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April 19, 2001
Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai was a film that catapulted Bollywood's current hearthrob, Hrithik Roshan and his costar Amisha Patel to stardom. It was a dream debut for the duo and bestowed on Roshan star status and a gargantuan fan following.
Naturally, Vikram Bhatt's Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage with its pairing of the duo once again, has the audience interest piqued. It seems to have the right ingredients for success.
A lead pair whose chemistry set the box-office on fire once, a story that offers ample opportunities for song and dance and a director who is one of the hottest properties in Hindi cinema today after the success of Raaz [starring Dino Morea and Bipasha Basu].
Yet AMALL fails miserably. It stumbles, stutters, stops and then hurtles into disaster with appalling speed. Purported to be a love story against the backdrop of Navratri, the festival that is celebrated for nine nights in Gujarat in Western India with much song and dance.
Underworld don Dholakia (Kiran Kumar) has a strange way of caring for his daughter Sapna (Amisha Patel). To protect her from his enemies he virtually imprisons her in his house, not permitting her to go anywhere or meet anyone. Not surprisingly, Sapna thinks it is more fun to run into the enemy than live in her boring cage.
Gangsters pounce on her, only to run into Rohit (Hrithik Roshan), who rescues her from a posse of heavily-armed, trigger-happy bad men. Even before he can ask her name, her bodyguards whisk her away, leaving Hrithik forlorn, an expression he is to wear with monotonous regularity through the film.
Sapna runs into Rohit again during Navratri. The lovelorn duo do the song and dance routine, at the end of which the evil father decides to get his daughter married off to a childhood friend's son. The rest of the story is about how Rohit spirits Sapna away from her house and fights an assortment of baddies led by her brother Raman (Mukesh Tiwari).
The wafer-thin plot is really as bad as it sounds. Its execution only makes it worse. A love story against the backdrop of the colourful Dandiya Raas sounds exciting, but what appears on screen is atrocious.
The sets are tacky, the costumes shabby and the dialogues so cliched they seem to have been written by someone with a passion for the mundane. Above all, the pace of the film is at fault. Like a stubborn mule, the story refuses to move. And by the time the protagonists go from exchanging soulful glances to confessing their love, you are exceedingly fidgety.
Romance, supposed to be the highlight, appears in soulful looks, fluttering eyelashes and heaving bosoms, harking back to the 1970s' style of filmmaking.
Post-intermission, once the duo declare their feelings for each other, the film focuses on Rohit's efforts to hide Amisha from her wicked family. As part of that, he sprints her away to his boys' hostel, where she remains hidden for all of one night before she is discovered. The entire sequence appears outlandish. From that point you know for sure it will only get worse. The last half-hour has the screen liberally splattered with bullets, more dead bodies than you can count and a grotesque Hrithik Roshan staggering through the baddies to rescue his ladylove.
AMALL is uniformly bad. For a film that set amidst the revelry of the festival of nine days, Rajesh Roshan's music leaves much to be desired. The colourful ghagra-choli, the traditional costume during Navratri, is surprisingly missing, to be replaced by mutants with no resemblance to the original.
What marks the downfall of AMALL is the terrible performance by its lead actors. Amisha Patel, considered a fairly competent actress, turns in a howler with exaggerated mannerisms, affected dialogue delivery and heaving bosom. Quite inexplicably, Amisha wheezes through every teary sequence. She is especially terrible towards the climax.
Hrithik Roshan, one of Hindi cinema's biggest stars, is a letdown. His sinewy biceps and drop-dead looks don't salvage his nonexistent characterisation or lack of credible dialogues.
Director Vikram Bhatt's inconsistency takes you by surprise ge most. After the slick Ghulam [starring Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherji], the passable Kasoor [with Aftab Shivdasani and Lisa Ray], and the reasonably spooky Raaz, Bhatt comes up with a disaster.
Just reiterates one thing --- AMALL is best left AWOL (absent without leave).
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