by Taran Adarsh | Posted Dec 15, 2000Yash Raj Films P. Ltd.'s MOHABBATEIN is a film that portrays the battle between love and fear. It is a film that is based in a small North Indian town. A film that is set in one of the most prestigious educational institutions of the country -- Gurukul.
The autocratic disciplinarian Narayan Shankar (Amitabh Bachchan) governs Gurukul with an iron hand. He runs the institution keeping in mind its three pillars -- Tradition, Honour and Discipline. Every year he reminds the fresh batch of students that the outside world is closed to them once they have decided to enrol in this prestigious institution. And he warns them that any flouting or bending of rules will not be tolerated.
To this institution come three youngsters. Boys from different parts of the country, with difference characteristics and different stories to tell. They enter this cold and strict atmosphere where only excellence is encouraged, where fun and frivolity is frowned upon, where laughing or sharing a joke is deemed unacceptable.
It is here that Vicky (Uday Chopra), Sameer (Jugal Hansraj) and Karan (Jimmy Shergill) form a kind of unbreakable bond. A bond that will require them to face the most difficult of tests and make choices that they never thought that they would have to make. Because it is here that these boys break the cardinal rule of Gurukul and Narayan Shankar... they fall in love.
When Vicky, Sameer and Karan first meet Ishika (Shamita Shetty), Sanjana (Kim Sharma) and Kiran (Preeti Jhangiani), respectively, their lives are placed in a turmoil as they would like to meet the girls, talk to the girls and dream about the girls, but the omnipotent figure of Narayan Shankar looms large.
It is only with the arrival of Raj Aryan (Shah Rukh Khan), the maverick music teacher, who encourages the boys to follow their hearts and break open the gates of Gurukul, that the boys actually begin living a life that they earlier only dreamed of.
MOHABBATEIN slowly becomes a story of the battle between what the two stellar men -- Narayan Shankar and Raj Aryan -- stand for. Two stubborn men who live their lives with completely opposing principles. One who stands for love and everything that the heart encompasses and the other who stands for discipline and fear and who believes that love only leads to pain and weakness.
MOHABBATEIN is one of the most eagerly awaited films of all times. Produced by Yash Chopra, the film is the second release from the director of DILWALE DULHANIYA LE JAYENGE. It brings together two super-stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, face to face for the first time. Obviously, you expect the moon in terms of entertainment.
MOHABBATEIN meets the expectations, but disappoints in two major departments - the screenplay and the length of the film. But first, the plus points.
The basic plot is refreshingly different from the Mills & Boons fares one is so used to witnessing in film after film. The conflict between Amitabh and Shah Rukh is another trump card of this enterprise. Moreover, the three love stories have been cleverly woven in the narration and heighten the conflict between Amitabh and Shah Rukh.
Writer-director Aditya Chopra has handled the confrontation sequences between the two stars with aplomb. Not once do you feel that the writer in Chopra has tilted on any one side. The two stars have been given equal footage and importance, both get to deliver punch packed dialogues and both look the characters they portray.
But there are a few loose ends in the screenplay, notable among them being the fact that Amitabh chooses to remain silent despite Shah Rukh's throwing a challenge at him. Despite being a strict disciplinarian, Amitabh bows down to every demand that Shah Rukh makes, although he maintains time and again that he is against any changes.
Even the love stories of the three love pairs seem to have been stretched at times. After establishing the two principal characters, Aditya Chopra deviates from the main plot and goes to lengths to develop the three love stories, which didn't deserve as much footage as has been projected. But barring Uday Chopra-Shamita Shetty, the romantic track of the other two lovers does not generate any excitement.
The Jugal Hansraj-Kim Sharma love story suffers due to the fact that it has been stretched unduly. Ditto for the romantic tale of Jimmy Shergill-Preeti Jhangiani, which also takes a long time to culminate.
The film could've also done without a few characters, which add to the length of the film ? the Amrish Puri-Shefali track in Jimmy's love story and the comedy track involving Anupam Kher-Archana Puransingh. A few songs can also be deleted to make the narration crisper.
Director Aditya Chopra is at his best when he is handling the two stars. The goings-on don't get overdramatic even once in those scenes. Even the transition of the love stories in the initial reels is captivating. But Aditya should've realised the importance of the length, what can be conveyed in two-and-a-half hours need not be stretched to three hours and thirty-six minutes. This kind of a length was just not required!
Jatin-Lalit's music is of a mixed variety. The film has a couple of numbers that stand out, notable among them being 'Humko Humise Chura Lo' and 'Aankhen Khuli Ho Ya Ho Bandh'. The music piece, picturised on the three lovers, is excellent as well. Manmohan Singh's cinematography is brilliant. The exterior of Gurukul (shot in U.K.) gives the film a rich look. Dialogues, penned by Aditya Chopra, are poetic and touch the heart.
It is very difficult to draw comparisons between the two principal performances. Amitabh Bachchan lends class to his role that required a performer of substance. He looks every bit the character he is required to portray, a strict disciplinarian. Cast in a role that goes well with his age, he is sure to be loved by one and all. Shah Rukh Khan is outstanding as Raj Aryan. The tension-filled scenes with Amitabh and then the light ones with the boys prove that he is an actor with an infinite range. The sequence in the climax, when he surrenders to Amitabh's wishes to safeguard the interests of the three boys, is applaud-worthy. Aishwarya Rai has nothing concrete to do, although she appears in bits and parts.
Among the three love pairs, it is Uday Chopra who stands out with a winning performance. He is confident while facing the two giants and uses his physique to his advantage in other scenes. Jimmy Shergill is quite good, though his role is very much the stereotype. Jugal Hansraj is awkward, though he tries his best to make an impression.
Among the three heroines, only Preeti Jhangiani is adequate. Her Indian looks and the simplicity that the character demanded comes out in the film. Shamita Shetty lacks the looks of a heroine, while Kim Sharma tries hard to look convincing but fails.
Amrish Puri is wasted in an insignificant role. So is Shefali. Anupam Kher and Archana Puransingh are just about okay.
On the whole, MOHABBATEIN has a towering cast and terrific initial as its trump cards, but its excessive length is its biggest drawback. The film needs to be trimmed by at least twenty-five minutes to make the pace faster. Keeping the Diwali period in mind, the film will see its investors happy.