2 stars. Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (I'm Crazy About Prem). Directed by Sooraj R. Barjatya. With Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan.
The Barjatya's of Rajshri Productions, the producers of this film, have an impeccable track record in Bollywood with many hit films under their belt. Therefore this film has been eagerly awaited, especially since its director Sooraj R. Barjatya's last 3 films have been gigantic hits.
While Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (I'm Crazy About Prem) may be perfect school holiday entertainment provididing hours of pleasure for many starstruck teenagers and possibly a few parents too, those expecting something along the lines of Barjatya's previous successes will be sorely disappointed. The film stars current heartthrobs Hrithik Roshan (Prem), Abhishek Bachchan(Prem) and the sexy Kareena Kapoor (Sanjana). However, despite their prescence and the pedigree of the director, the film misses its mark.
The story revolves around a case of mistaken identities. You would have noticed that both male characters are named Prem and therein lies the drama. Sanjana is the darling daughter of Satya Prakash (Pankaj Kapoor) and Susheela (Himani Shivpuri). Her mother is obsessed with finding a perfect (read rich) husband for her daughter. Into their lives comes Prem a friend of their other daughter. A mega rich businessman who arrrives in their small town on business, he is initially snubbed by Sanjana as she doesn't believe in arranged marriages. However, it's not long before everyone is totally impressed with him and our heroine is smitten as well. But the course of true love never runs smoothly as another Prem arrives on the scene.
Barjatya's film has his unmistakable stamp all over it, crowded home décor, oodles of mush and saccharine sweet characters. What is missing is the warmth and emotion that was the hallmark of his previous films. In an attempt to make his film more appealing to a generation hooked onto designer wear, MTV and everything hip, he has sacrificed the typical old fashioned values that have been the mainstay of Bollywood films over the years. Now there is nothing wrong with reflecting the cultures of today, but Barjatya merely uses it as gimmicks in the film and it ends up being completely over the top.
Roshan and Kapoor give the weakest performances of their short careers. There is nothing believeable about their characterisation. Roshan in particular is completely over the top and irritating. Bachchan on the other hand, in what amounts to little more than a guest role, offers a restrained and confident performance.
Music has always been a highlight of a Rajshri production and on this score the film fails to deliver as well. Composer Anu Malik doesn't offer any sparks in his songs and has even resorted to copying the music of The Mask Of Zorro as his theme music.
Despite being set in a small town in India, the director has shot the film extensively in New Zealand and Mauritius. While the photography, by veteran cinematographer Rajan Kinagi, is exquisite, it is quite obvious that this is not India.
One can always depend on Bollywood´s high-profile releases for melodrama as banal and predictable as it is pedestrian. It seems that Indian audiences can´t get enough of the grandiose musicals based on tried and true romantic storylines, and Hindi film producers are not keen on innovation when there is money to be made. Keeping this in mind, Barjatya's film delivers on all of its makers´ promises. The film has a grand look and no expense seems to have been spared on the production. It will please fans of Bollywood´s feature length soap opera genre to no end, but for moviegoers looking for quality cinema, there is nothing worthwhile in this picture.

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    Mehboob Bawa is an actor, producer, writer, voice artiste and Bollywood specialist. He covers the Bollywood scene for The Cape Times, the morning daily newspaper in Cape Town, South Africa.


    July 2011