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January 23, 1999


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Till incompatibility do us part

A still from Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain. Click for bigger pic!
Sharmila Taliculam

Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain has nothing new to offer. It's the usual run-of-the-mill story, has the usual sprinkling of drama, comedy, fight, romance and, not to forget, a melodramatic climax. There's a hero, a heroine and a villain, all with the Bharatiya culture plastered all over it.

There have been plenty of these kind of films on screen recently. To name a few, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Pardes and Hero Hindustani. Only one gets to see Kajol in a Sati-Savitri wifey role. And you know that it's often worked too.

HADMRH is a remake of a Telugu super-hit, Pavitra Bandham. The story has it that this chap, Vijay Chopra (Anil Kapoor), returns from America with Western views to everything, including marriage. So he wants to marry a girl he would love. Since, Indian parents won't hear of that four-letter word, his father Anupam Kher puts pressure on him to marry a girl of papa's choice. The hero agrees but places one condition -- that he has the choice whether to continue the marriage after a year.

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Enter Megha (Kajol), the sole earning member of a family of five. She kind of takes the burden on her petite shoulders to set everything right and hence agrees to the conditional marriage. The hero won't treat treats his wife like a doormat. He actually lectures her when she touches his feet and calls him her god. But that doesn't mean things are all hunky-dory. Quite the contrary. For he decides that he doesn't love his wife after all, and decides to pack his bags after a year.

You wonder at times what is this strange fascination with those on a return flight from the US? And to assuage feelings in the audience here, they are all made to run down the country they've been visiting.

When Chopra first seeks the pre-nuptial agreement with his bride-to-be, she is shocked. Megha angrily tells Chopra that he could probably buy an American girl for a few dollars, but not an Indian girl. Did you know that?

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Nevertheless, Kajol manages her role well, using her eyes to good effect in many scenes. The longing in them is particularly intense when she seeks some appreciation for whatever she is doing and hubby shrugs it off as just one of those things.

Anil Kapoor too has proved again that he is an actor par excellence. Nobody else could have carried the role of a husband, who is initially indifferent to his wife and then falls in love all over again so well. Reminds you of his roles in films like Judaai, Lamhe and Mr Bechara. He's particularly endearing in the bit where he touches his wife's feet and tells her that if she could do it, then so could he.

Also riveting is the highly emotional scene where he tells Kajol that he is not the only one to be blamed for the pre-nuptial agreement; and that she agreed to it because it suited her convenience then. And he does a masterly job of it.

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Anupam Kher is a clone of Amrish Puri in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge and Pardes -- an Indian father who thinks Western culture corrupts, but Indian culture puts everything right. So the mini-clad Mink won't do, but Kajol in a salwar kameez is perfect. On the whole, his role has no unusual shades to it.

Then of course one has to suffer a few villains like Shakti Kapoor and Parmeet Sethi. The latter plays the same role he performed in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge -- an illiterate north Indian. He lusts after Megha and, to aid his cause, almost snuffs her hubby twice in the film.

Sadhu Meher makes a rare appearance as the old retainer. Though it isn't much of a role, it is still pleasing to see this fine actor after so many years.

The most annoying characters in the film are Johnny Lever and Satish Kaushik, as Sunny Goel and a German. They are intended to provide some respite between the emotional scenes, but they have your teeth on edge in no time at all. Kaushik, who is also the film's director, could have done better.

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Two songs are really good, the title song and Mahi. The sets are bright and colourful, a trademark of art director Sharmishta Roy. She has done quite a few of them recently, including Kuch Kuch Hota Hain. Only the house looks like a miniature White House. That is taking the American thing a bit too far, we thought.

There were good moments and bad. The scenes between Anil Kapoor and Kajol are really good, and it is these that save the film from going downhill in a rush.

Satish Kaushik, who directed Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja and Prem, is passable as a director, considering he already had good actors who can carry their own weight.

The film is a little different in the sense that there are no external factors causing the rift, only a matter of personal choice.

Hum Aap Ke Dil Mein Rehte Hain is a good enough film if you go for that kind of family tear-jerker. And then there's Kajol to see, in an excellent role with fine shades to it. Beyond that, there's little to this standard D Rama Naidu film.

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