Dharmesh Dharshan started off the year with Mela and kept the two guy-one girl theme for his latest venture, Dhadkan, picking up a more serious Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam storyline (note the real life-turn-reel life couples, Salman-Aishwarya vs. Akshay-Shilpa). The age-old story goes as such: poor guy and rich girl love each other, parents do not approve and marry her off to another, more suitable business deal I mean marriage match, poor guy turns himself around with newfound wealth and sets off to reclaim his now-married ladylove.
Dev (Sunil), the poor illegitimate son of Sharmila Tagore, and Anjali (Shilpa), the legit princess of rich parents, are the two lovebirds stuck in a bind. Humari beti jawan ho gayi, so the time comes to get her married off to someone who is up to her status. Dev isnīt so thrilled, so he asks her parents for her hand in marriage, and they scoff after the initial shock and disdain, and then go through the emotional guilt trip with Anjali, doing one excellent job at that. Hence, she agrees to marry rich, smooth, good-looking Ram (Akshay), though she gives him the cold shoulder as did Aishwarya in HDDCS, and Akshay remains the cool and collected, loving husband, as was Ajay, oblivious of her past with Dev. Soon enough, Anjali falls for Ram as well. Meanwhile, Dev loses it, and upon finding about Anjaliīs departure from Devīs life, his mother (Sharmila) dies. He is now alone, poor and angry, and somehow he manages to go from rags to riches and re-enters Anjaliīs life, determined to get her back no matter what it takes. Oh, yes, and Mahima plays Devīs friend, Sheetal, who is also in love with him but to no avail.
This movie could have either been dragged out as most movies fall victim to (e.g. Refugee), or keep it swift and moving right along, which this movie did. The story was handled decently well, the subject being a sensitive one at that. The moral messages as well as tradition and family were strong. The movie is intense and leaves little room for any light-hearted moments, which is both good for the movie though tough on the audience-- a breather is always good. The music by Nadeem-Shravan is also noteworthy, blending well into the movie. There are also points in the film that are left unexplained, as in how Dev went about acquiring his wealth.
As for performances, Shilpa Shetty was convincing and has improved her dialogue delivery, given the fact that she has had little more opportunity to act beyond item numbers and special appearances. Akshay Kumar is proving that he is more than just an action hero, with the recent hit, Hera Pheri, and now as a serious role of a husband. His low key role left an impact. In this film, just as in Gopi Kishen, Hu Tu Tu and Hera Pheri, Sunil Shetty took the cake with his intense portrayal of a poor, jilted yet determined lover (one role that differed Sunil from Salmanīs role in HDDCS). The emotional interaction between the three was carried well. Mahima had a very little role and sported her elegant Pardes look (the look that swept the country). Sushma Seth, as Akshay Kumarīs evil, high-society stepmother, carried her role well. The costumes were mellow and beautiful, and the cinematography was worth noting.
Overall, the movie was one that may be key to improving the sagging careers of Shilpa Shetty and Akshay Kumar, not to mention the additional publicity of their on and off real life affair. Though the audience may not be ready to accept these actors in such intense roles, the box office results will soon tell. The feedback from others was mixed, some really liked it, and others thought the movie was a bit sketchy. Either way, the movie is worth watching, and if you arenīt an avid fan of any of the three main leads, perhaps it isnīt worth the movie theater ticket.