Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor , Preity Zinta, Gracy Singh
Director: Honey Irani
Music Director: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Synopsis: Mature, seriously presented hospital based romance with top performers
Armaan is basically a mature love story set in a hospital which endeavours to be different through its treatment and execution and to some extent achieves this through the director’s deft touch and a uniformly excellent cast
The hospital is run by Dr Siddharth Sinha (Amitabh Bachchan).Ailing with a heart complaint, Dr Siddharth keeps this from others as he is keen to raise funds for his hospital and does not consider that anyone would be willing to invest if they tknew that he was suffering from a possibly fatal illness. Son Akash (Anil Kapoor) is a neuro-surgeon who works with his father and with whom he shares an effecting father son relationship. Except that Akash is adopted and Dr Siddarth never married because the condition placed on him by his prospective pa in law was that he should give up his adopted son.
Anaesthetist Neha (Gracy Singh) joins the hospital and soon, romance blossoms between Akash and Neha almost literally over a scalpel and an operated brain. Unfortunately, destiny has other things in store for Akash. A chance meeting with Soniya (Preity Zinta), alters the course of his life with Soniya blitzing his life like a hurricane obliterating all in its path!. Soniya is the only daughter of multi-millionaire Gulshan Kapoor (Randhir Kapoor) and is a spoilt brat beyond belief. Resembling a geisha girl, Soniya gets what she wants and in one meeting, she has set her mind of acquiring Akash as her pet poodle!. Insisting on a race with Akash, which really should have sent shudders down his spine at the demented behaviour exhibited by this brat, Soniya is heard off screen letting out a scream. The following scene has her laid up in Akash’s hospital with a broken leg, clutching onto Akash whenever possible, much to Neha’s disgust.
Soniya makes her wishes known to father who summons Dr Siddharth over to help him with raising funds for his hospital. Father returns despondent although the reason for this is not known to Akash until later. The film reaches its turning point when father succumbs to a heart attack and Akash is informed of the financial problems faced by the hospital. It is then that the truth is revealed, that Soniya’s father was willing to fund the hospital if Akash marries Soniya. Dilemma time for Akash. Does he marry Neha or does he ditch her for the sake of the hospital. It was his father’s dream to build a great hospital; so does he sacrifice his love for his father’s dream? Well no surprises as to which option Akash takes and, as his father had sacrificed his love for his son, his son sacrifices Neha and marries the poisonous and unstable Neha. The nightmare then begins for Akash who is trapped in a marriage with a highly possessive and unpredictable Soniya who is determined to rid Neha from Akash’s life.
Honey Irani’s film does not throw up anything new and in fact, could easily have been one of those oldies like the “Dil apna aur preet parayee”, the triangle with Meena Kumari, Raaj Kumar and Nadira. However, Honey Irani conjure up a neat package, well knit together and a notch above from the routine formulaic stuff that is churned out in bollywood much of the time. Yet, the pace is languid and there is not much drama that is engaging as such in the first half of the film. Many of the scenes between the doctors are well executed and some side characters give the film a feeling of real people rather than the usual cardboard cliched lot that one is accustomed to. The film picks up with the entry of the volatile and unpredictable Preity who plays in essence, the role that would be played by Shashikalas and Bindus or indeed Nadira in the past. The film is less good when it touches upon the dilemmas faced by doctors. Akash’s financial predicament and the story of money in exchange of some favour, either marrying daughter or saving ailing mother etc is as old as the hills, seen in varying forms in several older Bollywood flicks and does not lend itself well to what is purporting to be a film on doctors. You have another dilemma when the spoilt brat ends up, yet again on a stretcher requiring brain surgery and whether Akash should perform the surgery or not. Lucky for Akash that it turns out the way he does because ultimately, he has his cake and eats it too! There is not a great deal of depth although at times, one feels a sense of heaviness in the proccedings.
The cast is uniformly good with Amitabh in a small role but making a mark with yet another restrained performance. Anil Kapoor on the other hand comes up with a restrained and very fine performance, probably one of his finest in a very long time. Preity Zinta is effective and actually carries off her character with great aplomb. This is not a role which most conventional heroines would touch with a barge pole and the fact that she is able to make her vicious and vindictive character one which the audience has some sympathy for, is a feather in her cap. She is an unstable and completely dysfunctional character, damaged by a past which is slowly revealed as the film soldiers on. Randhir Kapoor is also extremely good as the understanding yet indulgent father who realises the shortcomings of his child and yet, continues to indulge her out to his own guilt at her upbringing. Gracy Singh has a very straight character, the conventional goody goody heroine but creates a good balance between the unstable Soniya and the committed Neha, the character she plays.
The music from Shankar Ehsaan Loy also has a freshness about it although three songs have been given the chop. No item numbers which in itself is a refershing change. Javed Akhtar’s dialogues and lyrics are well written. Worth a peek but not a film that is going to be remembered in years to come as anything but a modest and engaging film, sincerely made and pleasant enough.