18 April 2003 | dmul53
This movie has an intriguing story. Two foundling orphans are childhood friends: one turns his misfortune into an opportunity to help others, while the other is unable to rise above his sad beginning and turns to crime. Murli, the good orphan (Vivek Mushran) now runs an orphanage himself, while Ram Jaane (played by Shahrukh Khan, and so named because when he asks a priest what his name is, the priest replies "God knows!" "Ram Jaane!") works for an evil crime lord. Juhi Chawla is Bela, the sweet girl who is loved by both men, but who only has eyes for Murli.
Shahrukh Khan, the undisputed King of Bollywood, is an engaging, riveting, charismatic actor who is unfortunately prone to unprovoked fits of atrocious overracting. Ram Jaane is a case in point. Although he has moments of sheer brilliance in this film (his reading of his goodbye letter to Bella had me in tears) his consistent scenery chewing becomes a distraction in many scenes. Khan is entirely capable of delivering subtle, thoughtful performances, and it's hard to see why the director didn't reign him in a bit here. The character of Ram Jaane has so much potential; he is a tortured soul who longs for love and tries in his own twisted way to be loyal and virtuous, but simply lacks the moral equipment to make the right choices...if played with a bit less hamming this could have been a great film.
Vivek Mushran and Juhi Chawla handle their characters admirably, however, and there are a trio of nice songs: the title song Ram Jaane, another little ditty called Chori Chori that has Juhi and Shahrukh dancing in the fields of Ram Jaane's imagination, and a manic dance number called Pump up the Banghra that's loads of fun. This movie has its moments, but overall fails to live up to its potential.