Planet Bollywood
Humko Deewana Kar Gaye
Producer: Raj Kanwar, Gulshan Kumar, Bhushan Kumar, and Kishan Kumar
Director: Raj Kanwar
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Bipasha Basu, Vivek Shauq, Gurpreet Guggi, Manoj Joshi, Ranjeet, Puneet Issar, Anju Mahendru, Delnaz Paul, Helen and Bhagyashree
Music: Anu Malik and Himesh Reshammiya
Lyrics: Sameer
Genre: Romantic
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Approximate Running Time: 2 hrs 35 mins
Film Released on: 14 April 2006
Reviewed by: Lidia Ostepeev  - Rating: 5.5 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 412 viewers)
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Fans of the Bollywood romance genre often speak about guilty pleasures; by this they mean films that are cliché ridden and predictable but are enjoyable precisely because of their faults. They´re "cheesy", "bad" and "over-the-top" but aficionados still come out of the experience feeling exhilarated and entertained. Gulshan Kumar´s Humko Deewana Kar Gaye may well fit into this category. The clichés in it fall so thick and fast that it´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 don´t make for a totally satisfying viewing experience nor does playing a 2.5 hour game of "spot-the-cliché.” Eventually a glimmer of feeling needs to filter through so that the story begins to matter. Try as I might, I can´t subscribe to the "so-good-it´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 she´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 is…too many times. Then there´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 hero´s words of love. There´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.” 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 can´t always tell whether it´s happening because the scenarios are perceived to be genuinely funny or whether it´s motivated be the pervasive "so-good-it´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 life´s little coincidences. They have so much in common that it´s obvious that they are meant for each other. Both like eating French Vanilla at the Barrista restaurant in Mumbai´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 doesn´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 Aditya´s car racing passion. We tear from cliché to cliché at breakneck speed. When it slows down though, and the intimacy begins, not much happens from Jia´s perspective. Her painful disclosures are there post-intermission but really, it´s a long wait with little to fill the void except some fairly contrived conversations between the couple.

There were moments when the veneer of predictability fades away and some genuinely engaging material is evident. The first scene occurs in the plane when Aditya is discovered to be carrying a bag of cooked food sent by his grandmother to relatives in Canada. This is amusing because the situation is quite true to life and to have the discovery happen in front of his upwardly mobile, fashion conscious fiancée is great. Another enjoyable scene is when Aditya and Jia are watching a DVD of Shammi Kapoor in Junglee. This is a good because it´s done rather reverentially without forfeiting fun or entertainment value. One of the things I disliked about Neal n Nikkie was its tendency to send up the classics like Dilwale Dalhunia Le Jayenge and Silsila. The hapless pair seemed to be saying "We´re so cool let´s do a a parody of those old dudes". In Humko Deewana Kar Gaye there´s a sense that both Aditya and Jia love Shammi Kapoor and their popcorn spilling version of Ay, yay ya Suku Suku is crazy, natural and just plain nice.

There´s a strong car theme running through the narrative which left me cold but I´m sure the sight of Katrina Kaif lolling about on expensive car chassis would have been a wonderful thing for many male viewers. It´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 won´t satisfy those who crave excitement and speed in movies. The audience, which would have been turned on by the promise of “car culture”, 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. Aditya´s song of loss - Bhula Denge Tumko is an effective juxtaposition of lonely cityscapes with some surreal glimpses of Jia´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 doesn´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 Akshay´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 it’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.

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