Moneybags Amrish Puri tries to separate son-in-law Anil Kapoor from his son in the hopelessly cliched `Rishtey`.
The instant `Rishtey` opens, there`s high-decibel drama (literally, for drums pound in the soundtrack) as Suraj (Anil Kapoor) is shown running with his infant son. Some goons give chase and a fight sequence follows. Then you have the title song `Rishta Tera`, one of numerous Sanjeev-Darshan ditties (save the catchy `Deewana Ho Jaaye`) that are leaden with Nadeem-Shravanish monotony whose picturisation shows Suraj settling down amidst time-tested neighbours like the jovial Sardar and the impossibly-loving, elderly mother-figure.
There you have it, a crash course on what the Mumbai `masala` formula is all about drama, fight, song, sentiment in just the first fifteen minutes, which makes you expect a typically loud, but effective, Indra Kumar film. The director of `Dil` and `Beta` is anything but subtle, but he`s capable of delivering the emotional goods, evident here and there in some moderately-affecting moments, as when Suraj goes happily berserk upon hearing his son`s first utterance or is plunged in sorrow when the child is diagnosed as physically handicapped.
Then comes a crucial scene in which Suraj makes his son leg braces and all participate in a school race, despite protests from his doctor. `Mera bachcha daudega bhi aur jeetega bhi!`, he exclaims, completely oblivious to the kind of pressure he`s putting on the boy, and you lose any sympathy you had for Suraj. Worse, this supposedly emotional sequence, with the kid`s tearful `mere papa` speech and a banal song, elicits sniggers instead of tears from the audience.
This is where the film begins to come apart, and the subsequent disintegration of `Rishtey` occurs very quickly. It`s now time to pay a visit to brooding mama Komal (Karisma Kapoor), who makes a dramatic entry playing a violin, in a black sari that billows as spectacularly as the unending yards of white curtains in her mansion. (You know the story by now: Rich girl. Poor guy. Marriage. Split. Tug-of-war over son.) This, like the race, is again such a phony scene, existing simply for impact, for she`s never shown with a violin ever again, nor do we ever learn anything about her musical inclinations (other than the inevitable penchant for duets, of course).
This sort of sloppiness is all over the writing, with only the supporting cast allowed to provide some colour. Jagdeep, seen after a long while, cuts a sharp cameo as a fisherman and Sadashiv Amrapurkar, playing a gold-toothed lawyer, gets the script`s sole funny line when he advises his client to stay calm in court, for `Suraj to baahar aa gaya, kahin aisa na ho aapko andar jaana pade`.
The lead roles are maddeningly stereotypical, and also very inconsistent. In a flashback, Komal is shown clawing out the eyes of some floozy who hits on Suraj, but this aggression is nowhere when she battles her husband for custody of their child. She`s content to simply leave everything to daddy (Amrish Puri, in full-tilt bellow mode).
However weird her character`s behaviour, Karisma Kapoor looks lovely and emotes well. All she needs now is to get over her current obsession of adding every possible outdated story of marital discord to her resume. (Remember `Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya` earlier this year?)
Anil Kapoor is in his usual fine form as the father praying for his son, applying salves on the child`s legs but is completely out of place while practicing his profession of a WWF-style boxer. Would you cast this actor when your script requires him to go one-on-one with Bob Christo types named Scorpio?
The earnest Shilpa Shetty is also miscast. She plays Vyjayanti, the world`s shapeliest, most glamourous fisherwoman, talking in Mumbai slang (`devaa`, `aaiga`, `jhakaas`), and you cannot help thinking how much better things would have been with someone less va-va-voomish. She`s certainly come a long way as an actress, but who is this character exactly? Is she a comic relief? An extra heroine for songs when Komal is absent? A character-actor type who suddenly begins talking to God to make things right for Suraj?
Like Vyjayanti, `Rishtey` is over-the-top and confused. Like Vyjayanti, `Rishtey` with snazzy cinematography by Baba Azmi is all body, no soul. You don`t take Vyjayanti seriously, and you don`t take `Rishtey` with its giggle-worthy moments like the pressure cooker `seeti` going off to underline a dramatic moment seriously either.
No one`s expecting art-film realism, but what good is a flick about relationships that doesn`t elicit even a bit of genuine emotion from you?
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