Few comedies are widely regarded as being the best from a decade (hence among the best of all time) as Andaz Apna Apna (1994), which is a cult film if there ever were one belonging to the genre. Aptly named (the title means 'to each his own [mannerism]'), it aimed to entertain from the very first frame to the very last, and succeeded overwhelmingly in so doing. The Rajkumar Santoshi film starred Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon, Karisma Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Mehmood, Deven Verma, Viju Khote, Shahzad Khan, and others, had music by Tushar Bhatia, and lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri.
Two young men Amar (Aamir Khan) and Prem (Salman Khan) con their fathers (veterans Deven Verma and Jagdeep respectively) to finance trips to win over a wealthy businessman's daughter Raveena (Raveena Tandon), who visits India in search for an ideal match. Why India and Indians? Here's one answer:
Raveena is joined by her assistant Karishma (Karisma Kapoor). They embark on their quest, as do Amar and Prem, whose first meeting involves Prem's iconic Ooi Maa:
Aside: If you've ever wondered why my mentions of Juhi Chawla are almost always accompanied by Haaye Allah ('oh God', or a variant of the phrase). :o)
Amar and Prem exchanged pleasantries (or lack thereof) on the way to their destination (it's hard to beat these lines -- I like the second one, 'circus ka retired bandar', sorry Aamir!)...
...but eventually agreed to a peaceful but fair bout to win over Raveena. Things got complicated thanks to a fundamental lie, bodyguards, a stubborn father, a greedy villain, a twin, and a villain who believed he was part pirate and part superhero!
These elements meant that a high drama quotient complete with twists was inherent. Given that they were combined well, and that it was all very intentional, what followed was nothing short of fantastic, unadulterated, clean comedy. For fear of playing spoiler, here are just ten highlights to illustrate the tremendous scope of the screenplay. I don't think I could do anything to give much away, though -- the film must be experienced to be appreciated. None is kidding when suggesting that every scene is hilarious. Sample these:
1. A quasi-ode to friendship:
2. An encounter with the police:
3. A friendly fight with a reference to a popular ingredient of masala film...
...leading to reminders of episodes of the Ramayan TV series!
4. Amar and Prem the magistrates:
5. Vegetables as handkerchiefs. Honorable mention to Javed Khan (left), who played Ram Singh in Lagaan (2001).
6. A classic buildup to a song -- Ae Lo Ji Sanam (see it here) -- an excellent tune. Am I the only one who thinks the song has 1960s or 1970s written all over it?
7. A classic song in Dil Mera Dhak Dhak Dole (see it here), probably the closest Bollywood has come to an authentic pajama party number. Amar and Raveena were at their finest...
...Prem and Karishma were at it too...
...oh, and so were the bad guys!
8. Crime Master Gogo (Shakti Kapoor), who introduced himself as Mogambo's (Amrish Puri from Mr. India (1987)) nephew was the inexplicable highlight.
9. Paresh Rawal was brilliant in a double role, as Raveena's father and uncle. One a greedy villain, the other a strict administrator.
10. And finally, there was this. Man must not only win over woman, but must, of course, convince her parent(s) of his worth.
Aamir Khan and Salman Khan were perfectly cast, and in retrospect, it's difficult to imagine anyone else in their shoes. If you've ever liked any film with either, consider this mandatory viewing. They were supported extremely well by Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor. The rest of the supporting cast was excellent as well, and ensured that the overall product was nothing short of entertaining.
The film was packed with references to the film fraternity and contained noteworthy guest appearances (Haaye Allah!). There were umpteen references to elements from Indian pop culture, e.g. Crime Master Gogo's hilarious dialogue involving Mr. Bajaj, sung to the tune of a popular commercial for a motorcycle brand of the same name. Or Mr. Bajaj's punctuality related to a brand of timepieces. They were very effective when placed in context.
Having said that, this is also why I think the film doesn't translate very well across cultures. Aamir's Haaye Allah probably wouldn't be as funny if it didn't remind one of an aunt or neighbor who uses the term often, and Salman's Ooi Maa wouldn't be as funny if it didn't remind one of that annoying kid in the park. Subtitles (which were hardly spot on any way) can only capture so much. I don't think this means someone who does not speak Hindi or has never lived in India would not enjoy several portions. I'd just understand if they didn't find it as funny. If you've seen the film, I'd love to know what you think of this.
Andaz Apna Apna is a genuinely well-crafted comedy that hammered away at its mission. When a father yelled at his son, it was to make us laugh. When a villain aimed at a target, it was to make us laugh. When someone was kidnapped, it was to make us laugh. And these efforts resulted in a film that was by every definition a laugh riot, induced by all the silliness that accompanies a nonsensical comedy which is amazingly self-aware and free of tasteless humor.
It is the kind of film that works well in most settings, and has retained its appeal for 15 years now. The jokes get funnier with repeat viewings. Surprisingly, there is more to appreciate each time. Never mind the production values (especially the cinematography and sets, the wardrobe added to the funniness) took a backseat to the acting, dialogue, screenplay, and music. The script was not extraordinary, but the actors buying into it so convincingly was key to their performances, which made the film one for the ages. I highly recommend you see it. For all the nonsensical comedy it contains (which more often than not requires the taking off of thinking caps), it is delightfully intelligent!
Movie rating: 4.75/5 (Best in class!)
My classification: PG (for guns that often don't have bullets!)
Music rating: 3.75/5 (Very good, perfectly integrated)
If you've visited the Aamir and Salman blogs, you'll know this film truly brought the fan bases of the two together. We cannot get enough of it. That was then...
...and this is now (well, almost; see below):
There were rumors recently (big enough to be picked up by the British Broadcasting Company here) of there being a sequel to this starring the two. The actors have since denied this happening any time soon, but acknowledged at Salman's 10 Ka Dum that fans' continuous insistence might just pay dividends. Continuous it'll always be, gentlemen! If you haven't yet seen the game show episode featuring Aamir, here it is. They enter to a song from the film, their dialogue is from here too. Fun! None of Aamir, Salman, or Raveena have denied interest in a sequel, and all I've heard from Aamir is that it might take a year for Rajkumar Santoshi to even come up with a script for them to review.
Oh, and in case you feel I haven't discussed much of the brilliance of the stunning Raveena Tandon and fabulous Karisma Kapoor (it's all deliberate, you'll know why when you see the film), you are allowed to point fingers ;)
You can also play along with the cast in *your* andaz, and watch in amazement and amusement!
PS: Does anyone know when Salman was nicknamed 'Style bhai'? Was there any correlation with the title to this film?