Karisma finds it difficult to give up her ex, Abhishek, in yet another triangular go-around.
`Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya`
Shiv Kapoor (Abhishek Bachchan) and Pooja (Karisma Kapoor) are happily married, even if her excessive love for him makes her overly jealous and possessive. Things then happen that cause the two to drift apart and Pooja becomes the secretary of Raj Malhotra (Akshay Kumar), a famous film star. Just as the Pooja-Raj pair seems to be clicking, Shiv reappears, resulting in the usual triangular confusion.
Abhishek Bachchan`s entry in HMBPK reminded me of Shashi Kapoor. Bachchan`s on this bike, belting out one of the by-the-numbers ditties by Nadeem-Shravan. He doesn`t just sing, he does this whole side-to-side, hand-flailing, who-cares-if-I-crash jiving routine that Shashi used to do over and over (remember `Ek raa-aa-sta-aa hai zindagi`?).
Why discuss Shashi in something that he isn`t in? Because the actor breathed life into the most cliched of films with his infectious ebullience. Never mind how over-the-top the stories were, you always felt that this guy believed wholeheartedly in what he was doing, and that gave tremendous conviction to his portrayals.
Abhishek, on the other hand, seems embarrassed doing the mandatory five-songs-three-fights workout. Either that, or he was plain uninspired by this umpteenth retread of the love triangle. So we have a listless hero we`re supposed to root for.
Which wouldn`t matter as much if the things around him were more interesting. Let`s face it, we all know how the film`s going to end. (If you have any doubts whether Pooja will end up with the guy with whom she undertook the `saat pheras` or some suave, Johnny-come-lately, you really need to crawl out from under that rock and see more films!) It`s how the screenplay lays out the events leading to this inevitable conclusion that should make it worth your while.
An early portion of the film shows Shiv praying to Bhagwan Shiv to help him get a job. This scene is countered with one where Pooja prays to Parvati for the same job. This preps you for the usually amusing war-of-the-genders that occurs before people fall in love in the movies.
But these shenanigans play like stale leftovers and a been-there-done-that feeling is everywhere. Take this sequence, for instance. Due to nature`s fury, a young couple is forced to stay at a hotel. The hearth is aglow with a brisk fire. Before you can say `Roop tera mastana`, the two drape themselves in sheets and become victims of their lust.
You don`t mind that this is the kind of film in which Shiv is looking for a job one day and becomes General Manager the next, but director Dharamesh Darshan stages his scenes with utmost blandness. Where`s the man who brought so much heat to the `Pardesi, pardesi` sequence that you even overlooked the illogic in a filthy rich heroine eloping with a taxi driver named `Raja Hindustani`?
Karisma, who reinvented herself in the latter film as a heroine to look out for, is largely exasperating here. Her performance consists mostly of high-pitched theatrics. Keeping her company in the louder-is-better department are Mohnish Behl, as Pooja`s brother, and the trio of Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor and Himani Shivpuri, playing Raj`s staff.
After his risky negative role in `Ajnabee`, Akshay handles another unconventional characterisation here that`s just like Anil Kapoor`s in `Taal`, but nowhere as well-written. Still, he manages to paint a figure who`s the most interesting of the bunch. And it`s a relief to watch the refreshingly low-key Simone Singh in a bit role as Meghna, someone who causes Pooja much heartache. She has a good presence and it would be interesting to see her in bigger parts.
Darshan has repeatedly shown an interest in a flawed character trait propelling the dynamics of his on-screen relationships. `Dhadkan` was based on Sunil Shetty`s obsession. `Raja Hindustani` had the relative insecurity of Aamir. But it`s not enough to simply have an interesting character if the storytelling is so run-of-the-mill.
How run-of-the-mill you ask? Well, when Shiv shows up again in the second half, he sports a stubble, that hoariest of Bollywoodian signs that a man is pining for a lost love. I guess we must be thankful that he hasn`t started to hit the bottle. Now that would have made Pooja`s climactic decision so much more difficult, you see!
HMBPK isn`t unbearably offensive, just so predictable that it doesn`t even qualify as a guilty pleasure. Bachchan`s going to have to choose his films with more care to have the slightest hope of living up to his dad`s name.
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