural differences come in. She is not even the tiniest bit uncomfortable with her beautiful cousin and older sister. She does however have issues with her mother and rightly so!

Samir Soni is lovely as Prem's older brother. Sunil is a bit of a workaholic but a wonderful husband, father, son and brother. He's also the family's go to crises manager.

Lata Sabharwal, plays the greatest sister-in-law in the world. She's also an exceptional wife and mother. Her role brings a real sense of fun and energy to the story.

Finally, Ameya Pandya I love the child actors in Bollywood, I really do! Rahul is everything I hope my nephews grow to be. And he's in another favorite of mine Lafangey Parindey (Yash Raj Films New Hindi Film / Bollywood Movie / Indian Cinema DVD) and completely different but just as good.

Songs, I love how they used the songs to tell us the thoughts of the characters and all very pretty. No real dances which is a shame but it did fit the film.

All in all, who knew 79$ and a new Amazon Prime Membership would have me this satisfied in two hours.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feminist Bollywood love story, July 22, 2014
By 
lonebeaut (land of enchantment) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Vivah (Amazon Instant Video)
Traditional Indian Hindu engagements are pretty chaste, and generally they're arranged by the families, even in the 21st century. This fictional romance is no exception, except it has a couple of twists. One is that Prem and Poonam, total strangers, fall madly in love with each other instantly (not hard to understand since they're both gorgeous, and this is Bollywood after all), and the other is that they marry despite a tragic circumstance on the day of their wedding that could easily have been a deal breaker for the groom's family. In a country where female fetuses and babies are often killed, women and girls are routinely raped, brides are murdered over dowry issues, and dark skin makes it harder for a woman to find a husband and the skin-bleaching industry is highly profitable (please note that Poonam has light skin but her unmarried stepsister/cousin Chhoti does not), this is a pretty strong social statement on the part of the filmmakers. At another point in the film, Prem gently chides Poonam for being too self-effacing and believing that he's more important than she is.

So despite the fact that this movie went on for almost three hours and most of it was on the sweetly saccharine side with every character except Poonam's jealous stepmother/aunt unbelievably nice and decent, I shed more than a few tears and stuck with it to the end (although I chewed it in small bites). Throw in the requisite singing, dancing and colorful costumes, plus the all-important wedding festivities, and it's an entertaining film with a message.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Bollywood film! A must-buy, must-watch!!, January 29, 2012
This review is from: Vivah (DVD)
I'm a big fan of Bollywood (even though I'm not Indian!). I've watched dozens of Bollywood films, including the most famous ones and I have to say that this is one of the best I've seen. It's on par with Dilwale Dulhani Le Jayenge and the other classics. It's also based on a true story! I absolutely love Shahid Kapoor and he shines in this movie. Very highly recommended! A movie to watch over and over again!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the sweetest story ever!, August 26, 2011
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I absolutely love this movie! The characters are awesome and the story is sweet. It contains romance, sillyness, and wonderful examples of what real men are like! Shahid Kapur made a great hero. Amrita Rao is even more beautiful inside than out! The family relationships portrayed are something to strive to live up to! Love it and watch it over again every couple of months, which says a lot given that I have a fairly large movie collection and Netflix membership. This is worth buying.
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Vivah
Vivah by Sooraj R. Barjatya
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