Yaadein is a story of memories -- some sad, some painful, some full of love, some of joy, some of longing, some of desire.
But like champagne gone flat, Yaadein tantalises in the beginning and loses its fizz.
It's supposed to be a story about a father who is suddenly faced with bringing up his three motherless daughters. Handled sensitively, it could have been an emotional masterpiece. Instead, it's a mishmash between a family drama and a tacky love story.
Raj Singh Puri (Jackie Shroff), loses his wife Shalini (Rati Agnihotri), in an accident. From being provider of the house, Raj has to singlehandedly bring up his three young daughters.
This angle has been touted as the backbone of film, but it's been treated quite shoddily. And, might one say it, quite superficially. Why, for example, has the mother-daughter bond not been explored? More important, why does it not show a man's discomfort at having to suddenly become his daughters' friend while struggling with the loss of his wife?
It would have been a winner had it been handled more maturely and sensitively. Take for instance the time when Raj's second daughter, Sanya, comes home one night after a drinking binge. The father and daughter have an argument, at the end of which, the daughter threatens to call the police if her father slaps her.
Ghai fails to bring across the pain of a father who is convinced that it's the absence of a mother in his daughters' lives that has led her to rebel.
The more dominant thread through the film is the love story between Kareena Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan. Isha, played by Kareena, is the most mature of Raj's daughters.
Ronit (Hrithik Roshan), Raj's neighbour in London, is his best friend. Ronit's uncle (Amrish Puri) is knee-deep into the stock market while Ronit is an entrepreneur running a host of dotcoms like cdguru.com, shaadi.com, cokemohabbat.com and yaadein.com
Isha and Ronit start as friends but fall in love after Ronit rescues her from a crocodile-infested island. But Ronit's uncle (Amrish Puri) wants him to marry the daughter of a rich businessman who will help further his financial interests.
Ronit tells his parents he loves Isha. And the families that were till now friendly become enemies. The rest of the story is about how Isha and Ronit work over this opposition.
Ghai has claimed that Jackie's role in Yaadein is his best ever. But a poor script fails Jackie. To his credit, he turns out a restrained and credible performance. His role in Yaadein will be counted among his best. But this is definitely not the role of his lifetime.
Hrithik Roshan steals the thunder from under Jackie's feet. As Ronit, Hrithik is brilliant. Despite a poorly etched character, he carries off his part with conviction. Whether it is pleading with Isha to acknowledge her love for him or the scene where he lashes out at his mother for neglecting his interests, Hrithik is the showstopper.
Yaadein is Hrithik's film all the way. He emotes beautifully, dances like a dream and is every woman's dream come true on screen.
Kareena, while brilliant in parts, still has a long way to go. She hams her way through many of the scenes and seems quite self-conscious. Though, unarguably, she sizzles on screen.
For all its flaws, Yaadein is not the disaster that it could have become.
A few things still redeem the film: The Hrithik-Kareena chemistry. The two together set the screen on fire. Hrithik's fire in the belly complements Kareena's ice maiden stand beautifully.
The music, which has always been a high point of all Ghai films, doesn't disappoint. The title song stays with you long after you leave the theatre. Eli re eli, with its very Indian influence in the beginning, and Jab dil mile, a foot-tapping number, are well-picturised and grow on you.
Well-picturised songs and good production values -- Ghai manages to keep the audience glued to his film.
The cinematography, while good, fails to contrast the beauty of London and India. Kabir Lal's camera captures the sights in a stroke of technical brilliance, but lacks soul.
In Yaadein, Ghai has become a victim of his own filmmaking idiosyncracies. His cameo a la Alfred Hitchcock is quite contrived -- he pops up suddenly like a jack out of the box, startling the audience. The film could well have done without his appearance.
Ghai, who is known to extract amazing performances from his artistes, falters this time with the rest of the cast. Everyone from Hrithik's parents to Jackie's daughters ham outrageously through the film.
The tacky computer generated special effects could also have been restrained. The shot of Hrithik and Kareena flying through what looks like the milky way galaxy to land into each other arms. Or the scene where Hrithik multiplies into an army of Hrithiks like a cloning experiment gone terribly wrong.
Where Yaadein fails miserably is in the scripting. The emotional scenes are underdeveloped and the continuity poor. Like when Sanya, Raj Singh's second daughter, comes home wanting a divorce from her husband, there is just a blink-and-you-miss reaction from Jackie while the camera abruptly shifts to Malaysia where Isha is participating in a cycle race.
The film clearly plays to the NRI gallery with its yuppie look and British accent-laced dialogues.
Yaadein has got a fabulous initial already and chances are that the film will be a hit. Which is a pity because it shows that all it takes to sucker the audience to watch a film is gloss, glamour and good music, even if they are in the wrong proportion.
Oh, how I long for the old Subhash Ghai! Someone find him for me again.
'Kareena: kiddish; Hrithik: a thorough gentleman!': Subhash Ghai
Playing Mr Perfect -- Hrithik's your ideal guy in Yaadein
Destiny's lucky child -- Kareena
Subhash Ghai on Kareena
The 'Daddy' of all roles for Jackie
Yaadein: Fresh off the Web
Yaadein will a fond memory in the heart of millions
The Yaadein music review