A young, handsome boy from a wealthy family meets an innocent, beautiful, middle-class girl. A friendship is born, which soon blossoms into romance. Classes clash and love is put to the test. The boy must now prove that he can do anything for his lady love, including leaving his life of luxury.
That’s the story of Prabhu Deva’s latest directorial venture Ramaiya Vastavaiya. If the plot sounds vaguely familiar to Bollywood fans, it might be because it recalls the 1989 Salman Khan and Bhagyashree movie Maine Pyar Kiya. But the Bollywood newcomer Girish Kumar, who plays Ram in Vastavaiya, disagrees.
“Ramaiya Vastavaiya is not a remake of Maine Pyar Kiya. It might share some similarities, since both are romantic films, but it shares common elements with so many romantic films,” says the 25-year-old actor.
“It’s essentially the love story of a boy and a girl from two very different backgrounds. But it’s not just a romantic film showing the love between a boy and a girl. It also shows the love between brother and sister, father and son.”
The son of the producer Kumar Taurani (who’s also behind Ramaiya Vastavaiya) and the nephew of Ramesh Taurani of Tips Industries Limited, one of India’s largest music and film houses, Kumar makes a well-planned debut with this film.
He has been grooming to be a Bollywood lead actor since screen tests and auditions with Deva in 2010, when Deva was picked by the Tauranis to direct the project that would launch the youngster. Deva is quoted as having said back then that Kumar “is 22, but looks 19”.
“That was in 2010,” Kumar says. “Things have changed since then. I definitely don’t look like a kid anymore.”
Deva – who is a dancer first and a director second – had Kumar go through rigorous dance training with professional choreographers. Kumar also spent time on the sets of various Tips productions and observed other actors at work. A closely monitored fitness training programme was also designed, which Kumar adhered to religiously.
“Yes, I really did get six-pack abs in three weeks,” quips Kumar.
Shooting for Ramaiya Vastavaiya started in August last year and Kumar admits he was a little nervous the first few days, but soon was in his own element, going as far as to perform his own stunts in the film.
Kumar’s opening scene in the film is a twist on the Bollywood trademark “grand entry”: he comes in on a surfboard. Instead of getting a stuntman to perform the tricky routine, Kumar – who had never surfed before – took lessons and performed the scene himself. He also did a cliff-jump scene and an action sequence involving a windmill.
“I didn’t know there was the option to get a stunt double,” he jokes, and adds that the opportunity to do such things is part of the appeal of being an actor.
Starring opposite Kumar as the female lead is Shruti Hassan, an actress, singer and music composer working in the south Indian film industry.
Deva makes an appearance in the film in an item number alongside Jacqueline Fernandez: Jaadu Ki Jhappi. The film’s soundtrack, released on May 15, has fared well in India’s music charts.
Ÿ Ramaiya Vastavaiya is released in theatres across the UAE on Thursday
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