7 November 2009 | Peter_Young
The devoted son, the devious stepmother, and above all -- the smart wife named Madhuri!
Beta is extremely melodramatic and for the most part suffers from very poor writing. Like most of Indra Kumar's films, it has a fantastic story which is poorly executed on-screen. The very inept depiction does not withhold the film from being entertaining and watchable though, and that's mainly thanks to its interesting concept, superb soundtrack and brilliant star-cast. The film has three main characters: the son, his devious stepmother, and his wife who enters the picture like a saviour. Kapoor plays Raju, a devoted son to his wicked stepmother who would kill and give his life for her if she asked. Since she entered the house as his father's second wife, she has used the boy who had carved for a mother and deviously left him illiterate. In addition to that, she quietly made her husband's life miserable by making the entire world think he is mentally imbalanced and imprisoning him - all for money. But soon Raju marries Saraswati, a young and smart woman who, unlike her loyal and innocent husband, shortly discovers her mother-in-law's true character and swears to destroy her plans.
The film's story is, as said, fantastic. But the film itself suffers from a poor script and some amazingly annoying attempts at comedy. Having said that, it is filled with many great moments and scenes of romance and drama, it has some very worthy dialogues, the development of story is effective, and the songs are very melodious and pleasant. That's what keeps the film generally engaging and entertaining, but if there is one aspect that particularly manages to keep it intact, it must be the acting. Anil Kapoor, playing the title character, does get a bit let down by the very immature character he is given. But while his character's overly loving and often childish attitude does get irritating at times, his sincerity is much more powerful and is strong enough to make this performance memorable. Aruna Irani is simply outstanding as the vicious Laxmi and is thoroughly convincing. However, Beta is clearly Madhuri Dixit's film. She is mind-blowing as Saraswati. She always could rise above a poor script, and here she gets to play a courageous and sensible woman who is unafraid to fight everyone for justice, and she does just that. Her expressive eyes, forceful line delivery, smart attitude, decisiveness, hot dance numbers and overall persona -- are all spot on and contribute to making this performance unforgettable.
All-in-all, Beta is not a film for everyone, but I think as a mainstream Hindi entertainment, it is brilliant. Some may find it overblown, but I still think it is one of Indra Kumar's better works (along with Mann, his best, and Dil). I found the film totally enjoyable and I liked the film's last scene, which was superb and quite satisfying. The film remains memorable for its music and for its actors, especially Madhuri, and it's easy to see why. This film could have easily been titled Bahu (daughter-in-love) after her character. Anyway, I recommend you to watch Beta. Remember not to expect that much, and you will be happy.