Friday, April 30, 2004

Main Hoon Na 

Farah Khan’s Main Hoon Na is not a ‘female director picture’—which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on one’s point of view. The ‘gaze’ is definitely ‘male’ – again good or bad depending on who’s watching. But what is definitely a good thing is that Farah Khan is the first Indian female director, who has been able to make an expensive mainstream movie, and maybe, opened the doors a crack for other talented women, who had been pushed into the ‘women’s picture’ ghetto. So, if one female can out-Karan the Johar, so can others!

The beginning of the film with father (Naseeruddin Shah) telling son (Shah Rukh Khan) about another wife and son is right out of a Mahesh Bhatt film. Now Ram has to look for his Laxman in a Darjeeling college.

The very contrived reason for Major Ram (Khan) to join college as a student, is to protect a General’s (Kabir Bedi) daughter Sanjana (Amrita Rao), who, for the sake of script convenience hates her father and won’t accept regular bodyguards. The girl is in danger from a mad terrorist Raghavan (Sunil Shetty), who wants to stop the General’s Indo-Pak friendship bid. The missing Laxman or Lucky (Zayed Khan) is also in the same college, so it’s all tied up.

The college, of course, is a typical Hindi film chocolate box, where everyone sings, dances and parties—and no wonder, considering all the teachers are crazy—including absent-minded principal (Boman Irani—hilarious!).

Most of the movie is taken up by Ram’s attempts to befriend Lucky and his stern mother (Kirron Kher), and his very cute romance with the chemistry teacher (Sushmita Sen), who dresses in chiffon saris and backless blouses! Of course, when she is in Ram’s fantasies, she wears very little!

Funnily, Sanjna wants to attract Lucky by looking ‘feminine’ and copies the teacher’s style—though all along she was prancing in college in very tiny tops and not looking in the least tomboyish!

Somewhere down the line, way after the interval, the director remembers there is a terrorist angle to deal with—Sunil Shetty and gang have also been cooling their heels in Darjeeling-- so the film hurtles towards a hasty climax.

Farah Khan’s handling of emotional scenes (the father-son, mother-son number) is inept, her politics are totally awry (a Hindu armyman-turned-militant, trying to stop Indo-Pak peace?—never heard of such a specimen!) But where the director is bang-on is in the comic romantic scenes, fabulously performed by Shah Rukh Khan; of course the songs are well picturized (all except the title song which has Ram crooning Main hoon na to Laxman!), since that is Farah’s speciality.

The action (Allan Amin) scenes have their highpoints – like when Ram stops the killing of an innocent student and then chases the terrorists in a cycle rickshaw! Total masala stuff! Khan peppers the film with tributes to popular Hindi films through songs and little in-gags.

The highs are high the lows are very low, but on the whole Main Hoon Na is fun. Shah Rukh Khan’s high energy performance outshines all the rest, only Sushmita Sen (note the funny seduction scene), Boman Irani, and to an extent Zayed Khan manage to shine under the star’s blinding glare.


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