Saw Dil (1990) last night, starring Aamir Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Anupam Kher, Saeed Jaffry, and others, directed by Indra Kumar, and with music by Anand-Milind. Ms. Dixit became a household name a couple of years prior to this, with the song Ek Do Teen in Tezaab (1988) taking over every music chart in India that mattered. But her fine performance in Dil (for which she won her first Filmfare Best Actress award), coupled with fine performances by everyone in the film, made this one for the ages. It also meant Madhuri has since 1990 been in my dil (for what it's worth), atop my list of favorite actresses.
1. Hazari Prasad (Anupam Kher) used to worship money. Quite literally. All he wanted was to marry his son to a wealthy man's daughter. And he was miserly to the extent that he did justice to the popular term that is often used to describe the miserly, kanjoos makkhi choos (the term is associated with exactly this kind of behavior, to refer to a person so miserly that he/she would consume a beverage despite a fly having fallen in it).
2. Hazari Prasad's son Raja (Aamir Khan) was a 'decent' player, if that makes sense.
Loved his thought process when approaching women...so harmless (here is more background on the Rakhi). If this were filmed in the U.S., there would be an approach with the term 'sister' holding more significance to the haseenas in sororities ;)
3. Raja threw a birthday party at his home. The home resembled a discotheque (Raja really made the discotheque his own, as noted in point two in my review of Love Love Love (1989), remember?). This was also where parts of the song Papa Kehte Hain from Qayaamat Se Qayaamat Tak (1988) played, followed by some Billboard hits.
The expenses associated with the party were not appreciated by Raja's father, of course. This frame makes it for Raja was whistling the Ek Do Teen tune (noted above), which served as a perfect introduction to Madhuri Dixit.
4. Madhu (Madhuri Dixit) was a new student at the college. She was beautiful but vain. And she never quite got along with Raja.
Raja would get the better of her every once in a while, but she would always rebound with a stronger response. The film spent close to 45 minutes developing their animosity, and this turned out to be one of its biggest strengths. Raja played blind to get attention...
...got some help from his Dev Anand look-alike friend...
...but Madhu was aggressive in her responses (oh dear)...
...and even posted a challenge to a fighting champion of the college on behalf of Raja.
She really wanted to see him get knocked out...
...but Raja surprised her and himself en route to showing up to the fight and winning. There was an important backdrop to this that was one of the more memorable moments in the film.
Following a dance sequence (Madhu practicing to the ever-popular Oye Oye from Tridev (1989)) in which Madhuri looked better than she did at any point in Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), this bit of dialogue led to a song.
This is partly why I liked the pairing of Aamir and Madhuri. Their expressions so effortlessly lit up the screen. They really were fantastic together.
5. In the mean time, Mr. Prasad convinced Mr. Mehra (Madhu's father) -- a very wealthy businessman -- that he was as successful a businessperson. The amount of time spent on developing their friendship was about right. Of course, Raj and Madhu didn't want any part of this, because they hated each other.
6. But things changed when they went camping to Ooty, singing the classic Bombay Se Aaya Mera Dost aboard the college bus. This was when things got slightly out of hand. Raja changed the signs outside the restrooms, and Madhu responded by crying rape the same night, an act that got Raja expelled. Well, almost. A rather well-executed sequence followed, in which Raja said something to Madhu that made her really like him (no, it did not have anything to do with love).
She withdrew her charge, but Raja ignored her until she came forth at a cocktail with this (loved the initiative!):
Following which this song formalized their love (vocals by Anuradha Paudwal and Udit Narayan):
This bit really reminded me of Aamir as DJ in Rang De Basanti (2006), with the red bike and all.
7. So Raja and Madhu were about to get engaged at a formal event for the purpose, which was when Mr. Mehra discovered Mr. Prasad had lied to him about his businesses and status. The engagement was called off, but Raja and Madhu were not about to deny themselves of their love.
8. Madhu's father got Raja arrested, so she committed a crime to get imprisoned and be with Raja.
If you are a fan of tight slaps to the face, there is plenty to appreciate in Dil. I counted at least six, not one out of place. There was an inspector named Ghalib, who true to his name, loved poetry and supported Raja and Madhu. Then there was a lovely song from behind bars.
9. One of the more dramatic wedding ceremonies ever witnessed in Indian cinema (see background of picture for a hint)...
...led to Raja and Madhu being disowned by their families. The song Hum Ne Ghar Choda Hai, with vocals by Udit Narayan and Sadhana Sargam followed:
10. Did I mention Madhu and Raja were absolutely in love, and that they looked very very much in place opposite each other? Five stars for amazing chemistry.
11. Honorable mention to the city of Bombay (as always). If you have driven by a stretch of roadway I have mentioned often, you know where this is...
...and I visited this place with my mom (Kala Niketan the saree store about a five-minute drive from our Bombay home) so frequently as a child, it's not even funny. I always gave in to the slightest of value propositions. For Colaba, the bribe was Rhythm House (see point 9 in my review of Taxi Driver (1954)). For here, the saving grace was a Dollops ice-cream (noted in this post) store next door...
12. Madhu, we love you too! Such grace. No wonder she's been emblematic of the grace and elegance that is expected of the Bhaartiya naari (Indian woman) in real life for so very long. Stunning.
13. For fear of revealing too much, here is just a song from that point through the climax (discussed below). Beautifully done all-round, O Priya Priya has vocals by Anuradha Paudwal and Suresh Wadkar.
14. In point five of my initial review of Jaane Tu, I had said that several portions in the film reminded me of sequences in some Aamir Khan films. This was perhaps the most obvious. Yes, Dil contained an airport climax too. What's more, the distance traveled and the time constraints in Jaane Tu were about the same as in Dil. Raja -- at least he rode a bike and not a horse -- was seen going from Nariman Point (part of Queen's Necklace, and the answer to the stall location in point 11 above)...
...(where a cop alerted his colleagues)...
...to a dash at the airport. See a resemblance?
Did Raja's shamelessly greedy father succeed in destroying their love? Did Madhu's father convince her to marry a longtime family friend's son? What was Madhu doing in the arms of another man when Raja went to visit her? Why did Raja agree to marry another woman? For answers to these questions and more, watch Dil. You shall not be disappointed.
At its core, Dil is a masala film that elevates the romance of two college-going lovers to a rivalry of two families. The approach to this plot, excellent performances throughout, and a remarkably well-integrated soundtrack (from the opening credits onward), made this an excellent film! This one is not only right up there with Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin (1991) and Raja Hindustani (1995) as one of Aamir's best romantic films after his debut, it is my favorite from the lot.
Movie Rating: 4.25/5 (excellent!)
My classification: PG
Music Rating: 4/5 (excellent!)
On a personal note:
Recall seeing this in June of 1990, amid the excitement that accompanied the World Cup of soccer that month.
And I do wish Madhuri and Aamir would do more films together (they did one more together, Deewana Mujh Sa Nahin). I really liked this pairing as good as (if not better than) Aamir and Juhi, which is saying a lot. Dil was significant to their careers as well. Madhuri earned her first Filmfare Best Actress award for her performance (as noted above), and Aamir his first big hit after Qayaamat Se Qayaamat Tak.