27 January 2009 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: Bachna Ae Hasseno
Ranbir Kapoor in his debut leading man role as Ranbir in Saawariya, didn't have the luck to snag the lady of his dreams, maybe because he was kind of a cad too, where karma had a part to return and haunt him. In his second feature film here, his Raj Sharma is again a cad, and credits himself being a "lady killer", able to woo any woman when he turns on his charms. We journey with him as he learns the true meaning of romance and love, and the first half of the movie before the intermission, gives the audience three situations over the course of 11 years where he toys with the emotions of different girls, broadly the sweet, sexy and sassy type, until of course, Karma catches up with him again for that all important lesson.
Girl 1: Sweet. 1996. Switzerland. In what would seem like a Before Sunrise storyline, Raj meets Mahi (Minissha Lamba) on board a Euro-train, and engineers his way to be able to spend time alone with his mark, on the pretext of sending her to Zurich to reunite with her family for their trip back to India. This episode sets the stage for Raj as the manipulative casanova, while Mahi is a very girly girl who harbours dreams of that perfect man, the perfect romantic encounter, and that perfect romance coming out just like her favourite movie. Only to discover that her puppy love, with sweet nothings and dedicated poems, resulted to naught when Raj's game is exposed. Broken Heart 1.
Girl 2: Sexy. 2002. Mumbai. Raj seemed to have moved on to another target, though it may seem from the onset he's already been domesticated by Radhika (Bipasha Basu from Dhoom 2), a hot model and aspiring actress who's his neighbour and they're living in together. Raj would have thought that a woman like her, stereotyped of course, would be easy and loose, living the fast life, and wouldn't want to be tied down to marriage because it will hamper her career. So when an opportunity to work in Sydney comes knocking and presents itself as a perfect moment to ditch her, to his surprise Radhika contemplates marriage, which he tries wholeheartedly to avoid. She's willing to sacrifice her career for him, but suffers the unthinkable in being left at the altar. Broken Heart 2.
Girl 3: Sassy. 2007. Sydney. It's actually quite a no-brainer to cast Deepika Padukone here given that she too, like Ranbir Kapoor, had 1 feature film under her belt, and are relatively successful newcomers to the industry (her first effort was in Om Shanti Om, and more recently, Chandni Chowk to China). And (ok Gossipy news ahead) this film actually was the catalyst for their much touted romance (and you can see the dynamics at work with some of the behind the scenes and interviews included in the 2nd disc). Anyway her role here as Gayatri, a business school student who works her way through school as a supermarket check out girl and a taxi driver, impresses Raj a lot, enough to romance her in Venice, and give up his gallivanting ways. Only of course for him to have met his match, and got spurned on his marriage proposal. She's a modern girl wanting to live life on her own terms, so being someone else's wife has never featured in her plans. What goes around finally comes around. Broken Heart 3. Raj's.
While the first half of the movie before the intermission was pretty plain sailing romantic stuff, the second half proved to be more powerful, because the protagonist finally has his eyes opened by his new experience, and realized he's been quite a bastard. So off he goes to make amends with the girls whose hearts he had broken, and mind you, in both real and reel life, this is never easy. Especially when you have to go back and face the women who had one point in time truly love you, and your actions had single handedly destroyed their belief in romance, and change or scar them for life.
We get a lot more jet-setting as well, all worked into the plot, such as the visits to Amritsar, Capri and Rome, as we follow Raj on his mission impossible to seek redemption and forgiveness from a housewife with a protective husband, and another who's now a renowned model with success to her head. I had enjoyed this section more because trying his best to be honest now, Raj has to strip his ego and really crack his head to device his forgiveness plan. Also, we get to see the different demeanours that both Bipasha Basu and Minissha Lamba had to tackle given their characters' failed romance with Raj, which had changed them either for the better, or worse.
The songs here proved to be catchy and fitting to each of the sweet, sexy and sassy persona that the girls bring to the table, and the beautiful locales they were shot in again were draws. Other than the very first musical number Bachna Ae Haseeno which opens the film, you don't get to see everybody on the same scene together, as each storyline took place under mutually exclusive terms, in timeline as well as locations.
If there's something to take away from the film, then it's the lesson that Raj learns, with the past being over and there's no longer control over it, but we can rectify things for the future if we take action in the present. Call me a sentimental fool, but somehow this works on me.