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|April 22, 2000||
Old wine, old bottle
Probably because some people had cash to spare and believed that movie-goers were imbeciles.
Producer A M Rathnam's Madras offering, Dil Hi Dil Mein, certainly did not lack in innovation. We have the hero and heroine falling in love through the Internet, the process being conducted in a cybercafe. And we also have a rival to both the Harvard and Wheaton Schools of Management as well as our own IIMs in Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Bangalore.
The founder-director of Ramchandra Institute of Business Management, where most of the action takes place in the film, helps his students in their love affairs to the extent of writing their love letters. What more can one ask for?? And which other management institute would have someone like Johny Lever as part of the faculty??
Dil Hi Dil Mein is a soft movie. No violence, no fights, no bloodshed. It is all about love, cybercafes, suburban train journeys in Bombay and, towards the end, a little bit of the traditional khandaan ki izzat problem.
Raja and Roja fall in love thanks to their Internet connections. But they never talk to each other, lose each other's love letters and test our sanity through one misunderstanding after the other. Raja is poor, yet he wears great clothes and spends money like water at the cybercafe. Roja is stinking rich, in fact, the daughter of the institute founder, yet she travels to college in crowded suburban trains!!
When we fondly hope that the lovers will be united and happily disappear from the screen, Raja is made aware of the fact that only the rich can marry the rich. All set for the 'great sacrifice,' he is pulled back by the founder who had helped him to write love letters to his own daughter (unknowingly, of course). And that, if you will have it, is the story.
The story, screenplay and direction are attributed to Kathir and it's a triple let down. How long must we put up with screenplays that wouldn't even convince primary school-goers? The 'business school', supposedly one of the best in the country, is run like a private fiefdom. The progress of the love affair is corny and absurd. The narrative is jerky. The dubbing is of poor quality, making us wonder at times if it was a Tamil film we were watching.
Two plus points, both of them minor. P C Sreeram's cinematography, particularly the Bombay city shots, is appealing. So are a couple of songs set to tune by A R Rahman. But the background music is loud and jarring.
The film introduces a new hero, Kunal (Raja), who sadly proves no competitor to the Khans or the reigning Roshan. Baby-faced and highly camera-conscious, he manages to sleepwalk through the role, bursting into tears at the slightest provocation. He could be nominated for the 'Best Tearjerker Hero' award.
Sonali Bendre seems to be affected by the presence of her hero, who looks much younger and is, as a result, more wooden than usual. Kunal and Sonali are so stiff in their love scenes that they look like models in textile ads.
But the ultimate insult to the viewer's sanity is Johny Lever, who is made to look like the hero of Titanic. Introduced as the professor of the management institute, he screams endlessly and, to start with, is shown to be computer-illiterate. But, within a couple of scenes, he becomes a computer-whiz and goes browsing in search of a girlfriend.
We staggered out of the hall as soon as 'The End' flashed on the screen. The hero was present in the foyer. He didn't seem to mind the fact that the mediapersons ignored him and went away quietly. They were still reeling under the impact of Johny Lever and a pair of lovers who played Statue all the time.
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