Thursday, June 26, 2008

Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, or, Kishen and Kumar Go To WTF??? Central



"Is he on crack in this movie, by the way?"

That was my husband's sole question when he heard the strains of Hrithik's insanely delivered dialogue floating up the stairs this morning.

Haha. I only thought Chori Chori was in our mailbox. What was actually in our mailbox was the mailing flap with my address on it from Netflix. The rest of the package is either on a postal truck between here and Denver or on its way back to its Netflix home. I called Netflix but they wouldn't send a replacement for Chori Chori till it was officially late, so instead the Customer Service people sent the next thing on my queue, which because I am a completist and must watch all HrithiKareena movies, was Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, or in English: I'm Crazy About Prem. Prem means love, so I guess it could also mean I'm Crazy About Love, but the main character's name is Prem so I'm sticking with my original interpretation.

It's a 2003 movie starring Kareena Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan, Himani Shivpuri, Pankaj Kapur, and OMG Johnny Lever, whose onscreen appearance was greeted with an "Oh, shit," by both myself and my viewing companion.

This movie is one long collage of SuperFantastic Bollywood Moments, and at some point, I can't quite pin the actual point but it's there, it crosses the line into WTF and stays there for the duration of the film. Here's a synopsis, if you care: Sanjana (Kareena) just graduated from high school--no wait, it's college, which in Hindi films bears an alarming resemblance to American TV high school. And that also explains how she can play an electric guitar that isn't plugged in, because everybody knows that in India, colleges have a magical electricity current that allows electric guitars to function without amps (see: KKHH, K3G, Main Hoon Na, and too many others to count).

She is best friends with the Desi Spice Girls, and her role in the troupe is Shayaar (Poet) Spice. Or perhaps Arty Spice, because she also paints and plays guitar very unconvincingly. Her parents want her to get married, but she's "Papa's Li'l Angel," as the subtitles so captivatingly put it, and so she knows she won't be forced to marry against her will. Her sister, an NRI in (where else?) New York, knows a very rich guy named Prem who owns a corporate group her husband has dealings with. Prem's mom liked Sanjana's photos (incomprehensibly rendered "snaps" in the subtitles even though the English "photo" is used in the spoken dialogue) so she arranges for Prem to come look Sanjana over in India.

Prem (Hrithik) comes and he is on speed, but because he is rich Sanjana's mom gracefully overlooks his obvious dependence on illegal substances. After he threatens to beat up a guy who almost runs over Sanjana's father, Sanjana and her dad come around too, as do the Desi Spice Girls. And then, at the interval, we discover that, OMG, he is totally the wrong Prem, he's Prem Kumar who works for Prem Kishen. Prem Kishen (Abhi's character) couldn't be bothered to meet yet another marital prospect so he sent Kumar in his place. This must've totally messed with the Indian moviegoers' minds, because Sooraj R. Barjatya always names his main guy Prem in his movies. Now they didn't know which Prem to root for.

The kind of superhot-for-Bollywood "O Ajnabi" song picturization

There are (a few) things that I liked about this movie. For instance, it actually shows close female friendships, which I've rarely run across in Hindi films and were really sweet. Hey, Sanjana, Sporty Spice, Slut Spice, Nerdy Spice and Nondescript Spice all totally have your back, girlfriend! During their moments of angst when the truth comes out, Hrithik and Kareena do an excellent job of conveying their heartbreak. I actually found myself caring about the outcome at that point. And Abhi does a really great job of acting, not overacting, which definitely makes him stand out from the rest of the cast.

There's a long deleted scene that has no subtitles, but believe me, this movie lacks all subtlety and you'll be able to figure it out regardless. Also it includes a couple cute filmi kisses and the terrible "Sanjana, I Love You" song.

I was privileged to watch the first half with a group of children, including our 9-year-old neighbor, and she kept me appraised of the eccentricities of the film while I drifted in and out. "Look! They have a cartoon parrot! Does Raj really mean Robin Hood?"

"Look! The dog's head turned into cartoon Clifford with rabies! Why is the rest of him not cartoon?"

"Look! The dog eats at the table with the family! He has a booster seat!"

"Look! The subtitles say UR for 'your!' Did they text them into the movie?"

"Look! When she screams she makes that guy shoot backwards! Does she have superpowers?"

"Wait! How did he know they were going to look at his feet? Where did he get Hobbit shoes?"

And finally, the kiss of death: "Is this a kids' movie?" spoken in tones of utter disdain.

I made my husband watch the second half with me. At the end, he said, "I'm going to go poke out my eyeball with a hot skewer so my eyes hurt less. I can't believe you made me watch. I can't believe they made me care about how it ended. I can't believe we skipped through five scenes and it was still that long."


Hrithik and Kareena on the Love Boat. Yes, the Love Boat.


Now that's Bollywood magic for you. A completely awful film and yet you still care enough to see how it ends. Now, the soundtrack is pretty good, especially Kasam Ki Kasam and the title song. Despite that, however, MPKDH is worth about half a cent. Watch at your own risk.

10 comments:

  1. I am still trying to recover from the completely fun post- :D Bollywood has such a wonderful capacity to be ear-bleedingly horrible at times- which I think is one of the things I love about it :)

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  2. Now, why didnt I think of watching this movie with kids? Could have had as much fun watching it as you did! Never mind, I had my fun quota reading your review. :-)

    This was a remake of an earlier Rajshri movie from the 70s called Chitchor (Thief of Heart/mind) which was a lot better in terms of acting. I usually dont care for Rajshri productions' bland fare but thought I should see this for Hrithik-Kareena. All I can say is that my Hrithik-love survived the movie - by hair's breadth!

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  3. Shweta--I agree! Bollywood has such a fun WTF factor--very different from Hollywood's, where I'm likely to be going, "Wait, they just met after not seeing each other for ten years and they're gonna sleep together? WTF?" (Yeah, I watched Jumper this weekend.)

    Bollyviewer--the kids did make it enjoyable, especially since they have no compunctions about laughing uproariously at every goofy thing about this movie. I wonder if Chitchor would be worth looking up...

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  4. Ha ha ajnabi, this is an excellent review---and much better than the film! Perhaps because I find Hrithik's "acting" unbearable, I hated it.

    I feel for your husband, I really do.

    Incidentallly, I watched SRK's Badshah with my nephew who was 8 or so at the time, really did add a whole new dimension of fun!

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  5. Wow. I laughed so hard at your review that my sister-in-law came to see what was going on. I ADORE the comments by the kids. And I may even try Badshah for the THIRD time if I can borrow someone's kid.
    Genius,ajnabi!!!

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  6. Memsaab--thanks for the props! I think I'm gonna have to look up Badshah. It sounds like fun.

    And, yay! Prahajess made it to my blog! :-D

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  7. OMG I too called them the Spice Girls! Their big dance number gets stuck in my head regularly. I actually sort of like this one, mainly for Kareena and Abhishek and Pankaj Kapoor. I'm an even split on Barjatya, actually, with this one and Maine Pyar Kiya going in the "I sorta liked that" category and the other two making me run screaming. Then again, I do have a legendary soft spot for Kareena.

    Be careful with Badshah - it's awful :) But in the flailing, squeaky-voiced SRK way.

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  8. LOL, Beth, that is so funny! I really like Kareena too so I was pretty sure I would be able to at least tolerate MPKDH but turned out I was wrong in a running-screaming-for-the-hills sort of way. But I really like that moment when Kareena's sobbing at Prem 1's feet and Abhi comes and lifts her up. So awesomely Bollycool.

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  9. Hey there! Cool blog! I totally agree with you about MPKDH!!! Thanks for visiting my blog too. Are you from Bollywhat too?

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  10. Hey Nicki! Yes, I'm from Bollywhat--my screen name there's jlhs. :-)

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