Directed by Subhash Ghai
This was the first Bollywood movie I saw. The plot is one of the dumbest, but not in a typical rom-com fashion like in Dil to Pagal Hai—it just goes on forever, following its silly little twists to what only feels like an anticlimax. Strangely enough, the music is some of the best you will hear, and is certainly the best I have heard from A.R. Rehman, the current Bollywood composer of great renown. I’m not even going to waste much time on the plot except to say it combines rich boy-poor girl, parents’ disapproval, rags–to-riches “Star is Born,” and country mouse-city mouse type story arcs. None of these feed the imagination like the sprawling plot attempts of earlier Bollywood. In fact, it seems that current filmmakers have lost the vision those earlier ones had. The great thing about previous Bollywoods was that they could cover at least two generations and multiple meaningful plot points. I’m sorry, but country mouse/city mouse and rags-to-riches tend to be pretty one-dimensional (hopefully I won’t contradict myself in the future). Aishwarya Rai does star, so that may give it some value, even though I don’t think she holds a candle to Madhuri or any female star before Madhuri. The best scene in the whole movie is when Ash’s character goes to a friends’ wedding. This is also the best song—“Ishq Bina.” Men and women take turns singing and dancing; Ash and the male lead in love with her avoid and then connect with each other, most hilariously over a bottle of Coke.
Song Highlights: A.R. Rehman was in a rock band before he became a Bollywood composer, and this shows through in much of his music: he is fusing styles in new ways, which is how Bollywood music evolves—so I’ve nothing against it. It means his songs are very easily absorbed by Western ears, since he uses a rock/pop beat for many and understands how to make a memorable tune. It’s a great CD to put on for the background at a party (not a rave; a party. Ha! As if I’ve ever been to rave and would know).
Rating: I should rate it higher, since it is the first one I saw and I was immediately entranced. In spite of that, the storyline is so lame I would not want this to be what everyone judged Bollywood on. [yes, it’s a dangling participle. They are no longer unequivocally evil]
Library Collection: Not necessary unless the patrons want it. Otherwise, the soundtrack is a definite must.