Is it any coincidence that the first time each of the three major actresses performing in tonight's Los Angeles stop of The Unforgettable Tour -- Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai, and Preity Zinta -- won their first Filmfare Best Actress awards, they were paired opposite one of the three Khans -- Aamir, Salman, and Shah Rukh (respectively)? Your guess...
Every time I see Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) -- among my favorite love triangles -- I fall more in love with the first half, and more 'out of love' with final quarter. But let that not take anything away from this excellent film I revisited last night. Starring Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Ajay Devgan, Vikram Gokhale, and others, with music by Ismail Darbar, and directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Here are some highlights:
1. Mr. Bhansali's films have always promised visual spectacles that are seldom rivaled, let alone matched. And this film offered perfect examples for why, beginning with this very first frame:
That and a good sense of humor. Vinay Pathak (recent films include Bheja Fry, Aaja Nachle, Johnny Gaddar, Mithya) is a lot more well-known now than he was back then.
2. Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) was the daughter of a music instructor. Loved how she was introduced. Ms. Rai played the role quite effortlessly. Haven't seen her have this much fun on the sets in a long, long time.
3. Sameer (Salman Khan) was introduced next. If you have seen the film, you know who he spoke to.
4. Nandini was ordered to give up her bedroom to the 'guest' for a few months. She wasn't fond of it, at least to begin with, and made notes in her diary expressing her disappointment.
5. Their pehli mulaaqaat (first meeting) was fabulously done. It's one of the few instances when one wonders if the two were aware of the presence of the cameras and other people. Beautiful.
Sample it here:
(Aside: Everyone who's entered my room on weekdays has probably had similar sentiments. Reckon some have been kind to not make it as obvious!)
This was also where Sameer discovered her diary (see point 4 above).
6. This scene at the dining table was fantastic, because Sameer was challenged to prove that his vocal abilities were worthy of instructor Pandit Darbar (Vikram Gokhale).
Nandini's expression was priceless, but why was her mom wearing that evil grin?
And would Sameer live up to it?
7. Of course Sameer had substance. To top that, he sang from the heart, and Pundit Darbar had no issues taking him under his wing.
8. The song that followed is my favorite from the film. Albela Sajan showcased Sameer, Nandini, and Pandit Darbar's passion for music.
A splendid song choreographed in spectacular fashion.
Lesson learned: Courtships are often aided by winning over the elderly (and more knowledgeable, and often more accommodating) women of the family. Thanks for the reminder, Sameer! ;) Zohra Sehgal as Dadi was fantastic!
9. Slowly but surely, Nandini and Sameer fell in love.
(Although the translation of the song Aankhon ki gustaakhiyaan left some to be desired.)
Here's a scene that no one can own as well as Salman. No second thoughts.
10. Nimbooda was another very good song. Aishwarya looked good, but the choreography was obviously limited given her dancing skills are restrictive. This would have been so much better with Madhuri or Vidya Balan.
Still, not something that hurt the film, especially given that we were introduced to Vanraj (Ajay Devgan) in it.
11. If I were to pick one sequence as my favorite, this would be it. Salman and Aishwarya might have lost each other (for reasons only they know -- the media will keep spreading the rubbish they do, and the innumerable fools -- myself included, sometimes -- will believe them), but we the Bollywood fans lost some amazing sparks on screen after they broke up.
12. We'd heard this before. Oh well...(yawn)...
13. The Pandit learned of the Sameer-Nandini affair. The former was disowned by his mentor, and ordered to leave. He made an honest attempt to have his side of the story understood, but to no avail.
14. The song that served as a catalyst to the separation was amazing. Yes, Tadap Tadap was a sad song, but it remains beautiful and heart-wrenching, and its placement could not have been better.
15. So Sameer left...
...and Nandini was married to Vanraj...
...but thankfully that didn't mean we wouldn't be treated to more Sameer-Nandini songs. Chaand Chupa Baadal Mein won Udit Narayan a Filmfare that year, and rightfully so. It is also one of my favorite Songs with Chaand -- the Eternal Performer.
16. Nandini's mother, who had tried to help her cause with Sameer around, was disturbed with Nandini's continued fascination with him.
17. And when Vanraj discovered of Nandini's true love, he took her to Italy (actually, Budapest, but we have the intellectual capacity to overlook that (no pun intended, really)).
Aside: Who's the abusive partner now, Ash? ;)
18. This scene at a cafe followed a rather thought-provoking scene at a church. Sita-ji at the Bollywood Food Club wrote about it at this link. Sameer and Vanraj were friends!
Dholi Taaro Dhol Baaje followed with some fantastic choreography. If it's beginning to seem the entire soundtrack was fantastic, that is because it was. The songs complemented the film as well as any other, and the result was a true musical.
19. Before I play spoiler to those of you have not yet seen this, let me end with this frame, with Sameer and his mother (played by Helen). The remainder of the film provided the result, of course.
I could go on and on about how good this film was, but I must get going because The Unforgettable concert begins in less than four hours! Suffice it to say, then, that Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was (and is) one of Bollywood's finer products.
Each of the actors did well, but Salman and Aishwarya quite clearly stole the show. The plot, dialogue, performances, music, and breathtaking imagery that was trademark Sanjay Leela Bhansali, made it one of the most popular films of the decade. I didn't completely agree with the definition of love that the film seemed to justify at the end, but let that not take away from a brilliant film! Four stars and then some for a truly unforgettable romance.
If you have not seen this, you really must! If you have, any favorite scenes or songs you'd like to share?
Movie rating: 4/5 (Brilliant!)
My classification: PG (for plot, some dialogue)
Music rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent!)