Unforgettable Week: Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Added several updates to this post on the Taare Zameen Par DVD release. The Unforgettable Tour concert is tonight! Yay! I wonder if we'll have any songs from the film that is the subject of this post (and my favorite Aishwarya film). More tomorrow.

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!)


Anonymous said...

Nice summary. BTW, I love Vidya Balan but it is a known fact that she cannot dance and directors work around her two left feet with good camera work.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Anonymous: Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. Vidya Balan is known to struggle with Western dances, true.

I think she's one of the finest in Indian Classical dances, for which she has received formal training (I think even prior to her entry into Bollywood). Here's a sample of her work from Bhool Bhulaiyya (2007). For the record, I think Madhuri would do way better, but Vidya would be my pick from among the current actresses. Unless we all decide Gracy Singh deserves another chance (not that she needs to prove herself to anyone)!

Anonymous said...

This movie was surprisingly good to watch (not a fan of SLB's movies in general). Thought Aishwarya did an excellent job in the Nimbooda nimbooda number. It was a typical filmi dance so I dont think its fair to compare it with the other more classical performances you mention. This and Taal were two movies where Aishwarya's dancing skills really shone.

Have to admit that I liked the husband arc much better than the first half. I think this was the first time I liked Ajay Devgan. His character of a besotted husband who is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for his beloved wife was sooooooo romantic!

Seems like we both loved the movie but for entirely opposite reasons! :-D

Anonymous said...

Adab Nawab!
You know I LOVE this film! I think you did an excellent write up here. There's really so much to this film and for me it took a while to resonate. Here's a link to my post on it and I think my friend Brahmanadam's comment on the post is particularly insightful:


All the best!

I am vicariously living through you tonight since you're at The Unforgettable Tour as I write this. :)

Nice for you to stand up for Vidya, who indeed danced VERY well in Bhool Bhulaiyya.

Nicki said...

When I first saw HDDCS, I didn't like it. At that time, I was just so mad at the ending. I watched it again and learn to like the movie. The music was amazing, costumes were gorgeous, colors were beautiful, acting was wonderful. Some people criticize Sallu in the movie but I loved his character - silly, goofy, sweet, charming, all that.

Anonymous said...

Adab theBollywoodFan, Adab theBollywoodFan. Opps! In my initial comment on this post I didn't even see you'd included a link to my post on the movie. Thanks!

I also liked this part right before Tadap Tadap, where Aish tells her mom, “He has touched my soul. His eyes follow me everywhere. Don’t separate us! I won’t be able to live without him!” You’re very correct in stating that the tune, “served as a catalyst to the separation.” Indeed it did.

I posted a couple pictures from that scene here:

waiting for your review of The Unforgettable Tour,


theBollywoodFan said...

Thank you for your comments!

Bollyviewer: Glad you liked the film. I guess I should be more easy on Ash in Nimbooda. As you say, when viewed as a typical filmi song, it serves its purpose well. Reminds me of Tabu in Mujhe Rang De, in which Ajay Devgan was an onlooker as well. I just thought Nimbooda was so very good, it could have been a bit better with better dance, that's all.

Ajay Devgan is a very good actor, no doubt, and he played his role very well here. Salman and Ajay were both likeable, and that means they executed a good script well. And that we like it for different reasons speaks to its wide appeal!

Sita-ji: Thank *you* for sharing those memorable sequences! More on The Unforgettable Tour soon! Would you believe they had a few songs from this film, and this very scene right before 'Tadap Tadap' featured?!

Nicki: I'm with you on not liking the ending. To quote Elizabeth from my favorite film of all-time, "this is not fair". I hear a Captain Russell response echoing from far away..."so is life". :(

ajnabi said...

I'm among the few who like the ending to this movie! I'll go into it when I've seen Saawariya, which'll give me enough material for a whole week on SLB's stuff, but suffice it to say I didn't think Nandini and Sameer had a love that could've made it over the long haul.

Still, the music was the main point of your post and I agree with every positive thing you've said! As far as I'm concerned it's in the top three of my favorite BW soundtracks.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Ajnabi: Thank you for your comment. The music to this was fantastic, na?! It is a very complete soundtrack, and that the songs are still used everywhere is a testament to its long-term value.

I see your point about the Sameer-Nandini relationship, but it'd have been nice had Sameer been given a shot at proving himself. He wasn't ever given that, I thought.

It's weird, Salman played a similar role to Ajay Devgan's in some ways, in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai...

Hope you enjoy Saawariya. SLB's stuff is really quite good. Have you seen Khamoshi?

Bollyviewer: Forgot to note in my previous comment that I agree with you on Ash in Taal -- she was excellent!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I agree w/ Nicki here- when I saw it 1st, I was furious w/ the ending (more so because im a die hard Salman fan :D) No issues w/ Ajay- he was cool, but I guess I just couldnt understand the motivations establish for Nandini...

Visually, I ADORE the movie- and absolutely agree w/ u- aishwariya's intro scene is absolutely perfect!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Shweta: Exactly my thoughts on the motivations for Nandini. It keeps getting worse for Salman fans, hence my comment on not liking it much in the final quarter...

The movie is indeed a heck of a visual treat too. It's so trademark SLB.

Thanks for stopping by!

marina said...

Salman Khan has finally broken the Silence and spoken out for his fans regarding the truth about the media and recent controversies surrounding him.

Do check out his official blog duskadum.blogspot.com

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Marina: Thank you for stopping by. Yes, I have been following Salman Khan's blog for a bit now (wrote about it here).

I really like his analogies. They're from the classic tales that get passed down through generations...and he has a very valid viewpoint, one I subscribe to.

When you're that popular and liked, controversies will keep arising (whether justified or not). For example, while he clearly notes his notes are for some members of the media, there are segments of that same media spreading word that the words were for Shah Rukh. How unbelievably ridiculous and sad is that?! And funny...I thought the media was supposed to be able to read at least...they're so overrated ;)


Anonymous said...

can we have a translation albela sajan

Anonymous said...

Very nice detailed review. But I couldn't stop laughing when you mentioned Nimbooda could have been done by Vidya Balan.

a)Aishwarya is a versatile dancer, she can tackle anything, Western, Indian, Flamenco, Classical, Salsa, Rap,... you name it! Vidya is not known to be a good dancer at all. She struggled in Bhool Bhulaiya. Watch the Malayalam version of the film with Shobana dancing and you'll realize how bad Vidya was.

I don't think Nimbooda could have been done by anybody else, not even Madhuri - she is not as fluid in her movements, may be Ash's athletic body gives her that advantage.