Thursday, December 14, 2006

What Baabul? Call me Buddy

I can't believe this movie wasn't titled 'Buddy' - that's how father-and-son Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan keep referring to each other throughout this predictable film with a widow-remarriage theme. Ravi Chopra suffers from a Baghban hangover and tries to replicate its success here. And fails.

The first half is the syrupy-sweet half of a Karan Johar flick - with its loving family and designer parties and you keep wondering why you weren't born into a family like that.

America-returned Salman (he returns after 7 years, a possible take on the saat janam ka saath theme) woos golf-enthusiast Rani. A few cups of tea and golf lessons later, the couple receive the blessings of Bachchan and Hema Malini and settle down to a lifetime of family life.

Almost.

Salman gets run down by a car while coming back to his young son's birthday party (apparently he was never taught in school to look left-right-left while crossing roads).

Enter Rani weeping. She's been doing that for ages now (Black, KANK) and we're tired of those tears streaming down her eyes. The widowed daughter-in-law bothers Big B and he strives for ways to make the roses in her garden bloom again. He turns to John Abraham, Rani's childhood friend who still cherishes a secret love for her.

From then on, the film trudges on towards its destined end. Throw in a few villains (Read extended family of tauji Om Puri, Aman Varma and Parmeet Sethi) to preach about how bringing widows to a wedding and getting them married brings bad luck. Sarika frowns and weeps in her guest appearance as Bachchan's long-widowed sis-in-law. She's not alone - Hema weeps, Rani weeps, John weeps, Big B weeps and in the end even Om Puri (when he suddenly decides he has sinned by berating widows) can't help shedding a few tears.

On second thoughts, this film is still worth a watch despite its storyline. Music by Aadesh Shrivastav is surprisingly of the non-grating variety. Big B turns playback singer with his sterling rendition of Kehta hai Baabul. Salman is his usual effervescent self, Hema Malini is as regal as ever, even John impresses in downcast-lover mode.

On the flipside, we have some shoddy costume designing. Rani looks like a parrot in some scenes while the very sight of John in white trousers and white shoes would send shivers down Jeetendra's spine. Thank God Ravi Chopra is now directing a comedy - I am just about sick of didactic movies trying to change society.

As for audience reactions, the usual suspects - middle-aged aunties - waxed eloquent about the movie while a couple of youngsters left midway. Take your pick.

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