by Taran Aadarsh | Posted Dec 20, 2002
Kaleidoscope Entertainment P. Ltd.'s SAATHIYA, directed by Shaad Ali, is a remake of Mani Ratnam's ALAI PAYUTHE.
Aditya (Vivek Oberoi) meets Suhani (Rani Mukherji), a medical student, at a wedding and falls head over heels for her. He follows her relentlessly in the local trains.
Suhani, who is a daughter of a simple railway employee (Sharat Saxena-Tanuja), initially brushes him off because she wants to become a successful doctor and make her parents happy. However, his persistence pays off and she agrees.
Only to be opposed by their parents. The couple decides to part ways as she is determined not to hurt her parents.
But they can't bear being separated, so they finally come together and get married in secret. Once they are married, their true story begins. Suddenly it is not at all a happy journey. There are misunderstandings and quarrels. So where do they go from here?
The biggest problem with SAATHIYA lies in its story itself. To state that it's as old as the hills would be apt, since this theme lovers facing parental opposition has been witnessed with unfailing regularity since time immemorial.
The film starts off on an ordinary note and one expects the story to gather momentum once the protagonists fall in love. But nothing happens.
The film does pick up at the interval point when the girl confesses to her parents that she is already married, but post-interval, the writer (Mani Ratnam) and director (Shaad Ali) seemed to have taken the easy way out by relying on the tried and tested stuff, instead of trying to come up with something novel.
In the second half, the tiffs between the couple are petty tiffs, not anything dramatic, which is why the impact is not strong. The narrative picks up again towards the pre-climax when Rani meets with a car accident (by Tabu). But the sequences thereafter move at such a lethargic pace that it tests the patience of the viewer.
Another weak aspect of the film is that it has no gloss absolutely. Set in a middle class household, the story moves on an ordinary track and those expecting bigness in terms of visuals or production values will be thoroughly disappointed.
Director Shaad Ali has tackled a few sequences with maturity, but he should've opted for a fresh story for his launch. Besides, the pace drops alarmingly in the latter part of the story, soon after the accident, which makes the climax a long drawn affair.
Also, the guest appearances give the impression that they have been added, perhaps, to enhance the star appeal of the film. However, the star presence does nothing to elevate the story or the prospects of the film.
Shah Rukh Khan's role is something that could've been portrayed by just about anyone. The superstar hardly has any lines to deliver and the length of his role is miniscule. It fails to register any impact whatsoever. Ditto for a talented name like Tabu, who has been wasted in an insignificant role.
Mani Ratnam's script is old fashioned, with nothing fresh to talk of. In today's times, when Hindi cinema is going through a transition phase, plots like these instantly remind you of the social fares of 1970s and 1980s.
A.R. Rahman's music is melodious and easy on the ears. The title track is the pick of the lot, but the Shamita Shetty number can easily be deleted, for it serves as a speed breaker in the goings-on. Perhaps, even this song was added to add spice to an otherwise drab story.
Cinematography [Anil Mehta] is wonderful. Dialogues are well worded and some of them do register an impact.
SAATHIYA clearly belongs to Vivek Oberoi, who enacts his part within. Enacting a role that is in sharp contrast to his first two films, the youngster comes up with a sparkling performance, which is sure to multiply his fan following.
Rani Mukherji is efficient. She looks pretty and does her part with conviction. Amongst character artists, Sandhya Mridul, as Rani's elder sister, is first-rate. Tanuja is just about okay. The remaining names are mere gap fillers.
On the whole, SAATHIYA is too old fashioned a fare, which will appeal to a select few at metros mainly. In the face of a strong opposition (KAANTE), the prospects of SAATHIYA appear bleak.
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