Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam: An In-Depth Look Part I

This is an old post but I wanted to give you something today because Blogger ate my gossip post this morning. I'll post the second part tomorrow!

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is an epic film – a continent-spanning coming-of-age story set to a luscious soundtrack by Ismail Darbar.

(Aishwarya Rai looking surprisingly like Rekha with that over the shoulder
Exorcist pose!)

Aishwarya Rai is the heroine and focal point of the film, which is divided almost equally into two halves – the first in which she meets and becomes infatuated with Salman Khan and the second in which she is tangled up with Ajay Devgan.

I have too many screencaps for one post so I’m dividing this into two for your two day enjoyment! Today, I want to talk about the first half of the film.

Aishwarya Rai’s character Nandini acts as the Hero of the film – with the two men’s stories only important as they intersect with hers.

(Note: Aishwarya Rai is ridiculously beautiful!)

Nandini is the favored child of a famous classical singer Pandit Darbar (Vikram Gokhale) and has been raised free of care and responsibilities. She’s headstrong and childish – with all the negative and positive traits found in children. She’s quick to anger but she’s quick to forgive, as well. Her name – Nandini, signifies delight and pleasure.

Enter the equally childish Sameer (Salman Khan). Sameer is half-Indian and half-Italian and has written to Nandini’s father asking to come and study. Sameer’s father has died and he spends a lot of time alternately shaking his fist at the sky or thanking his father’s ghost for things.

Nandini has been forced to give up her room for Sameer and he enters as she is bitterly lighting the chandelier which will symbolize their relationship. This is one of the all-time classic scenes of Bollywood:

She ignores him.

The cold look…

Sameer just pushes through…

And now they’re hooked.

The camera rotates us behind this tapestry – notice how Salman’s head is framed.

And Nandini burns herself on the flame – dropping the lamp. Will she get burned by him later? Is she figuratively playing with fire?

He catches it.


Everything is set.

Like the two children they are mentally, Nandini and Sameer’s courtship is a long series of insults and jokes.

(And how much do I love Dadi-ji played by Zohra Segal! She lit up the screen in every scene she was in.)

(Just one of the many scenes that included Salman with no shirt – it was a running joke.)

(Salman channeling “Masakalli”)

And as for Sameer…

He’s got talent but is not serious about applying it. He spends more time hiding behind corners with Nandini than seriously working. And he shows a disrespect for elders that is blamed on his foreignness but I think it goes deeper than that.

When Sameer and Nandini have a tiff right before she goes on to perform at her cousin’s wedding, it all falls apart.

I’ll save the rest of the story for next time because Ajay enters into the picture.

Nandini has never known responsibility and Sameer has never had to take it for anything. They’re both children playing a game. In a lot of ways, Sameer reminded me of the characters Shashikala always played – the petulant vamp with a lust for life. They know Nandini’s father would never approve the match and yet continue their game. Sameer pushing her further and further into infatuation…

Of course, this isn’t the only pull of the first half of the film. Just as I felt that the Sameer-Nandini relationship was a commentary on teenaged romance, the pace of the film in this first half really reminded me of that other classic
Hum Aapke Hain …Kaun!. The lazy parade of kite-flying, games, songs, and comic relief from Vinay Pathak and the rest of the family. Contrasting the dalliance with this wholesome atmosphere really works to underscore how trivial it is and how it goes against the flow of the household.

Still, Salman and Aishwarya are a lot of fun to watch together. They both throw temper tantrums very well and laugh equally well. It’s too bad we’ll never see them in anything together ever again.


Archee ologist said...

I think Manmohini in this movie was the best introduction for a female character in recent times.

Yet it is remarkable in its simplicity. If you heard the music before you saw the actual video, you might think that you would see a gorgeous yashraj heoriene in a chiffon saree dancing in slow motion in a Swiss meadow. Instead you get a childish heroiene playing in the sand and being childish about it...
QUite the contrast with, say, Shridevi, when she does the Maneka dance in Chandni to similar music.

I think it may be the best female charachter introduction ever!

Bombay Talkies said...

This was the second or third Bollywood film I ever saw and I so desperately wanted to like it, because I'd love Aishwarya in Devdas. I just found it so disappointing. None of the music stood out to me, the story was...well, neverending is the word I think I'd use. It was my introduction to Salman as well and I've really disliked him ever since, even though I've since seen about 20 of his films.

I don't know...I know everyone says this is a classic but I couldn't reach the end of it fast enough.

Your screencaps though are gorgeous, so at least there's that. :)

WSW said...

Wow. Aishwarya really does look like Rekha in that first cap.

I loved the wild music and visuals that introduce her character. I was lukewarm about the actress until I saw her in this role.

Thanks to HAHK! and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, I'll always be a bit soft on Salman, but his childishness in this movie was as unbearable as hers was endearing. This was intentional, but I can't help but wish that his character had found some flicker of redemption as well. His friendly scenes with Ajay were a nice touch but not enough for me.

There's one quasi-scandalous scene that reminded me a bit of Atonement, but otherwise, Ajay definitely gets the more memorable interactions with Aishwarya.

Can we talk about the caricature drawing that Nandini gives Sameer, though? Is Salman totally bald in real life or what? (Sophisticated critical analysis here.)

Vishal Singh said...

I liked the way you analysed and shared your perspective on this movie...me and my friends had discussed about it too...was Nandini practical in choosing Vanraj or why did she choose Vanraj in the end...what would be her life with Sameer and if chose Vanraj what would her life be with him...will she forget Sameer...will Sameer forget her...if she chooses Sa meet would all three be friends...what would ne their equation...

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