He gave Salman Khan his career's first hit Maine Pyaar Kiya, established him as Prem before he became Dabangg with a string of action movies recently, gave Madhuri Dixit one of her biggest blockbusters, Hum Aapke Hain Koun! He's Sooraj Barjatya, the grandson of Tarachand Barjatya who excels in the art of churning out hard-core romantic films with aplomb. On his 47th birthday, we pay a tribute to the king of wedding flicks.
If romance was his genre, Prem had to be his protagonist. Salman Khan was his Prem in almost all his directorial ventures except Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon and Vivaah. Vivaah (wedding) nevertheless remained the central theme of nearly all his films.
Maine Pyar Kiya, starring newcomer Bhagyashree and Salman Khan, was one of the biggest hits of 1989 in India and Sooraj Barjatya didn't look back after its success.
Then came Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994). Critics at that time ripped the movie apart, saying it looks like a wedding video. The film went on to break many records, establishing Barjatya, as the king of wedding flicks. Madhuri Dixit's Deedi Tera Dewar Deewana, Waah Waah Raamji and many others songs composed by Raamlaxman ruled charts for a very long time.
In Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1999), a multi-starrer movie, Barjatya had the scope to show more than one weddings - Mohnish-Tanu, Saif-Karisma and Salman-Sonali.
Trying to keep up with the changing times, Sooraj Barjatya treated Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon (2003) differently. He played out the Prem angle, rather triangle in a unique way. Hrithik Roshan and Abhishek Bachchan both played Prem. And Kareena played Prem Ki Deewani. Despite all the correct ingredients, the recipe somehow failed to whet the viewers' appetite.
In 2006, he was back to doing what he's best at. Shahid-Amrita starrer Vivaah, though old-school, set the box office afire. Shahid, the new Prem and Amrita, his flame, were successful in wooing the audience.
He remade some of his grandfather's films, but in his own way. Hum Aapke Hain Koun was inspired from Nadiya Ke Paar and Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon was based on Chitchor.
Sooraj perhaps is the most peace loving directors of Bollywood, as his films starting from Maine Pyaar... to Vivaah hardly had any action. It was pure romance, and yes, it had great music.
Rumour has it that Sooraj Barjatya is planning his next directorial venture with Salman Khan, but it has not been confirmed. If it's true, his reunion with his original Prem is much awaited.