Some fulfilment, some negation
WISH LIST: Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Preity Zinta and Gracy Singh
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Gracy Singh
Dir: Honey Irani
HONEY IRANI need not surrender to compliments. Her ways have to be admired, her lines good enough to bear repetition, her sensitivity worthy of emulation. However, let's refrain from too much adulation as her debut venture Armaan has its bleak moments too, just as it has its sunny ones. To begin with she short-changes millions of Amitabh Bachchan fans by giving him a role he could have performed in his sleep and then woken up fresh. There is Anil Kapoor too. Over 40, not quite handsome, and quite clearly feeling the stress of attempting to look young. Also she starts off with the engaging subject of an ageing man's dream to modernise his hospital and somewhere down the line, the film loses focus from hospital to matters of heart. Oh, we forgot, doctors have a heart too and both lovebirds and ambition are impatient of rivals and delays!
Yes, these are drawbacks too glaring to be ignored by anybody but the most generous. However, if you do show a bit of munificence, are prepared to lower your expectations, then Armaan might just fulfil some of your wishes. As we said, it has its sparkling moments too. They are provided by the leading ladies. There is Gracy Singh here for the first time after Lagaan hit big time in June 2001. She brings the joy of sunshine on a winter morning, the cool breeze of a summer evening. She is poised, pleasant. She plays a doctor here who loses her heart to neurosurgeon played by Anil Kapoor. All is fine until there enters Ms Money Bags Preity Zinta as Sonia Kapoor. Then, if you remember that delectable A.R. Rahman number picturised on Gracy in Lagaan, Madhuban Mein Kanha... you will understand that here too she faces competition.
Preity Zinta, on her part, shows the verve and vivacity one has come to expect of her. As a blundering, scheming spoilt child who marries innocence with guile, she is just about perfect. Between these two talented women, Anil Kapoor's Dr. Aakash is left looking like a child faced with the difficult choice of opting between cola and candy.
There are other pluses too. There is Ravi Verman's cinematography whose landscapes of Mussoorie are like a lensman's poetry. And the timeless Savoy Hotel, said to be haunted, and used as a hospital, seldom looked more picturesque. There are some beautiful exchanges between the principal players. Javed Akhtar's dialogues make you smile without the characters resorting to facial contortions. And their chemistry makes everything plausible. That summarises Honey Irani's directorial debut with Armaan based loosely on Kishore Sahu's Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi, a 1960-film starring Raj Kumar and Meena Kumari with Nadira providing the third angle to Kumar's doctor and Kumari's nurse.
Yes, a few things unsaid, a few things understated, some half-truths, some interesting lies. That is what Armaan is all about. And if you are tempted to hum, Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Ye, Kahan Shuru Kahan Khatam, don't smother your wishes. After all, this was the song from Dil Apna... that got the `60s crowd swinging. Do a time warp, blend the old with the new, take a dive, fulfil a secret wish, watch Armaan. But do it quickly as Hindi films do not seem to be lasting a while these days.
ZIYA US SALAM
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