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"Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon"

AFTER ALL that hype and expectations out of someone like Sooraj Barjatya, Rajshri Productions' "Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon," is a complete let down. Knowing that most Rajshri ventures have some common elements and the heavy family oriented sentiments, one is not expecting a very sensible, prosaic down to earth film.

In fact, in films such as "Hum Apke Hain Kaun," there are moments that are heart warming, glitz and cloying sentimentality notwithstanding. But here, things have really reached a dead end. Bad enough, it is a rehash of their own film, "Chitchor" so well made earlier, but stretching characters and situations to ludicrous levels makes disappointment and settle down like a rock. It is depressing that people like Sooraj are so bothered about collections that they forsake normalcy in their characters and credibility in their story telling.

Take for example, the place where the heroine Sanjana (Kareena Kapoor) lives. Called Sundar Nagar, it is set obviously outside India and beautifully filmed in a place like maybe, New Zealand? But no, the filmmaker insists on telling audiences that this haven exists in India! And the hero, Prem (Hrithik Roshan), who is mistaken for the rich guy, is excruciatingly loud, exaggerated and hysterically goody-goody. The other Prem (Abhishek), is a tycoon who can set up factories at the drop of a hat — he perpetually hangs on to his mobile, till such time he hangs on to the heroine. And then, of course, there is Sanjana who pouts, screams and looks moonstruck. That is when she is not yelling her head off. Normal conversation seems impossible. MPKDH is all about love. Sanjana is the much loved and spoilt one might add, daughter of Satya Prakash (Pankaj Kapoor) and his wife, Susheela (Himani Shivpuri). Her sister, who lives in America, suggests a rich boy for Sanjana and tells her parents that this chappie is coming to India on business. Susheela, who wants such an ideal match for her daughter, goes all out to make sure that this works. Sanjana, not too thrilled with this whole thing, is determined to play hard to get.

But predictably, when he does arrive, he wins the heart of everyone including the family dog, Johnny, and Raja the parrot. This digitally created monstrosity is nauseatingly fresh in its comments.

When Sanjana and Prem are truly and well in love, there is a mail from her sister saying Prem could not make it due to some work and would be coming in at the earliest. Obviously, the Prem Sanjana is made to fall in love with is just working in the other Prem's company. Now that just won't do for Susheela, who wants a Ritchie rich for Sanjana.

There has been a spate of pre release publicity about the `tremendous' roles created by the director and the `great' music set by Anu Mallik. But when you see it, you realise that there is a big gap in perceptions. The roles are big, no doubt. But how they come across is entirely a different thing. Hrithik and Kareena are good performers! One has seen her in "Refugee" to know that she can act very well. The same can be said of Hrithik, where his sincerity always comes through, and given a chance, he can stand out. But here, they are made to play characters that are close to being high pitched. Where is the chance for them to endear themselves to audiences?

However, Abhishek as the quiet, contemplative soft guy steals the show, never mind if he is perpetually on the phone. His is a dignified performance! So is Pankaj as Sanjana's father, the only other person, who does not shout at the top of his voice. Johnny Lever is the rich Prem's sidekick, whose brand of humour leaves a lot to be desired. He is often paired with the dog Johnny and the confusion that arises because of that, constitutes the comedy track.

CHITRA MAHESH

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