Main Prem ki Diwani…


Main Prem ki Diwani Hoon (2003)
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan
Director: Sooraj Barjataya
Music Director: Anu Malik
Nutshell: An updated version of Basu Chatterji’s humourous classic Chitchor


Old wine in a new bottle..isnt that the most over used adage to describe most of the films that get churned out in Bollywood. Either that or then the customary “inspiration” which Bollywood directors get from Hollywood. MPKDH falls into the first category and seeks to revisit the golden age of Rajshri films and revamping it for the audiences today.

Sanjana (Kareena Kapoor) is the daughter of Pankaj Kapoor and Himani Shivpuri, anxious parents who want their daughter to marry well, her elder sister Rupa (Tanaaz Currim) having married and settled abroad. However, Sanjana is a girl of today, defiant and boisterous, clear that she will make her own choices. Well, the modern age brings us an e mail and Sis Rupa informs her father from the States that Prem Kumar, a multi millionaire in the States is looking for a bride and will be arriving, of all places, to Sundernagar in the four days. The modern age has also resulted in the most hideous and ridiculous of inventions for the screen…a computer generated parrot who only speaks in Hindi film titles.

Mother goes into an avaricious frenzy… a prize catch for her daughter, she sets about making sure that Sanjana will make an impression on Prem. Sanjana is most unhappy but follows her mother’s moronic commands. Four days elapse and in walks Prem (Hrithik Roshan), in a total frenzy, as if he is on speed. Loud and over exuberant, Prem falls for Sanjana instantaneously, as if he was coming for that. But hey, he was, wasn’t he? There follows the usual love-hate scenario between the two but we all know what’s going to happen. The director stretches this out for a full two hours in which we endure the crassest of crass screen romances. What happened to normality, of dinners out, of movies to be seen…even “You are my soniya” from k3g looked real compared to the pathetic “love Boat” competition that forms a climax of the first half, when Prem decides to mutilate his body with a tattoo of his love on his arm. Doesn’t really send out the right signals to youngsters today…what with aids and needles etc.

Anyways, Pops receives another e mail from Sis in the States who says that Prem was unable to make it and will now be coming with mother in tow, to look at Sanjana. All hell breaks loose. Sanjana has now succumbed to the brash charms of Prem No 1 but who is he? Mother decides she will rifle through Prem’s things and finds out that he is also Prem..but as it turns out, he is merely an employee of Prem No 2, the multi millionaire. Mother decides that she won’t tell Sanjana about the mix-up and father reluctantly goes along with it. Prem no 1 has to push off to Delhi but asks Sanjana to look after his “Boss” who is also his “friend, philosopher, guide…”

Sanjana obliges but soon we have Prem No 2 (Abhishek Bachchan) also falling for Sanjana with Mother doing her utmost to push this match. But what of poor ol Sanjana..she has given her heart to Prem no 1, now how is she expected to switch to Prem no 2. Can this be fair, having been against it but encouraged by her mother. What now?

For those of you who have been brought up on Bollywood cinema, it will not be difficult which film this is seeking to remodel and rework, a classic of the 70s..Chitchor. That Amol Palekar-Zarina Wahab Basu Chatterjee directed film was a light comedy, put together where story, dialogue and simplicity gelled to make a refreshing and evergreen film. MPKDH is almost a pastiche, a devastation of all things gone wrong when you tamper with the original. This is not a “reworking of Devdas”, a la Bhansali, who gave his film a different interpretation and to a great extent, was able to infuse a different life into his film, a worthy effort if somewhat shallow. MPKDH has no such merits. Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum aapke hain kaun” was very much an experimental film which defied the norms of conventional bollywood cinema within bollywood. It used every trick in the book to win the audience, but with a remarkable and very basic simplicity.

The structure of the film was also fit for a film of that nature…big sets, lots of characters, balanced by the underplaying of the two lead performers. MPKDH uses the same structure used by HAHK but ostensibly modernised by virtue of the fact that we don’t have our heroine clad in sarees and ghagra cholis through out the film or devoted to pooja s and other good things that nice gharelu girls do…ours likes to wear skirts, go deep sea diving, bungee jumping, white water rafting…Oh, there is some talk of sex and one scene with a couple kissing…but is that that makes this modern..not really. This is simply icing on the cake which is made exactly the same way that it has been for the past three efforts that Mr Barjatya has offered us. We have the same large sets, large houses and college stages…we have the usual two stage items for “College competitions”….the oldest trick in the book to show your heroine off in the unlikeliest way…we had the antakshri in HAHK, we have the “Love boat” valentines day competition here, dull to the extreme. Nothing much happens until an event changes the track. The director then spends a little time pondering the emotional consequences and comes to a hasty conclusion shortly thereafter.

Sooraj Barjatya is just not able to break away from what must be his very simple roots. Who wants him to and he more than anyone could have done justice to a remake of “chitchor” had he kept the treatment simple and not be diverted by making his film an overblown garish and overlong saga of mistaken identity…. Subtlety takes a back seat. He resorts to the usual cheap effects of a parrot, completely unnecessary and an irritant but perhaps Sooraj feels that the parrot will go down a storm with the front benchers. What was the need for cartoon animation when it came to the dog. But these are small little irritants that the film could have done without. The film suffers because it is simply too loud. Hrithik Roshan’s character is not endearing as much as it is annoying. Boom boom boom, the pace is just too fast…. Barjatya has a great plot but labours it until the point of intermission when Prem No 2 arrives on the scene. Two hours of songs and over the top situations. The second half becomes marginally more interesting but how one wishes that the shenanigans between the three lead players could have been brought about a little earlier and not followed the rather clichéd path that it does take. In fact, I came home thinking of “Na tum Jaano na Hum” which to some extent, had similarities to this film and to be frank, unsuccessful as it was, NTJNH was a film with much greater depth and a great deal more charm in it than this one.

Hrithik Roshan plays Prem as a loud and over exuberant character with a frenzy that takes the film over its edge. He plays it very well but the character is just too boisterous. I like Hrithik Roshan and think that he makes a tremendous effort in all his roles. In MPKDH, there is no balance to his role…its simply loud. And I wish he was not always so well preened in every scene. hair in place. The same goes for Kareena and her glossy make up and lipstick which shines, in fact glares at you throughout the film. Kareena Kapoor has a great role but she does nothing with it for most of the film. Its all expressions and faces, the ones that we have now seen umpteen times. It is only towards the end of the film when Hrithik and Kareena have a couple of scenes together that there is any semblance of real drama in the film. Abhishek Bachchan comes off a little better than he usually does in his gormless roles. He plays Prem No 2 like he is, introverted, decent and understated. This is not a bad effort. Pankaj Kapoor as Sanjana’s father perhaps comes the closest to any semblance of real character. Himani Shivpuri’s mother is a caricature of over anxious mothers who want their daughters to marry well.

Much has been made out of the music of this film. Well, the music does grow on you but it is not a particularly good score at all, well below Anu’s standards. There is no “maine koi jaado nahin kiya” or “rabba mere rabba” here to take the score to dizzying heights. It has sold well, it is different but it’s actually a very pedestrian score.

I hope the film does well for Hrithik and Abhishek’s sake. Both need to be given a break.