Almost everyone knows about "Main Hoon Na", the Shah Rukh Khan backed film debut by director, Farah Khan.
I am sensitive to violence and try to avoid it but with Indian movies that has proven hard to do. The underlying theme of Main Hoon Na is the tense relations between India and Pakistan. There are several scenes with violence. While I could cover my eyes, I couldn't block out the sound.
I appreciated the underlying story of attempts to make peace with Pakistan and to illustrate the horrors of past conflicts. This is another thing I appreciate about Indian films. Most call them escapist but they are hardly that when many feature subplots regarding corruption, deception, abandoned children, abused women and, of course, violence. These elements are not far from the reality of many Indians. Most Indian movies try to end by solving the plot conflicts, by having the bad guy get captured, jailed, killed, or in some way punished. Indian films raise many social issues and attempt to correct injustices.
In the film, terrorists threaten to disrupt a fragile peace process by threatening the life of the Army General's daughter. Major Ram (SRK) is sent to her college town to act as a student and serve as a bodyguard. At the same time, he is on a personal mission to find his half-brother Lakshman (Zayed Khan) and heal old wounds.
Other reviews have dealt with the various subplots and pivotal scenes, suffice it to say that the General's daughter; Sanjana (Amrita Rao) and Lakshman are used by Raghavan (Suniel Shetty), the terrorist, in an attempt to derail the exchange of Pakistan and Indian prisoners of war.
Luckily, most of the movie focuses on the college antics of Sanjana, Lakshman, and their classmates which spells out lots of songs, dances, and fun as Ram gets to know Lakshman, his mother, Sanjana, and the college chemistry teacher.
I loved so many scenes, the opening dance number, Ram’s comic fashion changes, the fantastic song and dance dream sequences, and the humor.
I did appreciate the special effects in the confrontation scenes with Ram and Raghavan. I have to say though, I hated to see SRK take the body blows and falls. I winced because I was aware of his back problems.
Zayed Khan (Lakshman), who stepped in to replace Hrithrik Roshan, did a great job; some reviewers dissed his dancing skills. But, I say hey, the guy dances, for me that's more than enough plus he has his own sweet style. I love men who dance.
Sushmita Sen as the chemistry teacher was elegant. Amrita Rao has a lot of style. Her acting was very convincing and her dancing was charming. I don't know how tall she is but she looks like a sprite, so tiny and delicate. The supporting cast was great, too.
I loved the ending of the film when they introduced the credits. The various scenes make me laugh and I dance to the music. The only disappointment was Gauri Khan, the producer and SRK's wife, did not put in a personal appearance. My guess is that Main Hoon Na credits may be the only film credits that are read in their entirety.
I also appreciate the fact that SRK is so open in his interviews; I have learned a lot about film making from him. I appreciate the fact that he wants all his films to succeed on many levels and he is willing to go the extra mile to achieve that. After months of hard work, the filmgoer is transported for a few hours.
For me, Main Hoon Na is like the end of a long pleasant trip. I have followed SRK’s career since 2002, purposefully going back to his early films in an attempt to watch him grow as an actor. I think I achieved that. Khan has grown as an actor. While watching Main Hoon Na, it was hard to remember him in Deewana as the young man in love, who shook with the realization that he now wanted something in his life, a woman, a wife, and who cried bitterly as he pounded a brick wall. He jumped with energy, had a baby face and flying, black hair.
Khan has grown into a handsome man with chiseled cheeks, his hair trimmed and slicked back. His acting is polished. His emotional expressions while forceful are more tightly controlled. He's the adult now mingling with youth. A role reversal. But, his energy and joy of life still shine through. Now that I am watching SRK in real time, it's interesting to see the various mature roles he is taking on in films like Montabbein, Devdas, Chalte Chalte, and Ka Ho Na Ha. This is another thing I like about Indian movies, Indian movie stars really work hard their whole career and since Indian movies are multi-generational, stars can play a variety of characters their whole lives. To my mind, western movies focus almost entirely on youth.
In human relations, Shah Rukh Khan's generosity to others is paid back like some law of physics that says the more you give the more you get.
There are many reasons why Shah Rukh Khan is a star. One basic reason is the camera loves him. He looks good from any angle.
What will Farah Khan do next?
I think Ms. Khan has the right approach to her work and it's a similar one for SRK, do what you love. Farah loves to dance and now she loves to direct. But, she says she has no new project in the works because nothing interests her. Boy, wouldn't I love to take a break from work and only do the jobs I liked. It's really not a bad idea, because when you love something you give it your best.
(c) 2004 Canary Press Co.
Bengali mini-review multi-pack
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