Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

*may contain spoilers*

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been redeemed in my eyes. After the monotonous fare that was presented to me in the form of Saawarya, I was delighted to watch a film that not only stirred my senses but my emotions as well with characters I could truly connect with. Star crossed lovers and love triangles have been the meat and bones of Bollywood for a good many years, and we get served both in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. It is a story true to the Bollywood romance formula, but where some may end up being merely carbon copies of each other, this one deviates from the norm.

While the root of this film is simple, the characters are not necessarily so. Aishwarya Rai gives a brilliantly expressive performance in a role I've seen numerous times, most recently done by Kajol in Hote Hote Pyaar Ho Gaya, but where Kajol failed in her sincerity, Aishwarya rules. At first you see her as the insurgent, but dutiful daughter who's resolve slowly melts away as infatuation sets in. Her secret courtship with Sameer is cute and entertaining, and, in an example of art imitating life, we can see these two actually falling in love. All's well until we see the eventual course of Nadini's fate change with the introduction of Vanraj's proposal. Aish does well in switching from enamored girl to apathetic wife, and emotes so effectively that you can see very clearly the moment she falls in love again.

I have said it before and I'll probably continue to say it, but I am not a huge fan of Salman Khan. However, I was pleasantly surprised with him in this film. His role as the Indian/Italian man who talks to his dead father and falls in love with the teacher's daughter was playfully adolescent. Here is a lad that lives for the moment in every respect, and while there's something to be said for being carefree, at some point you need to face responsibility. For this reason, I had a hard time stomaching the thought that this was the man Nandini was choosing. That being said, Salman carries off the humor and light moments of his role quite well - even including a preposterous amount of shirtless scenes. Oh, Sallu, what would we ever do without your infamous torso!

The only other movie I have seen Ajay Devgan in was the low brow Golmaal Returns, in which he failed to leave much of an impression on me. In this film he shines gloriously as Vanraj, a man who loves so selflessly that his only desire is to see the happiness of his intended, even if it means losing her in the end. From their first meeting during Nimbooda to the discovery that Nandini loves another man to the scene on the bridge when she leaves to meet Sameer (where, incidentally, my heart shattered into a million tiny little pieces), Ajay displays a mature sensitivity in this role that is bound to turn anyone into an instant fan. If I had to pick one thing that stood out in this film above anything else, for me it was Ajay. Vanraj has surely stolen a little bit of my heart!

As if the performances weren't already enough reason to watch, Bhansali, true to form, has left absolutely no stones unturned in regards to the movie's production value. Technically, the film is outstanding. Anil Mehta brings out the best of traditional Gujarati/Rajasthani architecture in his cinematography. The sets are extravagant and the whole production looks luscious and expensive with its grandiose sets and costumes.

Introduce Ismail Darbar. In his first attempt at musical direction, Darbar hits it out of the park with an amazing soundtrack and score, and how could it not with the likes of Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy and a plethora of other extremely talented playback singers at his disposal. The brilliance of the music is further exaggerated by wonderful choreography and perhaps one of the best integration of songs into the narrative of a movie that I've seen in a while.

My favorite picturizations:

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is 100% Bollywood, offering the very best in every possible category of what Hindi film making has to give. Bansali, my faith has been restored!

10 Response to "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam"

  1. bollywooddeewana says:
    July 7, 2009 at 8:08 PM

    This was my first Sanjay film, and i loved the ending i was so afraid she was gonna choose Salman, i was happy when she went with Ajay plus Nimbooda Nimbooda is such an earworm, I couldn't get it out of my head for weeks

  2. shell says:
    July 7, 2009 at 9:01 PM

    I know. I kept thinking there's no way she can go with Sameer. I liked this movie a lot, even though it was quite similar to Hote Hote Pyaar Ho Gaya, which I thought was a colassal waste of time. I think it's my favorite Sanjay film for sure.

  3. theBollywoodFan says:
    July 7, 2009 at 9:43 PM

    I've probably seen the first half of this film too many times than is healthy for anyone. The second half, I'm not too fond of, but I'm biased because of how Style Bhai is treated :'(

    Having said that, you're spot on with everything. It's an excellent dose of Bollywood with fantastic music and art direction, and Salman and Ash in fine form! (And of course Ajay Devgan.)

    You've been watching some good movies lately, Shell!

  4. shell says:
    July 7, 2009 at 9:56 PM

    The second half certainly doesn't have the flair that the first half did, though it did have some great flashback scenes.

    I'm slowly trying to muddle my way through the movies i've recorded off of B4U. I was very excited to get 1942: Earth, but then found out it wasn't subtitled. Argh!

    Anyway, the movies I seem to watch are hit and miss, as most of them are movies I bought even prior to blogging or found on, so none of them are recommendations.
    Too many movies, too little time.

  5. Anonymous Says:
    July 27, 2009 at 6:56 PM

    Totally agree with your comments on Sawanriya and HDDCS. This was a real good movie and very enjoyable esp when it released in 1999. Still worth seeing again and again for its music, direction and choreography. Ajay was too good and earned millions of followers after this movie.

    Imagine my torture in sitting through Sawanriya in a theatre! The melodious music of this movie was totally wasted. I would say Sanjay Leela Bhansali at his worst self indulgence

  6. shell says:
    July 28, 2009 at 7:34 AM

    @ Anon - I could not imagine see Saawariya in the theatre. I can see how it would have a strong following, but, despite it's look, the story just doesn't have enough to hold my attention. It could be a love it or hate it kind of film.
    As for HDDCS - I loved Ajay in it. He was my favorite party I think. It is truly a Bollywood experience.

  7. Rathi says:
    December 2, 2009 at 10:29 PM

    Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is a remake of an older Tamil movie called 'Antha ezhu natkal' (meaning Those 7 days), which itself was officially remade in Hindi as 'Woh Saat Din' (meaning 'Those 7 days' too) although SLB himself pretended it was news to him :)
    P.S: I hated all the 3 versions :)

  8. shell says:
    December 3, 2009 at 8:30 AM

    Interesting. So, I wonder why such a big deal is made when ideas are "borrowed" from Hollywood. My favorite thing about this movie was not the acting, but the opulence. It is a beautiful movie to look at I think. Good thing there are hundreds of movies out there, something for everyone.

  9. Anonymous Says:
    December 30, 2009 at 10:09 AM

    I'm not a huge fan of Salman but I dare you to watch Hum Aapke Hain Koun and see if you change your mind. Madhuri and Salman in a movie with everything that makes Bollywood wonderful. Plus great supporting cast with Anupam Kher, Aloknath, Bindu and of course Tuffy. Just watch or this is the movie that made me fall for Madhuri and Salman is wonderful.

  10. shell says:
    December 30, 2009 at 11:43 AM

    Even though I don't care for Salman, I still watch some of his movies. I'll try that one and let you know what I think. I've heard he has others that may change my opinion as well. So many movies, so little time!