Savera R Someshwar
Amitabh Bachchan is in the host's chair. Yet he is the one who claims the prize. Of all the performances in Suneel's Darshan's Ek Rishtaa -- The Bond Of Love, this consummate actor walks away with the accolades.
Even Akshay Kumar, normally dubbed a wooden actor, has delivered a reasonably commendable performance.
Karisma, as usual, looks lovely.
No one can doubt the acting skills of Rakhee, Juhi Chawla or Mohnish Behl.
Sameer Reddy's cinematography is pleasing.
Darshan himself, it is obvious, has put in a lot of hard work.
The ingredients just don't blend. The end product leaves you feeling dissatisfied. And with a nagging query: Darshan had all the ingredients for a successful film. So why does it seem like he has a bomb, or at the most optimistic, an average grosser, on his hands?
The film's biggest strength is its eminently saleable starcast. What undermines Ek Rishtaa is a shoddy, thoughtless screenplay (Robin Bhatt, S M Ahale) that fails to convert a story (by Suneel Darshan), which showed potential, into a box office winner.
Vijay Kapoor (Amitabh Bachchan) is an immensely successful, kind, caring businessman. He's earned his wealth the hard way, and believes there is no substitute for experience. His world comprises of his adoring family -- wife Pratima (Rakhee), three daughters Preeti (Juhi Chawla), Priya (Simone Singh) and Rani (Kanika Kohli) and son Ajay (Akshay Kumar).
Enter Rajesh Purohit (Mohnish Behl), a business graduate looking for a job. Eminently capable of impressing Vijay with his efficiency, and Preeti with his skill at solving crossword puzzles.
Ajay, who is celebrating his specialisation in information technology, returns in time for his sister's wedding after, of course, having fallen head-over-heels in love with Nisha (Karisma Kapoor). While Ajay is keen on starting out on his own, Vijay believes he should first gather the experience required to run a business.
The son does not agree with his father's methods. The two clash, with each successive event serving to further the rift, until Vijay orders his son to leave the house. The successful businessman, though, is soon duped by those he once trusted and is reduced to bankruptcy. The prodigal son returns. Father and son combine forces and fight to restore the family honour.
This, at least, is what the makers thought would make for a touching, sensitive family drama.
What really happened...
A terrible screenplay, uninspired editing (Sanjay Sankla) and an overdose of characters put paid to Suneel Darshan's dreams. Instead of a seamless production, the film jumps jerkily from scene to scene. This one takes the cake: Akshay, busy bashing up some baddies, receives a call: "Main head matron bol rahi hoon. Mubarak ho. Aap baap ban gaye hain. Aapko beta hua hai." And the hero just walks out of the place!
Also jarring is the depiction of relationships -- or lack thereof -- in a film that is supposedly all about rishtas. You get the feeling that Amitabh just does not have any faith in his son's business acumen. Instead, he displays more faith in his son-in-law's abilities. You don't get the feeling that the Kapoors are a close knit family. Or that the four children care for each other. There is no depth to the relationship between Amitabh and Rakhee nor between Akshay and Karisma.
To top it off, the songs are placed at the most unexpected moments: Dil lagaane ki sazaa, for example, is a dream sequence immediately after Akshay returns from seeing his sick father. The music, too -- except for Mohabbat ne mohabbat ko, Dil lagaane ki sazaa and, to a certain extent, Hum kush huey -- is rather tepid.
Vijay Kapoor: What does one say about Amitabh Bachchan? A skilled actor, he is good in the film but would have been brilliant with a better script.
Ajay Kapoor: This is one of Akshay Kumar's better performances. Makes you wish a good director would take the guy in hand; he could actually deliver an applause-worthy performance.
Pratima Kapoor: Rakhee has been completely wasted in this bit role.
Nisha Thapar: Karisma looks great, but there is precious little she can do to alleviate a badly etched role.
Preeti Kapoor: Juhi Chawla looks pretty, pregnant and very bored.
Rajesh Purohit: For someone who has proved he can act, the role offers Mohnish Bahl absolutely no challenges.
Nagma: She appears in an item number that will not do much for her non-existent Bollywood career.
Inspector: Though limited to a five-minute appearance, Sharat Saxena provides some of the brighter moments in the film. When are we going to see more of this actor?
Thapar: Alok Nath is wasted in this role.
Laddoo Uncle: Ditto Shakti Kapoor.
Sunil: Ditto Sunil Shetty, in a special appearance.
At best, a poor man's Yash Chopra. Suneel Darshan has tried to bring in the Yash Chopra look and feel; but succeeds only in places.
The climax, where the frightened villain faces the cold rage of an avenging Amitabh. While the audience will definitely respond to the scene where he likens life to a game of Snakes And Ladders, the ceetees will erupt the minute he gives the ultimatum: "Tumhare paas waqt sirf tab tak hai... Koi jaldi nahin hai. Itminan se bataana. Take your time."
The confrontation between Amitabh and Akshay: One of the few well-written, realistic scenes in the film.
Sharat Saxena as the inspector.
Akshay ragging Karisma during the Juhi-Mohnish wedding scene: Brings a smile to your face.
Oh! I don't know. It's the kind of film you might want to watch after your exams. Or because there's nothing much to watch until Lagaan releases some time next month. After all, the film does have its moments.
But be prepared for a beginning that drags and moments that annoy. Even if you are the forgiving, timepass, Hindi film watcher.
Ek Rishtaa-Story in Pictures
Suneel Darshan on Ek Rishtaa-The Bond of Love
The music review of Ek Rishtaa-The Bond of Love