And I thought we lived in liberal times, where people are career-minded and straightforward.
I discovered otherwise today. Dil Hai Tumhaara seems to suffer from regressive thinking. Director Kundan Shah [this is the same man who directed the black satire Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro], covers love triangles, quadrangles and extols sacrifice in love.
Worse, halfway through the film, Shah forgets his story.
It starts off with a mother-stepdaughter conflict. Rekha cannot come to terms that her husband had a mistress and a daughter through her. Circumstances force Rekha to shoulder the responsibility of bringing up the daughter (Preity Zinta). Her own daughter (Mahima Chaudhry) takes to her stepsister immediately. Meanwhile, Rekha just gives her stepdaughter the cold shoulder.
That fact established, Shah plunges into the romantic angle. Shalu (Preity) and Dev (Arjun Rampal) are in love with each other. Trouble is, Nimmi (Mahima) loves him, too. More, Sameer (Jimmy Shergill) loves Shalu.
While you are still unravelling that one, Shah introduces the villains hatching some complex schemes. Mittal (Govind Namdeo) wants to become the mayor of Palanpur, Himachal Pradesh (where the story is based). The only way he can become one is to overthrow the current mayor Rekha.
With so many sub-events to tackle, no wonder Shah loses his grip and ends the film in a hurry. That is offered thus: a woman who sees her husband's betrayal every time she sees her stepchild, has an abrupt change of heart after 22 years. No valid reason given for that change of heart. A teary speech is all it takes.
All the characters, except Preity, who enjoys an author-backed role, are half-baked. Rekha, as the mayor, is never shown at work. The entire film sees her tackling only one problem --- the price of apples! Also, her house in the small town of Palanpur appears to be a mansion that has a transparent floor with water flowing underneath!
Like her last film, Raj Kumar Santoshi's Lajja, Rekha's performance is top class. For the first time, she appears as a screen mother to two contemporary actresses. She looks gorgeous in the beginning of the film as a young mother. Later, she takes up the mature role of an elderly woman with dignity.
Preity is superb. Her last film with Kundan Shah, Kya Kehna!, won many accolades for her performance. Her spontaneous smile lights up the screen. As the neglected child, Preity does not spend her time crying and wallowing. Due credit for this should go to Shah. Preity is presented as the bubbly, vivacious girl, with a sensitive heart.
Though you wonder: given how close she is to her sister, why does she not breathe a word to her about her love life?
Mahima looks great and dances well, and does justice to her role as the prim and proper girl who loves her younger sister to death. Here, Shah ought to have concentrated on her a little more and given depth to her role.
Arjun Rampal catwalks into the role with his easy smile and not-so-natural acting. Thankfully, he has no emotional scenes to tackle. His character raises a lot of questions. One: why does he allow himself to be pushed into marrying Mahima without a whimper?
Jimmy Shergill as Preity's childhood friend has scant screen time. His skill as a ventriloquist is questionable. His puppet seems to have a life of its own, even talking at the same time as Jimmy. Once, the puppet is shown sitting away from Jimmy, and manages to talk and move its hands.
Shah doesn't seem to have paid attention to detail. While he establishes that Arjun comes to Palanpur from Delhi (at least six hours by car), there is a scene shown when Arjun gets some pastries smeared over his tie and shirt and wants to go home to change. He is shown changing his shirt at his Delhi home! A bit absurd?
At one time Preity is afraid to go to Delhi alone from Palanpur and drags Arjun along. The second time, she simply runs out at night alone. Shah simply seems to have forgotten that Arjun's house is in Delhi, not Palanpur.
Preity and Arjun's office in small town Palanpur is shown as a modern designer office. Strange for an office that is incurring heavy losses and is on the verge of closing down.
Watch Dil Hai Tumhaara if you happen to be a Preity fan. And if you want to be treated to the rare opportunity to watch Bollywood diva Rekha.