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Much ado about Prem

Sukanya Verma | June 27, 2003 21:03 IST

After waiting for the release of Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon for nearly three years, I have to say I'm disappointed.

Kareena Kapoor in MPKDHThere are reasons why I am not exactly crazy about Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon. Here are a few:

Why did filmmaker Sooraj R Barjatya decide to rehash his own home production, Chitchor, and transform it into the decidedly inferior Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon? While the earlier Basu Chatterjee film, starring Amol Palekar, Zarina Wahab, Dina Pathak and Vijayendra Ghatge was a light-hearted comedy about a case of mistaken identities, MPKDH is a contrived mushy drama.

In MPKDH, Sanjana (Kareena Kapoor) is the darling daughter of Satya Prakash (Pankaj Kapoor) and Susheela (Himani Shivpuri). Susheela, like Dina Pathak in Chitchor, is obsessed with finding a perfect (read rich) husband for her daughter. She thinks she finds one in Prem (Hrithik Roshan).

Like Pathak, Susheela treats Prem like royalty and pressures Sanjana into liking him. Again, like Pathak, Susheela quickly changes her preference when she comes across a richer Prem (Abhishek Bachchan).

In Chitchor, Zarina Wahab had a kid brother played by Master Raju. A computer-animated parrot Raja and Johny the dog replace little Raju here. In MPKDH, Sanjana plays a fancy guitar as opposed to Zarina's humble harmonium.

But MPKDH has the unmistakable Barjatya stamp all over it -- Bihari servants, crowded home décor, oodles of mush, and so-sweet characters. 

Also, everyone chooses to yell and scream rather than have a decent conversation. Himani Shivpuri and Kareena Kapoor make an ideal mom-daughter screaming pair. Thankfully, Kareena tones down in the second half and is spontaneous during emotional outbursts.

Hrithik Roshan takes his role as a vibrant personality a bit too seriously and ends up delivering a shockingly loud performance. His body language is unnecessarily nervous and overly dramatic. Right from his clothes to his expressions, everything is high-pitched.

No wonder Abhishek Bachchan's grim-faced, reserved avatar is a welcome change. Even though he comes in only after the interval, Abhishek wins the votes for making his Prem dignified and endearing.

Abhishek BachchanThe only other actor who has his expressions in check is Pankaj Kapoor. The veteran plays a graceful father with ease.

Perhaps Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon would have been an ideal launch for Hrithik and Kareena. The two have shared great on-screen chemistry in Yaadein, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Mujhse Dosti Karoge. But after working together in so many films, their pairing seems to have lost its freshness. 

A film's length -- MPKDH lasts three-and-a-half hours -- is not really a problem; after all, Ashutosh Gowariker's Lagaan was three hours 40 minutes long. The difference is that Lagaan gripped you completely. MPKDH doesn't. To add to that, it has songs popping up every few minutes. Anu Malik's score is catchy, but unnecessarily prolongs the climax.

Speaking of which, one is spared excessive melodrama, denials and betrayals though the film does end on a hopelessly hackneyed note. What a pity, considering Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon is helmed by the man who made crowd-pleasers like Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!

Maine Pyar Kiya had several hit dialogues -- Dosti ki hai nibhani toh padegi, for example. Even Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! boasted of subtle romantic nuances. Remember the swimming pool scene where Madhuri Dixit asks Salman Khan Hum aapke hain koun?

MPKDH is devoid of such touches. Instead, there are Valentine's Day celebrations (like in Dil To Pagal Hai) and a beachside rendezvous (like in Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai) and water sports (like in Samundar).

A still from MPKDHThe one thing MPKDH stresses on is the name of its protagonists, Prem and Sanjana. Sadly, the actors fail to rise above those names.

MPKDH does have its moments, though: Sanjana welcoming Prem (Hrithik) in a hilarious Sati-Savitri take-off; Prem (Abhishek) attempting to learn cycling; Sanjana teasing Prem (Abhishek) about his shyness.

But these are no excuses for an otherwise non-happening film from a filmmaker known to create magic on screen.

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