Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
Reviewed by Simon Booth
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Music: Ismail Darbar; Lyrics: Mehboob
Running Time: 3 hours 7 minutes
A young musician (Salman Khan) travels from
Italy to India to learn music from a master singer. He strikes a discord
with the musician's daughter (Aishwarya Rai) even before he arrives, which
is of course a natural precursor to falling in love. Unfortunately, the
ultra-conservative family do not take kindly to the young lovers relationship,
as they'd much rather their daughter married a nice lawyer like Ajay Devgan.
Star crossed lovers have been the meat and bones
of Bollywood for a good many years now, so the first half of HDDCS at least
plays out without many surprises. It's a fairly lightweight romance that
spends more time on songs and dances than dialogue. The dance routines
are beautifully choreographed, and the whole production looks luscious
and expensive with its grandiose sets and costumes. The romance itself
is only mildly engaging, as both characters tend to act like brats most
of the time, and it's hard to really feel any enthusiasm for their cause.
Unsurprisingly, the intermission marks the
turn-around point, where the situation gets more complicated and the fluffy
romance has to make way for melodrama and contemplation of more serious
issues. This does make the second half more interesting than the first.
HDDCS looks gorgeous. Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali
would go on to make DEVDAS more recently, famed for being the most expensive
Hindi production ever, and almost gratuitous in the opulence of the art
design. HDDCS is a little less extravagant, but still full of images of
luxury and privilege. The desert mansion in which most of the film takes
place is stunning, and the cinematography makes good use of it. Aishwarya
Rai is dressed and made up quite beautifully, though she would probably
look stunning under any circumstances. She is also a great dancer, and
gets plenty of chance to show it in the film. Salman Khan is okay as the
passionate Sameer, but sometimes seems to rely on taking his shirt off
over acting well, and can be rather annoying at times. Ajay Devgan is superb,
though his role is smaller.
HDDCS is perhaps the most song-intensive Bollywood
film I've seen, with the first half especially being practically 50% songs.
The music by Ismail Darbar is pretty good, but he's certainly not A.R.
Rahman, and few of the songs are really catchy or memorable. I doubt I'll
buy the soundtrack for this one. The choreography is of course superb -
India is to dance as Hong Kong is (was) to action - unsurpassed.
Ultimately I was disappointed with HDDCS on two
fronts. First is that Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai's characters just aren't
likeable enough to really care about them in the first half of the movie.
Second and biggest is the conservatism running throughout the film. Although
I think it tries to present a balanced perspective, ultimately it seems
to promote very traditional and repressive values, and at times comes across
like a religious lesson. This doesn't make it bad for everybody, but it's
not something I like in a film. Thus, although I can appreciate the film's
aesthetics it did not work on an intellectual level for me.
Film Rating: 7/10
Note: As a point of interest, the actress who
plays Salman's mother is the legendary Helen in a rare film appearance
these days. Also, as most Bollywood fans who keep up with the gossip know,
this is the film in which Aishwarya and Salman met and their infamous love