Dienstag, 4. September 2007

Haseena Maan Jaayegi (1999) - Review in English

About the story: Millionaire Seth Amirchand (Kader Khan) is sick and tired of his two useless sons Sonu (Sanjay Dutt) and Monu (Govinda). He separates the conspired duo, forces Monu into an office job and sends Sonu to Goa to collect a debt. By mistake, Sonu comes ashore in the house of Gulzarilal Verma (Anupam Kher) and falls in love with Verma’s daughter Pooja (Pooja Batra). As he doesn’t consider it a very good idea to call his father to Goa for finalizing the marriage, he asks Monu for help. Monu immediately goes to Goa and, disguised as an old man, presents himself as Sonu’s uncle to push ahead Sonu’s and Pooja’s engagement. But now Monu faces two problems. For one thing, he recognizes in Pooja’s younger sister Ritu (Karisma Kapoor) the girl he long ago lost his heart out to, and to win her over he henceforth has to live a double life. For another thing, Gulzarilal’s sister Santo (Aruna Irani) falls in love with Sonu’s "uncle", and Gulzarilal is decided that first his sister has to get a husband before he gives his daughters permission to marry...

One of the most significant hallmarks of Sanjay as a film actor is his unpredictability. Though his name today is linked first of all with gangster roles, Sanjay from the very beginning of his career never permitted anyone to put him into a drawer. Just look at the seven films released in 1998 and 1999 and you’ll find roles as different as the blind and inwardly torn major in Dushman, the merciless action revenger in Daag, the murderer turning pacifist due to his love in Kartoos, the likeable jungle adventurer in Safari, the multi-faceted don in Vaastav, the small-time crook with heart in Khoobsurat and the lovable good-for-nothing in Haseena Maan Jaayegi. Sanjay’s versatility is his trade mark, not only in terms of his role repertory: He acts, dances – and since 1999 he even sings. The song "Sharmana Chod Daal" in Haseena Maan Jaayegi, for which Sanju together with Govinda went to a recording studio, was one of his first employments as a playback singer; meanwhile he has reached abilities as a singer which earn him offers even outside of his own film soundtracks.

In terms of histrionics, however, Haseena Maan Jaayegi was no challenge for Sanjay. His most difficult task, besides the comedy timing with Govinda which was perfect (after all, it was not the first film they did together), was to make the audience believe that it is possible to fall in love at first sight with a boring puppet like Pooja Batra. Apart from this, probably no other girl in a Hindi film has ever fallen in love more abruptly than this Pooja: Just now she is mad at Sanju, and then she goes to him and kisses him lovingly? Sorry, but I don’t buy this. And that’s not the only weakness of the script which here and there kills the joy the film otherwise anyway offers. For example, it’s okay that the mature aunt falls in love with the alleged uncle, but letting that advance to the point that Santo’s and "uncle’s" engagement is celebrated with pomp and circumstance just to get the uncle "killed" afterwards, leaving Santo heart-broken and crying at the photo of her "dead fiancé" – that’s not funny anymore but rather a cruel play with others’ feelings I cannot laugh about.

Fortunately such bad points are limited, so all in all, this film is no wrong choice when you want to get just a bit of lowbrow entertainment. After all, Govinda is really delightsome in his uncle disguise and with Karisma Kapoor had the more talented partner than his film brother's Pooja. Even the other cast members are in high spirits: Kader Khan is the likeable father who doesn’t let his sons get away with everything but cannot either be really angry with them, inspite of all the mischief they do even with him; Anupam Kher fully turns up the heat (I just would like to know why all his actions had to be attended by crow screeching); Paresh Rawal is Gulzarilal’s loyal and over-alert servant, while Satish Kaushik as Amirchand’s servant is a poor wretch who suffers one setback after the other; and the most sympathy bonus points go to Aruna Irani as aunt in love (accompanied by sounds from Dil To Pagal Hai) who, as I said, is given a raw deal and nevertheless puts up a brave front in the end. Haseena Maan Jaayegi is no masterpiece but it was a full success at the Indian box-office.

Produced by Smita Thackeray; Directed by David Dhawan
151 Min.; DVD: Eros, English Subtitles (not for the songs)
© Diwali

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