Despite cliches, strikes a chord
STYLE AND SUSBTANCE: Sushmita Sen in Main Aisa Hi Hoon.
Main Aisa Hi Hoon
The cast: Ajay Devgan,
Sushmita Sen, Esha Deol and Anupam Kher
The director: Harry Baweja
The storyline: About the world of an adult with the mind of a seven-year-old.
The bottom: Brilliant, well almost
Bollywood is changing. Remember "Black", that brilliant peek into the world of people who can't tell sunshine from silhouettes? Now Harry Baweja tries to walk down the Sanjay Leela Bhansali lane with "Main Aisa Hi Hoon," a film delectable by half, a film that could have been memorable but falls tragically short.
It is a film one would have labelled brave had the director not strayed too often from storytelling and avoided those needless songs. It is a film that would have caused a lump in the throat had the director just built a plot around a man whose biological and mental age are inversely proportional - he is an adult with the mind of a seven-year-old. It is a film that could have been a vast improvement on Ajay Devgan's last such outing in Mahesh Manjrekar's "Tera Mera Saath Rahe," where he played a protective brother to a child similarly affected. Really, with a man-child, a child-woman - Esha Deol - who has stomped out of her father's mansion in London only to find herself in Shimla, and a lovely girl child, the film had so much potential to please the aesthetes, to assuage the jangled nerves. But the way things turn out, it is a shade disappointing.
There is an occasional moist eye, though. Still the courtroom battle of a father to gain custody of his daughter engages. And Devgan puts up a brave front to his limited repertoire. Every now and then it strikes a chord. But just then the clichés take over. The hero has two friends, similarly impaired. The child has schoolmates who tease her for her "mad" dad. The teacher in school is not helpful. And the only light in their life, Lilette Dubey as Ritu Di, has a dark and mysterious past. Come on, when was the last time so many stereotypes were assembled so senselessly in a film that requires sensitivity?
But all is not lost. The father-daughter lullabies are a welcome change from Bollywood's good old mother putting her child to sleep. And in Sushmita Sen there is a gem. She saves this film from slipping to unbearable tedium, investing every frame with the right hues, the right nuances, in her portrayal of a lawyer helping Devgan win the custody of the child! If only she had as much support!
Never mind, Esha Deol gives it all in her brief dance-and-disappear role. Devgan adds another feather, and Anupam Kher makes a rare appearance on the screen as the child's grandfather aiming to take her away to riches and mansions in London!
ZIYA US SALAM
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