Arjun Rampal broods mightily when he cannot get Aishwarya Rai in the fairly entertaining `Dil Ka Rishta`.
A star`s home production usually requires you to brace yourself for the efforts of a dubiously talented family member -- say, son or daughter -- piggybacking on the success of the star. So when you hear that `Dil Ka Rishta`, starring Aishwarya Rai, is produced by brother Aditya Rai and written by mother Vrinda Rai (with Shabbir Boxwala), both cinema novices, you (uncharitably) wonder if they`re simply trying to cash in on the hotter-than-ever status of the `Devdas` heroine.
Not quite, it turns out, for Mama Rai knows just how to serve the oldest of wines -- Gulzar`s `Kinara` and Anubav Sinha`s `Tum Bin` are both in the same vein -- in an attractive new bottle.
Jai (Arjun Rampal) is one of those sensitive millionaires who flies down from Cape Town to Mumbai just to be with Dad on his long-gone mother`s birthday. Dad (Paresh Rawal, in his usual good form) is the fun-loving type -- asking people to pose for a picture, he says `paneer` because `Cheese bolne se angrezi smile aati hai. Paneer bolne se Indian muskurahat aati hai.` -- but the son is a moper who has long talks with Mommy`s jewellery and shows little interest in tying the knot.
That is, of course, until he runs into Tia (Aishwarya Rai). His (and the audience`s) first sighting of her is while she plays basketball in a white dress, flashing a dazzling smile, her hair waving about in slow-motion. Naturally, it`s love at first sight. But he then discovers that Tia prefers the resolutely middle-class, motorcycle-driving Raj (Priyanshu Chatterjee).
Oh no, you think, yet another love triangle! But, as I said, the writers know how to rework cliches ever so little and make them engaging, and a storyline that would appear to hold no surprises turns out a wee bit unexpected.
Will Jai become an obsessed lover like Shah Rukh Khan in `Darr`? Or simply shut up and retreat like Anil Kapoor in `Lamhe`? You know, thanks to your years of `masala` movie watching, that Jai and Tia have to get together by the end, but how?
The possibilities are intriguing and the first half, especially, weaves together laughter and tears quite skillfully.
The Raj-Tia sequences are good fun, with Priyanshu displaying a flair for comedy. Rampal too acquits himself nicely in the dramatics department. (For Aishwarya, though, this is one of those films that relies more on her iconic screen presence than her performance.) It`s interesting that the mandatory best-friend-of-the-hero is a woman (Ishaa Koppikar) who really is `just a friend.` (She`s also a micro-mini-wearing `samaj sevak`, but let`s not go there!) And there are glossy diversions like the well-staged `Daiya Re` number.
Things take expectedly mushy turns towards the climax. A few too many ishq-dil-saajan songs slow down the pace. Vaguely-written characters like Tia`s mother (Raakhee, glowering mercilessly) pop up unexpectedly. Everything becomes quite predictable as you realize what the final dramatic conflict is going to be.
But the climax itself is restrained, without too much of the waterworks. Plus, with Aishwarya and Arjun lolling around in eye-popping South African locations, there`s tons of big-screen distraction, courtesy cinematographer Ashok Mehta.
Like Nadeem-Shravan`s unremarkable but easy-on-the-ears score, `Dil Ka Rishta` provides undemanding entertainment. Director-editor Naresh Malhotra orchestrates a smooth flow of sequences with no item numbers, no comedy track, no fights, and wraps it all up in a mercifully short two-and-a-half hours. That`s more than what can be said of most of the dreck we`ve seen of late.
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