Directed by: Rakesh Roshan || Produced by: Rakesh Roshan
Screenplay by: Ravi Kapoor, Honey Irani || Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Ameesha Patel, Dalip Tahil, Anupam Kher, Abhishek Sharma, Mohnish Behl
Music by: Rajesh Roshan || Cinematography: Kabir Lal || Editing by: Sanjay Verma || Country: India || Language: Hindi
Running Time: 178 minutes
One of the classic Bollywood romances of the 2000’s and the film that launched Hrithik Roshan’s career, Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (KNPH) breaks little, if any, ground as far as dramatic screenwriting is concerned, but manages to scrape enough entertainment out of the barrels of overused romantic cliches to make its story worth watching. Director Rakesh Roshan and composer Rajesh Roshan, father and uncle of Hrithik, respectively, meld a formulaic love-story with a hybridized action-thriller subplot and Millennial MTV music numbers to create a movie capable of supporting Hrithik’s muscled manliness and, to a lesser extent, female lead Ameesha Patel’s curvy, vuloptuous bod. Much the opposite of an older Hindi film like Guide (1965), KNPH skimps on thematic substance in favor of vibrant colors, gorgeous ocean beach vistas, good-looking bodies, and stylish dance moves.
KNPH was Hrithik Roshan’s breakout film, and it’s easy to see why. The film is light, enjoyable popcorn entertainment featuring pretty visuals, a pop soundtrack, and charismatic lead performances. Roshan does an admirable job in a double role as Patel’s dual love interests. Although he essentially plays the same character twice, Roshan commands the camera with a likable persona and a character who’s written at least halfway intelligently. As a romantic lead, he’s got both the good looks and more importantly the charisma to make us root for him in his relationship with Patel. The man also briefly gets to act as an action-star once the criminal subplot of the film is revealed.
Speaking of that subplot, this is one of the few times I wished Hindi filmmakers had emphasized their film’s action and crime drama elements more than they did. Unlike a movie such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ, 1995), where the narrative is predominantly a romance with a sudden, jarring sequence of violence inserted in the final five minutes, KNPH is more an equal balance of romance and violence. About two thirds of the story concerns Roshan and Patel’s relationship, and the remaining third act mixes a crime subplot that allows Roshan’s double-role to play out. Given the already substantial amount of screen-time devoted to the action elements of the film, the filmmmakers should’ve gone the whole nine yards and made this a balanced action-romance hybrid. KNPH almost feels like two movies in one, with most of the first act featuring only the love story, and then the crime drama coming into play bit by bit in the second. Although KNPH doesn’t suffer as much from tonal clashing as DDLJ, the contrasts between the innocent love story and action are somewhat odd. Rakesh Roshan should’ve either made this an action film with a love-story undercurrent (rather than the other way around), or he should’ve spaced out the action elements throughout the story to better pace the overall narrative.
As for the cast beyond Hrithik, they’re not much to shout about. Patel gives it her best, but her character isn’t terribly interesting and her performances feels restricted in hindsight given how you don’t even hear her real voice (her voice was dubbed for the film). Anupam Kher does an alright job as Patel’s father and as part of the criminal conspiracy group, but the actor’s inherent likability as a father-figure doesn’t mesh well as a bad guy. Everyone else is more or less the same — just OK, nothing too extraordinary or cringe-worthy.
The musical elements of the movie fare a bit better than the film’s performances. Rajesh Roshan’s soundtrack fits the hip, youthful spirit of the characters and compliments some funk-tastic MTV-inspired dance numbers. Also, the lush colors of the location-shooting and costume-design add to the music’s entertainment value even if they don’t add much to the actual story.
KNPH is altogether similar to other megahit Bollywood romances like DDLJ and Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994), both stylistically and given its unwarranted pop culture status. The film doesn’t wow as much as it should despite Hrithik Roshan’s committed performance and director Rakesh Roshan’s sense of style, but with that said, there’s not much to complain about either. The movie is rarely dumb or tedious. It just doesn’t push the boundaries of it’s melded genres or go beyond its stylish technical elements. All in all, the movie’s worth seeing if only to appreciate Hrithik’s atmospheric rise afterward.
SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATION: Hrithik Roshan’s commanding presence is the main reason to see this movie, hands down. He’s a likable romantic interest and a competent action hero… I just wish they’d pushed the action element more. Director Rakesh Roshan makes his film pretty to look at and combines the romantic and action genres without producing a total disaster of a movie. If that latter part isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is.
— However… the rest of the cast’s performances are so-so. The movie’s tonal shifts between its action and romantic elements remain somewhat jarring. Nothing about the story is particularly fascinating.
? Anybody else find it a bit creepy when Ameesha was sobbing and screaming at Roshan to kill the bad guys over and over again?