Fans of the Bollywood romance genre often speak about guilty pleasures; by this they mean films that are clichĂ© ridden and predictable but are enjoyable precisely because of their faults. TheyÂ´re "cheesy", "bad" and "over-the-top" but aficionados still come out of the experience feeling exhilarated and entertained. Gulshan KumarÂ´s Humko Deewana Kar Gaye may well fit into this category. The clichĂ©s in it fall so thick and fast that itÂ´s quite possible to believe that the film is there to showcase a successful musical score and nothing more. Good songs (Anu Malik and Himesh Reshammiya) and some interesting picturizations donÂ´t make for a totally satisfying viewing experience nor does playing a 2.5 hour game of "spot-the-clichĂ©.â€ť Eventually a glimmer of feeling needs to filter through so that the story begins to matter. Try as I might, I canÂ´t subscribe to the "so-good-itÂ´s-bad" line of film appreciation.
How many times can two people bump into each other in a coincidental but strangely pre-destined way? How many times can their necklaces, chains and buttons significantly intertwine? How many times will the hero sense (as he counts to four) that his beloved will call him back even though sheÂ´s turned away from him? How many times will he stand with arms outstretched overlooking a valley or gorge at the beginning of a song? The answer to all the above isâ€¦too many times. Then thereÂ´s the charming device of a personal plea being televised above an entire football stadium so that thousands of spectators can be moved by our heroÂ´s words of love. ThereÂ´s the car conveniently breaking down so our lovers can spend the night together (albeit chastely). And to lighten the mood we have the tired gag of heterosexual guys being caught in "compromising" positions (in the style of Kal Ho Naa Ho) and a bit of "toilet humour.â€ť I know though that some people in the audience were laughing at the corny dialogues and really being entertained. Laughter is often a bit tricky to read because you canÂ´t always tell whether itÂ´s happening because the scenarios are perceived to be genuinely funny or whether itÂ´s motivated be the pervasive "so-good-itÂ´s-bad" line of thought.
Aditya (Akshay Kumar) and Jia (Katrina Kaif) are sweet, good-looking but rather dull people who are thrown together by lifeÂ´s little coincidences. They have so much in common that itÂ´s obvious that they are meant for each other. Both like eating French Vanilla at the Barrista restaurant in MumbaiÂ´s Marine Drive, both like sports cars, children and family traditions. But, as fate would have it, both are engaged to other people. For half the film we know little about Jia - she doesnÂ´t like shopping and feels a bit insecure about her upcoming marriage to business tycoon Karan Oberoi (Anil Kapoor). Inevitably Aditya woos her with his homespun philosophies and a few contrived deeds of daring.
Insufficient interest and tension make the first half of the film a plodding affair even though the songs are very enjoyable. Jia is very much a question mark but for a while we are dazzled by the energy of the opening; quick, colour-saturated, high-octane stuff - like AdityaÂ´s car racing passion. We tear from clichĂ© to clichĂ© at breakneck speed. When it slows down though, and the intimacy begins, not much happens from JiaÂ´s perspective. Her painful disclosures are there post-intermission but really, itÂ´s a long wait with little to fill the void except some fairly contrived conversations between the couple.
ThereÂ´s a strong car theme running through the narrative which left me cold but IÂ´m sure the sight of Katrina Kaif lolling about on expensive car chassis would have been a wonderful thing for many male viewers. ItÂ´s a male fantasy that many car advertisements exploit to the maximum with lucrative results. A sequence when the lovers bond during a cross country car rally however, is filmed unconvincingly; in an amateurish way and probably wonÂ´t satisfy those who crave excitement and speed in movies. The audience, which would have been turned on by the promise of â€ścar cultureâ€ť, may just as quickly be turned off at this point.
Three events stand out. Firstly, Fanaah - not because Katrina is reclining on a motorbike, but because the sequence contains some punchy choreography (Ganesh Acharya) in a grungy car demolition yard. AdityaÂ´s song of loss - Bhula Denge Tumko is an effective juxtaposition of lonely cityscapes with some surreal glimpses of JiaÂ´s likeness coming from unexpected quarters. The most engaging song however, and one which appropriately forms the climax of the film is - Mere Saath Chalte Chalte. Bipasha Basu heads a line of belly dancers that are amazingly uniform but really expressive with sensuality and attitude to burn. The same cannot be said of the unfortunate Caucasian dancers chosen to decorate For Your Eyes Only and Humko Deewana Kar Gaye. These women have technique but it doesnÂ´t translate into anything more than gymnastics. Splits, leg mounts, turns and back flips are not dancing if they are done mechanically.
Kartina Kaif has an appealing, natural presence that blends well with AkshayÂ´s reliable on screen assurance. However the movie rests very much on the merits of its soundtrack, which helps deliver a visually spectacular climax but itâ€™s a long haul till then with too little diversion. Humko Deewana Kar Gaye might be a bit like eating a very sweet box of chocolates in one sitting - a guilty pleasure for some, and nauseating for others.