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May 29, 1999


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Bad Show........... The Biwi No 1 review
It's like one of those psychedelic dreams: people come in and go out, say odd things, and flit away, insubstantial beings who leave only an impression of colour and confusion. That kind of lack of logic, disoriented narrative and nonsense is what you encounter in Biwi No 1, David Dhawan's latest film.

Biwi No 1 Karisma plays Pooja, a Bharatiya nari, complete with sindoor, Kanjeevaram sarees, and a mug that alternates between the bemused and the bewildered. Pooja spends her time stuffing fodder down the throat of her young and hauling them off to school. Hubby Prem (Salman Khan), the owner of an advertising agency, balances accounts and tears out his hair because he can't find a model 5 feet 8 inch tall and who sports a figure admeasuring 36-24-36.

That is when model Rupali (Sushmita) sashays into his den, fulfils the qualifications, and walks out with a three-year contract.

The film actually kicks off showing Sushmita, a middle-class girl planning to DO something in life -- and what better way than tramping down a ramp. The decision also trips up a proposed marriage with her beau, a photographer (Saif Ali Khan in a special appearance).

Biwi No 1 Focus shifts to the ad man's home where Prem belts out the title song, in praise of his spouse. And soon after, on a rainy night, Prem's car coughs and dies in the vicinity of Rupali's house. He falls for her and vice versa. And how does one get the idea. Simple, via another song, Ishq sona hai, ishq chandi hai tossed in. Only hitch is that Rupali is left in the dark about Prem's married status.

Prem plans a trip to Switzerland where he can carouse in peace with Rupali. When wifey hears that hubby's work is taking him to the Alps, she plans to tag along with family. Hubby fobs her off, toting up the cost and ruefully pointing out that it works out to Rs 1.5 million. Naturally, the Bharatiya nari can't permit such extravagance, can she? And so she backs off.

But Prem finds his friend Lakhan (Anil Kapoor) is also on the flight. Lakhan, who appears to be rather proud of his profession since he totes a stethoscope even while flying, is accompanied by wife Lovelee (Tabu) who speak in Punjabi-accented Hindi. Biwi No 1

Prem avoids them and, of course, makes no mention of his reason for being in Switzerland. Then fate -- you know, Fate, with a capital F -- intervenes and Prem gets an excruciating backache at night. Dr Lakhan is called in and while fixing the back learns his pal's guilty secret.

He tells Lovelee who nails Rupali the next day to tell her that her beau's married, and a pater to boot. Rupali is very upset till Prem throws her a sob story that suggests that Pooja is mentally deficient.

They return to Bombay, where Prem buys Rupali a bungalow and a car. And it takes a loyal pet dog, apparently well-versed in Hindu Marriage Act, to drag Pooja over to Rupali's place of residence.

Biwi No 1 Shock, consternation! That's when Pooja pulls herself together and tells hubby that he either dump the woman or clear out of the house. Proud hubby walks out to join his new-found love.

The Bharatiya nari shifts gears to establish her position. And that, all filmi Bharatiya naris know can only be done in minis and model suits. Thus befittingly outfitted the transmogrified woman walks into hubby's office and claims her 51 percent ownership in the company.

While opting for aggression, Pooja doesn't leave out some subterfuge too, sending her kids along with the mater-in-law to Rupali's house. Lakhan and Lovelee too join the Oust Rupali movement.

David Dhawan's storyline seems to suggest that men are wont to stray after marriage, a matter made easier if the other woman is the oomphy kind of gal that Sushmita is.

Biwi No 1 Anu Malik's music is pathetic. The six songs are unbearable, with the exception of Jungle hai, aadhi raat hai, ladki ko laga hai darr. That's about hummable.

Sameer, the lyricist, it seems is running out of things to say, it seems. So you have lines like Ishq sona hai, ishq chandi hai, sona, sona, sona, sona. Very original, of course and, hopefully, unlikely to be repeated. That's also the song in which Sushmita, in her heels, looks much taller than Salman.

Sushmita has tried hard to make a mark in a different role, but the trouble is that the role itself isn't worth remembering. Salman and Karisma have performed well, but there's little in the script to aid their cause.

Anil Kapoor and Tabu too play characters quite different from what they usually do. They provide some respite in the dying end of the film.

To sum it up, Biwi No 1 really isn't worth the trouble.

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