4 February 2010 | Peter_Young
Travelling to a foreign country with Shahrukh and Mahima...
Whatever anyone may say about Subhash Ghai's 'Pardes', I personally found it very entertaining, engaging and charming. The film may be slightly stereotypical, it may be a bit incorrect, but should it really matter to me as long as I enjoy it? The portrayal of the US may have been flawed, but the film's issue was in my opinion dealt with convincingly. Besides that, the story was very lovely and the film was according to me believable and moving due to the performances, the music and the overall writing.
The film is about a young Indian girl named Ganga who lives in a rural village in India with her extended family. Her father's best friend, Kisohrilal, who's been living in the US for over 20 years, comes to visit them. Kishorilal is immediately charmed by Ganga and wants her to marry his young son Rajiv. Ganga's father agrees to the proposal and soon comes Arjun, Kishorilal's faithful nephew, who is also a good friend of Rajiv, to organise the engagement before Rajiv, who's never been to India, comes to see his bride. Arjun and Ganga befriend each other, but the real trouble starts when Ganga is taken to LA to live with Kishorilal's huge NRI family before marriage. The social, cultural and economical gaps rise, and Ganga finds herself lonely in a world which is very distinct from hers, where no one except for Arjun seems to understand her. There also starts the realisation that Ganga and Arjun are actually in love.
The film is according to me beautifully narrated and Subhash Ghai's direction is very good. Technically the film might have been better as the cinematography was not that good. I did not see 'Pardes' as a social film or anything of that sort, but more as a romantic drama, and in that genre it was very well-made. I don't think Ghai tried to show NRIs in a bad light, because such differences and difficulties are to be expected in any kind of transition from one country to another, particularly when moving from a conservative and traditionalistic society like that of India to a liberal country like USA. There were many great and touching moments in the film, my favourite being when Ganga talks to her father in India on the phone and feels very lonely and sad. The romance between Shahrukh Khan and Mahima was very well portrayed and the two had a wonderful chemistry.
While discussing Shahrukh Khan's best performances, many seem to overlook his work in 'Pardes', but this is according to me one of the finest performances of his career. As Arjun, he is kindhearted, and atypically subdued, sensitive and extremely vulnerable. Khan played his role with restraint, depth and sincerity rarely seen by actors of his bracket in those days. The film's brightest spot may be the gorgeous Mahima Chaudhary. She is not only one of the most beautiful actresses to have graced the Indian screen, she is also an extremely talented actress. Her smile lightens up the screen, and she is so compelling, moving and charming as the smart, sensible and no-nonsense Ganga that there seems to be nothing easier than to fall in love with her. This is a marvelous performance and easily one of the greatest debuts by an actress in Hindi cinema. Why she did not go on to reach any particular heights in her career is still mystifying. Another newcomer, Aproova Agnihotri, who plays Rajiv, fails to impress here and it was not a good idea to start a career playing an unsympathetic character. Amrish Puri is outstanding as Kishorilal, and the rest of the cast provide good support.
Nadeem-Shravan's soundtrack includes some very melodious tracks. I liked Kavita Krishnamurthy's rendition of "I Love My India". This film also marks the breakthrough of Sonu Nigam, who became a star with the song "Dil Deewana". A soulful, melancholic and very romantic song called "Zara Tasveer Se Tu (Meri Mehbooba)" was beautifully sung by Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu. To sum it up, 'Pardes' is a wonderful romantic drama and that is the reason it was appreciated upon release. I recommend 'Pardes', for its story, music and superb star cast, particularly Khan and Mahima.