The stage was set for fireworks this Diwali season. This years two much-awaited Diwali releases, Aditya Chopras Mohabbatein and Vidhu Vinod Chopras Mission Kashmir, have both generated massive amounts of hype in the previous months. The day of judgement is finally here, and, whatever the fate of Mission Kashmir, Mohobbatein is a winner. This musical love epic is Aditya Chopras second venture after the box office smash Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Most were wondering whether Aditya Chopra just got lucky the first time, but Mohobbatein proves that, after two excellent films, he is here to stay. Mohobbatein is a film that the Chopra family should be proud of, one that will definitely set the box office on fire.
The film chronicles the battle between love and hate, and stars Amitabh Bachchan as Narayan Shankar the headmaster of a prestigious university, a stern, somber, and bitter old man who believes in tradition, discipline, and responsibility, not love. Fun and games are frowned upon among the cold walls of the university. Only hard work and excellence is encouraged. Shah Rukh Khan is Raj Aryan, a music teacher, and a respected and loved member of the faculty. These two characters come into direct conflict when three boys, Vicky, Sameer, and Karan (Uday Chopra, Jugal Hansraj, and Jimmy Shergill) fall in love with Ishika, Sanjana, and Kiran (Shamita Shetty, Kim Sharma, and Preeti Jhangiani, respectively), much to the dismay of Shankar, who strongly disapproves. Into the mix comes Raj Aryan, who encourages the young lovers, teaching them how to woo their ladies. The plot thickens when we learn that Raj was previously Shankars student, whose college career came to an abrupt end after his alliance with Shankars daughter Megha (Aishwarya Rai), causing bitter strife and anger. Now he has returned to teach the three young men and the miserly principal the meaning and power of love.
Amitabh Bachchan is the star of the film, and delivers a performance that should win him accolades across the board. Bachchans towering screen presence erupts on screen. His dialogue delivery is excellent, his body language convincing, Bachchan is made for the rigid character he portrays. He makes the character come alive.
Shah Rukh Khan is, well, Shah Rukh Khan. His character is similar to those in films like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai, and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Khan performs very well, and manages to hold his own against the likes of Amitabh Bachchan. The scenes capturing the conflict between the two actors, especially the climax, are brilliant. The two stars share a good chemistry on screen. After sharing the screen with Shah Rukh Khan in JOSH, Aishwarya Rai supports well in a role that is pivotal to the script, but doesnt amount to much in the film. She looks stunning, however, and her pairing with Shah Rukh Khan is quite fresh. Much of her on-screen time is limited to looking stunningly beautiful, which she manages to do quite well. As for the newcomers, the two with the most promise are Uday Chopra and Shamita Shetty. Both newcomers perform adequately (for newcomers) and share a good on-screen rapport.
Uday Chopra is tall and muscular, but thats about all looks wise. He seems confident, and, with more training, could improve. Shamita Shetty reminds me of sister Shilpa in BAAZIGAR. Both look similar, though Shilpa is definitely better looking (case in point Tarkieb, Jung, and Dhadkan). Jimmy Shergill does a good job as well, and, after a disastrous JAHAN TUM LE CHALO (with Nirmal Pandey and Sonali Kulkarni), this relaunch pad should do his career a whole lot of good. Jugal Hansraj doesnt impress much; but then again, he didnt really impress me in PAPA KEHTE HAIN and GUDGUDEE. Kim Sharma and Preethi Jhangiani dont really seem as if they could star in a solo heroine project. They both look nice, but dont have the skills or enough material to make an impression.
In this day and age, a film has to look fresh and beautiful, and Mohobbatein is no exception. Technically, the film is well done. The locales are gorgeous, the backdrop, unique, the sets, hip. The film is shot very intelligently. The editing is crisp, though could have been improved upon, as the story drags in bits. Jatin-Lalits music, especially Humko Humi Se Churalo, is nice, though strongly inspired by Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The script, while sounding bland on paper, is handled very imaginatively, courtesy of Aditya Chopra. The dialogues are excellent.
Aditya Chopra has handled the film very well. His direction is skillful, which is quite evident in the scenes between Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. The film moves at a nice pace, not too fast, not too slow. For some, the film will seem like an eternity. For this viewer, the length was perfect. Chopra intelligently introduces a love story and follows it through until the end. Every scene is planned out and executed well.
Mohobbatein has achieved a very rare feat. The film made me care for the characters, something that has not happened since Pooja Bhatts brilliant performance in Zakhm or Kajols heartwarming performance in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. In KKHH, Kajols Anjali is a very well written character, one that made me want to watch the whole movie, just for her. Mohobbateins lead characters are very well etched and seem real, which is different from most films, whose characters are one-dimensional cardboard cutouts.
In conclusion, Mohobbatein is a feel-good film that takes feeling good to new heights. The film is not perfect, but is very well done. Hats off to Aditya Chopra for Mohobbatein. Lets hope for more successes in the future. Mohobbatein is a film that the Chopra Family should be proud of. A nice Diwali gift from Yashraj Films.