Mohabbatein (Aditya Chopra, 2000)
What better film to start with than the one in which Shahrukh is pretty much the literal embodiment of love?
Mohabbatein (or “Love Stories”) is a glorious mish-mash of pretty much every over the top Bollywood cliché you can imagine – in its 3 hours it crams in forbidden love, untimely death, a ghost, not one but TWO excessively stern father figures, a song incongruously set in the Swiss Alps, generous helpings of inspiration from Hollywood; and a whole lot more. The key word is melodrama, and this is kind of a given when the basic plot can be boiled down to “Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan represent the two sides of a battle between FEAR and LOVE”.
Okay fine, you need more than that? Amitabh Bachchan plays Narayan Shankar, the headmaster of Gurukul College, a prestigious university somewhere in India. Shankar, an icy disciplinarian who dislikes change, governs the school chiefly by instilling fear into his pupils – if they break any of Shankar’s rules, not only will they be expelled from Gurukal, but they will not be admitted to any other university, such is Shankar’s influence. As such, students at Gurukal are expected to devote their lives to their studies and not get distracted by trivial things such as love. This is not such a good thing for three new students who arrive and promptly…fall in love with 3 local girls.
Enter Raj Aryan, the new music teacher at Gurukal, played by Shahrukh Khan. Pretty much the polar opposite of Shankar, Aryan encourages his students to follow their hearts and create their own love stories, shaking things up at Gurukal and severely pissing off Shankar in the process. But WHY? What motive does Aryan have for wanting love to triumph over fear? Hint: he’s got a pretty good reason to be pissed off with Shankar. The battle between Love and Fear (and for the future happiness of the three lovestruck Gurukul students) continues until the supremely awesome conclusion, in which Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan show why they are the kings of Bollywood. And if you don’t cry like a little girl, you have no heart.
HIGHLIGHTS and RANDOM OBSERVATIONS:
Amitabh Bachchan or “Big B”. The ‘B’ totally stands for “badass”.
Narayan Shankar is one cold, cold man.
Jugal Hansraj! Why hasn’t he been in more films?! (Aside from bit parts in a couple of films, he’s apparently moved into directing now). He’s adorable, and I fell in love with this movie at the moment when Sanjana asks him if he got everything on his shopping list, he looks at the photo of them together and replies “Yes”.
Uday Chopra is so much less annoying here than he will become in Dhoom and Dhoom 2. And how can you not have some measure of affection for a guy willing to be the Patrick Swayze “Now I’m gonna rip my shirt off and dance my HEART OUT” modern dance guy in the SUPER-AWESOME DANCE MONTAGE (sweet sweet Jugal gets to be all romantic and Paul Mercurio-esque in his bit and Jimmy Shergill, in his part, I swear to God, JUST STANDS THERE doing nothing).
Crazy eyes abound in this film (I couldn’t get a screenshot of how Aishwarya, far from my favourite actress, CROSSES HER EYES to indicate how upset she is and just comes off looking a bit retarded, or perhaps like she needs corrective lenses). But this guy INVENTED crazy eyes.
Is this the same outfit that SRK wears (as Om Kapoor) in one of the fake movies in Om Shanti Om at the Filmfare Awards? Regardless…I LOVE any movie when all of a sudden we’re in the Swiss Alps and the hero who has had his shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest for the majority of the film has suddenly got a skivvy on. Except if you watch his song closely you’ll see that one of the jerseys SRK wears is not, in fact, going to keep him very warm, as it is see-through and his nipples are quite visible. Oo-er.
Um, can anyone say “O Captain, my Captain”? Elements of Mohabbatein (a teacher shaking things up at a straightlaced school, for example) were clearly inspired by Dead Poet’s Society but this made me laugh out loud with the over the top cheese factor. Which isn’t to say I don’t love it, because my goodness, I do.
BEST SHAHRUKH MOMENT:
The dance he does with Miss Monica. Because I haven’t yet seen any old-school Bollywood, I didn’t know until after I watched the movie that Miss Monica was played by Helen – one of the big names from the golden years of the 60s/70s. But even without realizing who she was, this was one of my favourite parts of the movie. Just look how into the dance SRK is – like he’s absolutely thrilled to be dancing with her.