Sooraj Barjatya’s “Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon” is one of the biggest releases this summer. One would hope for a quality film, given the dearth thereof in 2003, but the film fails to deliver. In fact, the film makes for one of the most uninspired, insipid pieces of work to be manufactured by Bollywood studios in quite some time.
The film follows the trials of a young woman, Sanjana (Kareena Kapoor), who lives a picture perfect life with her extended family, her pet dog, and a computerized parrot. Sanjana´s parents begin looking for a suitable husband for her. They find a man named Prem. Sanjana agrees to meet Prem (Hrithik Roshan), and a song and a dance later, falls deeply in love with him. But there´s trouble brewing. It turns out, there is another Prem (Abhishek Bachchan) in town. A love triangle forms, and Sanjana is forced to choose between the two Prem´s. But her choice can have dire repercussions; she has to choose between her love for Prem (Hrithik) and her family´s wishes for her.
The film’s cliché-ridden script may as well have come off of an assembly line, and Barjatya´s treatment is just as hackneyed. Like almost every other Hindi film in the genre, the first half is filled with pseudo-comedy sketches, college dance functions, songs in foreign locales, and overwhelmingly shallow situations that allegedly depict two people falling deeply in love. The second half is full of loud dramatic outbursts, confrontations, and silly baseless actions by self-sacrificial characters. And Barjatya´s trademark preaching of traditional Indian values is present throughout; so much so that, in parts, the film seems like propaganda paid for by the Indian government’s cultural preservation departments. Not an ounce of the tons of melodrama in the film is compelling; audiences have seen these same stock characters in these same synthetic situations in almost every other love triangle-drama film that is released in India.
Performances in the film lack the kind of flair that is needed to elevate a mundane movie such as this. Kareena Kapoor has played this exact role earlier in films like “Yaadein,” “Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai,” and “Khushi,” but still manages to turn in an unimpressive performance. Kareena comes off as very inexperienced, mouthing dialogs synthetically, and going over the top in emotional scenes far too often. There’s more to acting than making facial contortions and changing one’s pitch, but Kareena doesn’t seem to care for the art of performance anymore. The flair and elegance from “Refugee” and “Asoka” are just distant memories now. Hrithik Roshan has apparently attended the same school of acting as Kareena, as he matches the loudness and superficial quality of her performance nearly dialogue for dialogue, emotion for emotion. There is nothing at all new or exciting about his work here; he delivers the same stock expressions he’s been using since he debuted. This is Hrithik’s most unspectacular, boring performance. He clearly has a long way to go before he can call himself a dynamic performer.
The only stand out in the enterprise is Abhishek Bachchan. Three years ago when the three stars in this film debuted, Abhishek was written off while Kareena and Hrithik became the critics’ darlings. Abhishek, however, in an understated performance, completely upstages his contemporaries in this film. His quiet, introspective performance is the shortest, but most impacting turn in the movie. Pankaj Kapur as Kareena’s father is the only other performer in the film who does something with the scope he is given. The rest of the character artistes in the film are mostly regulars from the Barjatya camp, and they continually slow down the film with their slapstick histrionics.
Technically, the film is nothing special. Set design looks expensive, but artificial and clunky throughout. Cinematography is bland and uninteresting for the most part, and the foreign locales get more and more uninteresting with each passing film they are employed in. The music by Anu Malik is quite awful, but his tunes have been choreographed and shot well. Kareena and Hrithik are far better dancers than they are actors, and both of them look and dance well in the film.
One can always depend on Bollywood´s high-profile releases for melodrama as
banal and predictable as it is pedestrian. India´s viewing public just
can´t get enough grandiose musicals based on tried and true romantic
storylines, and Hindi film producers are not keen on innovation when there
is money to be made. Keeping this in mind, Sooraj
Barjatya´s "Main Prem Ki
Diwani Hoon" delivers on all of its makers´ promises. The film has a grand
look, and no expense seems to have been spared in filming songs and
weddings. The film is packed with some of the glossiest stars in Bollywood.
The film is loud, superficial, and over-the-top in dealing with stale and
tired subjects like love, family sentiment, and responsibility. It will
please fans of Bollywood´s feature length soap opera genre to no end, but
for moviegoers looking for quality cinema, there is close to nothing
worthwhile in this picture.