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June 17, 1999


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A treat to watch

Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Click for bigger pic!
Sanjay Leela Bhansali loves music. If his first film Khamoshi had been sold as a musical, there is no reason why Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam shouldn't have been. But without quibbling over details, we must tell you it's a treat to watch.

As in innumerable films, the story's about a love triangle. But the subject has been handled well and the actors perform up to par. Ah, before we forget, it's also a tearjerker.

Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) is a daughter of a royal singer (Vikram Gokhale). In the opening scene we catch the heroine engaged in a boisterous game, giving us idea about her temperament. And it emerges that she's playful, hot-tempered, outspoken and a little spoilt. And she believes she has the right to choose her husband since she's the one getting married.

Sameer (Salman Khan) comes down from Italy to learn singing from the father and falls in love with the daughter. He also is picturised as a mischievous type, for whom dancing and singing is all that matters. That seems to exasperate the girl at times.

A still from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Click for bigger pic!
There's also a lawyer who is in love with her, Vanraj (Ajay Devgan). His family proposes marriage and Nandini's parents accept. The hitch here is that just when Sameer was drumming up the courage to speak to a prospective father-in-law, he discovers the girl's to be wedded elsewhere. The father objects to Sameer since he's already given Vanraj the green signal. And so Nandini and Vanraj get married.

Then Vanraj learns about Sameer and decides he doesn't want to live with a woman who's plighted her troth to someone else. So he takes her to Italy with the intention of dumping her on Sameer...

The film is replete with festivities. First there's Diwali, then a marriage, and then a kite-flying festival. There is colour everywhere. And it's a happy atmosphere most of the time with people singing and dancing and joking.

Rajasthan and Budapest have been exploited to the fullest here. Even the desert looks beautiful in its starkness and the mud walls of the houses have been livened up with clothes in bright colours.

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Aishwarya looks beautiful as usual. She can carry off any kind of dress and still manage to pass of as a spoilt brat. In the first half of the film, if anything, she prances around too much. You get exhausted just watching her. This film will most likely draw her accolades from all over, maybe even get her recognised as an actress the way Manisha Koirala did in Khamoshi. In many scenes, there is no trace of makeup and she looks very fresh.

Salman is endearing. He does tend to ham in the dramatic scenes but looks very comfortable doing comedy and those romantic scenes. He is especially good when he comes to the haveli for the first time and meets the singer. Asked to sing, he does an impromptu jig right there in the dining room and manages to draw some laughs.

Ajay's role reminds you of one he did in another film, Pyar Tho Hona Hi Tha. There he is searching for the boyfriend of the girl he secretly loves. But intense scenes are his forte and he does well here. He's particularly good in the scene where he gets exasperated with his wife's stubbornness and strives to keep his cool.

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The only thing that irritates you a bit is the thunder that accompanies Sameer's queries to his dead father. A clap of thunder passes for a 'yes' and another for a 'no'. That comes across as a bit corny.

The surprise in the film is that siren of the yesteryear Helen, who also acted in Bhansali's Khamoshi where she played Manisha's grandmother and Nana Patekar's mother. She plays Salman's mother this time.

The nicest things about this film are the songs and the cinematography. Ismail Darbar's songs are well-researched and he has relied heavily on Rajasthani folk music. The song Aankhon is gustakhiyan is beautifully picturised. Another good song is the title song. Dholi taro, which comes bang in the middle of a serious scene, tends to jar. By itself, again, like the other songs, it's beautifully picturised.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has proved again that he has mastered emotional subjects. This film, like his first one, is sensitively handled and keeps things tight, concentrating on just three characters. The rest just come and go. He has avoided digressing into the cliches other films wallow in -- khandan ki izzat and all that.

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He just lets you know the father dislikes being disobeyed but the old man realises that by marrying off his daughter to keep his traditions intact he has lost her completely. The family almost slips out of the picture after the marriage.

There are some cliches on view, like the scene wherein the heroine is in a quandary during the karva chauth ceremony, since she is in love with someone else. Another is the meeting of the husband and the lover, without knowing each other's identity. The husband doesn't even bother to learn the other man's name. There are more but we needn't go on about it.

Throughout the film, the pace is maintained nicely and though it gets heavy at times, there are jokes to relieve lighten things up. Fortunately, there are no bumbling comedians.

The one serious complaint against this film could be that it's too long, lasting all of three hours. But otherwise, it's one nice movie.

The Real audio clip of the song Aankhon is gustakhiyan

The Salman Khan profile

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