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Sukanya Verma | November 04, 2005 16:27 IST
I love you K-k-k-Kiran.
It would just be another run-of-the-mill proclamation of love, if it wasn't for the stammering. That made all the difference, making this the signature line of Yash Chopra's Darr.
Released 12 years ago, Darr dealt with the constant obsession of a not-so-normal young man. Fairly unusual, you would think, for an Indian audience, who around then was fed on a strict diet of colossal action, lollipop romances and corny comedies?
Maybe the idea of a mentally sick fellow (played by Shah Rukh Khan) writing letters in blood, engraving the name of the object of affection on his shaved chest with a knife, having lengthy telephonic conversations with his deceased mommy, hounding the girl relentlessly and making furious fatal attempts on her fiancé -- thrilled the starved viewer.
Soon there was a flood of mad hatters in Bollywood movies. SRK reprised this manic bit to indigestible levels in Anjaam. Like most popular formulas, stalking too caught on big in Bollywood with actors like Urmila Matondkar, Kajol, Suniel Shetty, Sharad Kapoor in Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya, Gupt, Dhadkan and Dastak joining the crazy race.
Although the tagline of Darr read 'a violent love story', Chopra blended the aggressive nature of the script with oodles of romance. Pictures this: dancing in magnificent fields, rolling on flowerbeds, luxuriant bubble baths, stylish wooing, mushy cootchie-cooing against the trademark Yash Raj Swiss locales.
When Darr was made, it appeared to be a risky deal for its maker. His last two films, the critically acclaimed Lamhe and Parampara, an ambitious multistarrer, had been declared box-office disappointments. It was imperative that Darr do well. So Chopra started out making this unconventional romance.
Casting Sunny Deol and Juhi Chawla in the hero-heroine's part wasn't an issue, finding the bad guy was. Apparently, Aamir Khan was the original choice for Rahul's character. But Khan's reported request for a joint script session was promptly put down and he was out of the picture. Ajay Devgan was one of the quiet contenders too. It was SRK who eventually landed the part. The same year as Darr released, Baazigar came out as well. He was in the danger of getting slotted, which he was, for a brief period. But then Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge happened. And the rest is history.
In Darr, Shah Rukh plays Rahul, an out of control lover. On the surface, he appears casually timid and silently sharp. But in truth he is one hell of disturbed dude. He lives in a dark room surrounded by projectors featuring Kiran's pictures. Kiran (Juhi Chawla) is the woman he worships, craves and fantasises about. His desperation to win her love evokes a mix of pity and exasperation. There is a slight suggestion that his mother's demise in a car accident could have led to a traumatic childhood.
Vibrant, cheerful and hugely affectionate, Kiran is fresh out of college and hopelessly in love with her super-charming marine commando boyfriend, Sunil (Sunny Deol). She lives with her cricket enthusiast brother, Vijay (Anupam Kher) and harmlessly niggling sister-in-law Poonam (Tanvi Azmi). Sunil and Kiran are soon to be married, and that bothers Rahul no end. He makes life hell for the love-struck couple. A near death encounter and distraught girlfriend compel Sunil to figure out a way to trick his unknown enemy.
Technically speaking, Darr isn't all there. Yes, it has a good dose of rosy allure. But a subject like this could have done with some stylish touches. But it sure has some striking moments of sheer intensity. The extensive chase between Rahul and Sunil against the throbbing tabla beats and ticking clock is, mildly put, WOW.
Also, the sequence involving Sunil and Rahul having a heart to heart in a partially drunken state is interestingly staged. But the introduction scene of Sunil -- involving him saving the day with Top Gun theme playing in the background -- is really, really lame.
Chopra is inspired by Hollywood quite a few times. The entire carrying your wife up the staircase is reminiscent of Arthur Hiller's Love Story. Not to the mention, the Cape Fear inspired climax, which is a complete bummer.
But all's forgiven once a film is declared a hit. Charming or cheesy, the audience loved all of Darr. The film benefited everyone. It added the glamour quotient in Juhi's career and further consolidated her position in the film industry. Sunny Deol snared another hit. Shah Rukh Khan's K-k-k-Kiran attained immortal popularity. Yash Chopra's reaffirmed his place as one of the hottest and most reliable filmmakers.
Melodious music is synonymous with Yash Raj Films. The classy duo of Shiv-Hari, whose exclusive compositions are mostly reserved for Chopra, scored the compelling Tu hai meri Kiran and the majestic Tu mere samne. The sweetness factor in Likha hai yeh and Chhota sa ghar is hard to miss.
Another highlight of Darr was Anupam Kher's non-stop babbling character. His cricket infused lines and jumpy energy was outrageously funny and struck a balance against the heavy proceedings of the plot. The actor bagged a Filmfare trophy for Best Actor in a Comic role for this buffoonery.
Also a National Award-winner for Best Film, Darr's biggest USP was Shah Rukh Khan's rawness. He still looked gawky and messy. His hair was perennially uncombed. He wore loose, plain shirts. His performance was super-spontaneous. Nothing came between his conviction towards the creepy nature of his role or situations. He was committed to this absurdity.
Perhaps the audience recognised this quality and loved Shah Rukh Khan for it. SRK wasn't the hero. He didn't even have as many scenes as its hero, Sunny Deol. But the film brought him maximum laurels. I wonder how would he enact the same role today, at 40.
Probably, Deol felt left out. He latter cried his role didn't shape up the way it was narrated to him. Foul play aside, it didn't require much for Deol to portray a protective and endearing beau to Kiran. His co-star Juhi never looked better. Sensuous, seductive, gorgeous, cute, vulnerable -- Juhi looked every bit of a dream girl her Kiran needed to be.
Darr isn't a classic. True. But even 12 years later, it whets your appetite as a viewer for its complete 19 reels.
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