Ritesh Deshmukh discovers that girl-next-door Genelia D`Souza could be more than just a friend in the entertaining `Tujhe Meri Kasam`.
Newcomer Ritesh Deshmukh reminds you of Fardeen Khan. He has the same bland screen presence with a similarly personable-enough face, so he remains engaging whenever on screen even if he slips out of your consciousness the minute you exit the theatre.
Aware of his limitations, he wisely doesn`t seek to explode in his screen debut the way Hrithik Roshan did. He`s chosen the Tusshar Kapoor route instead, by locating an amiable regional language success featuring a guy-next-door hero, and having director K. Vijaya Bhaskar repackage it as a bright, colourful production.
The promotional material for `Tujhe Meri Kasam` insists that `It`s Not A Love Story`. But people suddenly stop in their tracks and spout about true love. A college professor advises his students that the temple is the best place for a boy to declare his love to a girl. (Because that`s where she will not be wearing slippers!) And the teen hero of this tale gets life lessons from his cook along the lines of `Pyaar kiya to darna nahin!`
A love story this unabashedly is, and a rather sweet one. Rishi (Ritesh Deshmukh) and neighbour Anju (Genelia D`Souza, who surely deserves some sort of award for not rechristening herself with a more Bollywoodian name) share the same birthday. Their fathers are `langotiyaa yaar`. Their mothers get along fabulously. They are best friends in the truest `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai` tradition, and it doesn`t take a genius to figure out where their relationship is headed, despite obvious red herrings like a girl who falls for Rishi and a guy who woos Anju.
This straightforward, even trite, storyline is served up with a lot of entertainment value. Chief among the small pleasures of `Tujhe Meri Kasam` is the writing. The crisp screenplay lays out a fun first half that perfectly captures the rowdy boisterousness of college life -- there`s a very funny scene in which a pompous Ruby Bhatia gets ragged on campus -- and a sentimental-but-not-too-soggy second half, with Neeraj Vora`s breezy dialogues aiding immeasurably. (`Tu ladki hai ya Indian team ki wicket. Baar baar girti rehti hai!`, says Rishi to a girl who keeps tripping up, and anyone who`s watching what`s currently happening in New Zealand can`t help but wince at the truth in this humour.)
The leads fit into the overall scheme of things with pleasing characterisations, without calling attention to either phenomenal strengths or gaping weaknesses. D`Souza, especially, is quite charming in the lighter moments. It`s nice to see Anooradha Patel back on screen looking as gorgeous as ever, and other supporting players like Satish Shah and Sushma Seth have done this sort of thing too long for them to strike a false note in their performances.
The only major irritant is a rather broad comedy track that`s been stretched beyond belief. With Jaspal Bhatti playing a `balle balle` Sardar and Supriya Pilgaonkar as an `arrey devaa` Maharashtrian, these scenes combine the expected stereotypical humour -- `Philishtick!`, she exclaims delightedly, when gifted a tube of lipstick -- with some truly weird electronic squeaks and screams in the background. But, as if to compensate, the songs (including the Ishaa Koppikar item number without which no film is complete these days) don`t intrude too much on the goings-on.
Despite an oh-so-convenient dramatic twist at the interval stage, despite Viju Shah`s not-too-hot score (only the title track stands out), despite asking the audience to accept ex-chaddi-wearing-Govinda-sidekick Shakti Kapoor as a practicing physician, `Tujhe Meri Kasam` is an entertaining ode to young love with some genuinely affecting developments and without designer clothes.
That a small film like this should come out of nowhere and prove a very decent watch is surely a good way to begin a new year of movie-watching.
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