Main Hoon Na (2004)
Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Sushmita Sen, Amrita Rao, Zayed Khan
Director: Farah Khan
Music Director: Anu Malik
Nutshell: Frothy, totally entertaining 70’s style “wholesome family entertainer”
Farah Khan maiden effort is a sparkling and unabashed attempt at pure entertainment without any aspirations of making a film except to entertain. It’s a roller coaster ride, over the top and generally a hotchpotch of films of the past, wine in a new bottle but surprisingly well executed.
The film opens with a swanky set of a television show where Mission Milap is being discussed by General Bakshi (Kabir Bedi), mission milap being steps taken to orchestrate a thaw in relations with Pakistan. However, it is apparent that not all are in favour of improving relations, not least a terrorist by the name of Raghavan who deplores the peace process and sets about storming the TV studio. Bursting onto the scene, mission impossible style, Major Ram Prasad (Shah Rukh Khan) manages to storm the studio and thwarts the terrorists but in the ensuing shoo out, his father Major Shekhar Sharma (Naseeruddin Shah) is shot by Raghavan when the Major Sharma tries to protect General Bakshi (Kabir Bedi).
We then enter the flashback era with Major Sharma recounting a tale to his son on his deathbed, which smacks of Masoom. Except that, Major Sharma’s wife was not the forgiving wife and walked out of his life with their young son on the arrival of Ram as a child to their house, upon the demise of his mother. Major Sharma’ wants ram to reunite the family. Pure popcorn.
Moving back into the present, we are informed that General Bakshi’s daughter Sanjana (Amrita Rao) needs protection from the terrorists and Major Ram is asked to protect her. On finding out that his brother Laxman also studies in the same school in Darjeeling, Ram accepts the job and Enter St Paul’s School in ravishing Darjeeling.
We now get transported to Kuch Kuch hota hai territory, college campus et al, all candyfloss and a little too syrupy. The humour is so reminiscent of KKHH including the characters like the Hindi teacher (Bindu), the principal etc that nothing comes as much of a surprise.
Ram arrives at St Paul’s as a student and much to Sanjana’s annoyance, attaches herself to her, all the while, searching for his brother. He finally realises that Lucky, the longhaired dunce is in fact his long lost brother Laxman. Sanjana nurses a secret crush on Lucky but Lucky treats her like a pal. Of course, Ram sets about ways of getting them together.
In this picture comes the new chemistry teacher Chandni (Sushmita Sen). Ram seems smitten but amusingly tongue-tied. However, with the terrorist on the anvil, we soon hark back to action and resolving Ram’s life’s dilemmas vis-à-vis Laxman and his mother.
There is no novelty in the story, in fact it borrows heavily from films of the past. Its premise is based on masoom, then moves into Kuch Kuch hota hai territory, then borrows from Kabhi Khushi kabhi Gham and finally ends up with a dose of action. But Farah Khan never set out to make anything but a fun film and to that extent, she has succeeded in giving the viewer value for money. Where she succeeds as a director is putting all the different ingredients together to make a tasty trifle, light and frothy with nothing taxing or offensive to one’s sensibilities. She also managed to inject a huge amount of humour and to an extent, nostalgia into the film. R.D Burman’s tunes from Hum Kisise kum nahin litter the score and in some respects, Main hoon na is like a tribute to Nasir Hussain’s Hum kisise kum nahin. Ram’s inability to stop himself from breaking into an R D Burman song every time Chandni makes an appearance is hilariously done and Farah khan further spoof’s the proceedings with references to “dhano’ from sholay and other such tributes to earlier films. She has a definite command on her subject, with the film maintaining a fast pace through out.
What is also very refreshing is that the film shows Pakistan in a positive light, reflecting the current mood between the two countries, which comes a welcome change from the dirge of paki-bashing films that have been inflicted on us over the years
It is Shah Rukh Khan’s film all the way. Not only does he produce the film but he is in almost every frame. He carries the film and does this ably. The film does not require a performance of any great depth but he delivers what is required, with verve and a great deal of charm.
Suniel Shetty plays Raghavan with fierceness but without being loud. Its all caricature really, again, his entry as the chemistry professor almost another nod to Amjad Khan’s villain in Hum kisise kum Nahin. Its all fairly unbelievable stuff but who cares really.
Sushmita Sen is pure magic. She has a role, which has the job of providing the hero with an object of affection. Her role, without really being integral to the film at all, seems to have been developed with the most clarity. Farah Khan has an idea as to what she wants her to be and Sushmita transforms herself into that very object of desire. She looks stunning and carries herself like the true star that she is. There is only one tender scene shared between Shahrukh and Sushmita, sitting on the steps, pondering whether ram should tell Laxman as to who he is. Short as it is, it shows the very real chemistry (pun not intended) that exists between Sush and Shahrukh.
Zayed Khan fits the bill and has improved vastly from his debut. He has a presence and by and large, performs with a fair deal of confidence. Amrita Rao shows tremendous potential for growth. She has a quality about her, which has sparks of Madhuri Dixit and one looks forward to seeing her develop further.
The music fits the bill and although unexceptional, has caught on in a big way. On the whole, Main hoon na is simply a 70s style potboiler, done with tremendous style, resulting in sparkling entertainment. This is cinema as it was meant to be…realism can take a hike, we are just here for the fun..and fun it sure is.