/ produced by Aly & Bunty Morani / directed by Dharmesh
Dharshan / starring Aamir Khan & Karisma Kapoor / music
by Nadeem-Shravan / lyrics by Sameer
all starts going downhill when Aamir stops shaving. Thats
the rule to remember when watching Raja Hindustani,
the film that swept Indias Filmfare awards in 1996 with
Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress. Its not perfect,
especially as the second half caves toward a preposterous ending,
but until then its a pleasure to watch and hear.
Khan, a rather serious actor for Bollywood, might not put this
movie among his best. But Raja Hindustani is a great
introduction to the range of emotions he plays so well, from
dippy to downright cruel. Theres also a surprisingly good
performance from the actress who rubs many fans of BollyWHAT
the wrong way, Karisma Kapoor. Were not completely free
from the stricken-eyed scenes that mark her more recent roles,
but here she has a haughty/flirty presence that can be fun to
watch. In fact, this role as the Bombay rich girl who falls
for a rural taxi driver helped Kapoor break out of her slapstick
the awards, Raja Hindustani is still pure Bollywood
formula two lovers against a disapproving family. But
its good formula saved by good music and its two delightful
stars. And it has no love triangle, which is refreshing. The
movies challenge, though, is filling its final hour and
a half. The first half ends on an upbeat note that in most films
means its time to roll the credits. Maybe they should
have done so here.
plays a rich girl who decides to take a holiday in the rural
town where her parents fell in love. Once they arrive, she and
her two gender-confused assistants bump into the good-hearted
but short-tempered Raja Hindustani, the taxi driver played by
Khan. As Bollywood dictates, Raja immediately falls in love
with the Memsahib and spends his time mooning and fighting over
her. To his dismay, he also ends up fighting with Memsahib as
the movie light-foots its way around the topic of class differences.
The makers of the movie also pull punches by making both characters
a wee bit dim. Their blossoming love is sweet but shallow, based
on Memsahibs teasing and Rajas clumsy good intentions.
Rajas also a charming singer, however, and apparently
he can kiss.
that kiss. There are none of the usual feints and shadowplay
when it comes to getting it on here. The rain-soaked kiss between
Raja and Memsahib, gaspingly long by Bollywood terms, certainly
helped propel Raja Hindustani at the box office
and into history. (To those new to Indian movies, though, its
going to look like a whole lot of nothing. Or nibbling.)
rest of the plot is simple: Girls family disapproves.
Girls wicked stepmother schemes to break them up. Misunderstandings,
fighting, a big sloppy finish. Be prepared to suspend your disbelief
as the movie wears on, much as Raja suspends his shaving routine.
By the end, he looks and acts like a caveman, and its
hard to see why ... oh, never mind. See it for yourself.
Hindustani has a limited number of songs, but theyre
great stuff, especially when a heartbroken Raja expresses his
love at a gypsy-like gathering. And Johnny Lever, so irritating
in many movies as the comic relief, has a very funny appearance
as a Sikh, of all things. He also is given a love interest and
a bit of serious singing, which seems to be a rare chance for
him to be more than a doofus. Overall: If youre looking
for a nice, warm muffin of a movie, something that pleases without
giving you gas, you cant go wrong with this one.
reviewed by Kaya