Hamara Dil Aapke Pas Hai (2000)
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai, Sonali Bendre
Director: Satish Kaushik
Music: Sanjeev Darshan
Nutshell: sensitively made and well acted, finally a slightly more mature film
Reviewed by: Faiz Khan
The film opens with what appears to be a game of happy families. In fact, there is a risible song “its my family” which strives to drive home the point that we have a very happy and normal family here. Father Avinash (Anil Kapoor), mother Preeti (Aishwarya Rai) and two kids.
However, this is soon torn apart as Preeti is arrested by the police for being a prostitute. On hearing this, Avinash goes to the police station, uses his fists and is told that it was his father who had levelled this accusation at her. Avinash confronts his father with Preeti and his father asks him what his relationship with her is.
Time for flashback. Preeti was raped by a local goonda and after being shunned by her family for having shamed them, she goes to a friend only to find that everyone is talking about her rape. Even in this day and age, there is little sympathy with the woman and she is shunned by society. Avinash gives her a home and a job. Her life is rehabilitated. His two children are in fact his father’s children from a clandestine relationship with his secretary and whom Avinash has taken into his home after their mother dies and his father chooses not to acknowledge them. Avinash offers to marry Preeti when people start to gossip about them but also loves her. However, Preeti feels that this is yet another “upkar” that he is bestowing on her and refuses. Enter third leg to the triangle, the USA returned Khushi (Sonali) who is Avinash’s childhood friend and intent on marrying him. Aha, the eternal triangle.
Will Khushi win out or will Preeti be forced to admit that she loves Avinash. Satish Kaushik follows Hum aapke dil mein rehte hain with a film with a similar feel… and spins an old fashioned melodrama with a great deal of control and finesse. You aren’t looking for realism but the film does have something to say about double standards with regard to rape. Also, your rape victim here is not the dagger wielding, blood thirsty “Zakhmi aurat” but someone who has a silent strength to carry on although still vulnerable because of the dictates of our hypocritical society. Yes, we do get the sermons but mercifully, it’s not from the heroine but from her protector, the hero.
The point is driven home although not necessarily with the greatest of sensitivity. The first half of the film is almost riveting. The film is woven in such a manner that at intermission, expectations are sky high. And because of that, the second half is a bit of a letdown. The film deviates from its main theme and loses steam when the character of Khushi is introduced. This is necessary to get the main narrative moving but in the process, the film loses some of its edge.
Anil Kapoor comes up with a mature and understated performance, perhaps one of his most accomplished in recent years. Aishwarya Rai is simply so beautiful that it is difficult to notice anything or anyone else when she is on screen. Hers is also a good performance, controlled and devoid of hysteria. Sonali’s role is very much like that of Sarfarosh where she plays a ditzy airhead. Here, she is simply irritating.
My biggest complaint and criticism of the film is the completely unnecessary comedy track that flows through the film. If you cut every scene in the film, the film would 25 minutes shorter and much more effective. Instead, you play to the gallery and give the public what you think they want…and each and every time, it breaks the momentum although what the director probably thought was that it provided relief after the intensity of the preceding scenes.
The music is not bad but not great. The title song is well tuned and beautifully picturised. Fortunately, they have cut the dreadful “I love you ” track, retaining just one or two lines from it. Two of the better songs have been cut from the film so what’s left in the film is a rather ordinary score. I would recommend the film. Its well put together and I think it will do very well.