Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lamhe, or, Celebrate the Moments of Two Lives...

(Oh, man, now I'll have the International Coffee commercial jingle I got that title from stuck in my head.)

I haven’t watched all that many movies from before the mid-nineties, mostly because I have a queue of about 90 movies in my Netflix account and it seemed more fun to look at those with modern production values first. Lamhe (Moments), however, might have changed that. This 1991 movie, starring Anil Kapoor (mustacheless in the first half! eep!), Sridevi, Waheeda Rehman, and Anupam Kher, has everything: an interesting storyline, great acting, and fantastic music. I really enjoyed it (which probably explains its failure at the box office! Again!).

Viren (Anil) has been raised by his Daijaa (Waheeda-ji) in London, but he returns to his parents’ Rajasthani house for the first time to conduct some business. When a rainstorm blows into town, the young man looks out from his terrace and beholds Pallavi (Sridevi) dancing and singing. Of course he instantly falls for her—look at this picture and tell me, who wouldn’t?


Her father, the local Thakur, was a close friend of Viren’s parents. He allows Pallavi to show Viren around their area. Viren, a bashful and sensitive guy, can barely speak in Pallavi’s presence, but that’s okay because she’s outgoing enough for two. She’s older, and makes the most of it, but it doesn’t affect Viren’s affections. They share some beautiful moments (hee) out on the sand dunes, and Viren realizes he would do anything for her. (She should have asked him to grow a mustache.) However, when tragedy strikes, as was inevitable, of course, the most loving thing he can do for Pallavi is let her go with his love undeclared.

But what happens when, nineteen years after saying goodbye, he meets Pallavi’s daughter Pooja for the first time—and she’s an exact duplicate of her mother?

For an older Bollywood movie, Lamhe is surprisingly WTF-free. The only exceptions were the large amounts of slappage going on and Anupam Kher’s frequent overacting as Prem, Viren’s best friend. In a movie lacking the other three actors’ relatively realistic performances, his grandstanding might not have been so painfully in-your-face, but as it is… Um, and the Flashdance sequence with Pooja dancing like Tommy Boy, which of course was precisely when my husband walked into the room and inquired if I was sure the movie wasn’t named Lame. Oh yeah, and the sweaters. The sweaters are, without exception, awful.

Sridevi is the highlight of Lamhe. She deserved to win her Filmfare award the next year for this performance. It’s a tough job to portray two similar but not-the-same women dealing with differing relationship dynamics with every other main character, and she totally nailed it. Of course, without Anil’s equally strong performance she wouldn’t have had much to work with. In the first half he perfectly captures the agony of a shy, intense person’s first deep affections, his heartbreak, and inability to recover. And in the second half he’s completely believable as a powerful man resigned to second best in his personal life, too wary to believe he could find real happiness.

And Waheeda-ji! There are many other women who could have played the part of Daijaa, but none would have do so as well, or brought so much depth to what could have been a stereotypical maa-type role. Plus, it was just awesome fun to see her dancing to “Aaj Phir Jeene ki Tamanna Hai” from Guide in the delightful tribute-filled parody sequence. Which, by the way, is a precursor to RNBDJ’s “Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte” and also five times better since it actually is part of the story.

Which brings me to the songs. I got lazy and sent the DVD back without bothering to copy the songs list from the DVD menu, and now I’m paying for it because the lists I can find don’t have them in order of appearance in the film. However, I can tell you that the soundtrack is amazing, with the exception of “Mohe Chedo Na,” which was completely pointless and wasn’t worth the time spent on it. Well, except that it did give everyone the opportunity to see Sridevi looking gorgeous yet again. (I swear, the woman doesn’t have a bad angle.) From the gorgeous “Kabhi Main Kahoon,” to the sweet “Gudiya Raani Bitya Raani” that overlays Pooja’s growing up scenes, to the cute anticipation of “Meri Bindiya Teri Nindiyan,” every other track is a standout.

I would also like to point out that Sridevi was universally considered to be completely gorgeous, and also was obviously not a size zero. That is all. Lamhe is worth every penny.

19 comments:

  1. Oh yay!! I love "Lamhe"! My understanding is that it was a hit overseas but not with the masses.

    I had to do some mental math and make young Anil 16 at the beginning to make the ending pairing a 16/32 which, while not strictly kosher, is still fairly palatable.

    Didn't you love that song in the desert with Ila Arun on vocals?! So pretty!! And Meri Bindya is a class, too.

    And WORD on Anupam Kher - I hate when he plays comedic characters. He should stick only to evil fathers.

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  2. I've heard good things about this one, but not sure when I'll get to see. I desperately need to make a visit to my movie store.

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  3. one of my favorite films wiht my favorite actress. she was awesome and so was anil kapoor. i practically have this movie memeorized and it was so ahead of its time

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  4. Good review Ajnabi. This was a good movie as you rightly point out. Songs, Sridevi plus locales in Rajasthan made it awesome

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  5. YAAAAAYY! Someone else likes this too! I love this movie because its soo complex, and Anil and Sridevi are so good together, and though when i watched it as an older person it still was a good movie instead of watching when i was 6 and being shocked at my ANil without a mouche! And the hilarious angry dance with repeats of the smacks was HOWLARRIOOUSSS!

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  6. Filmi Girl: Well, it says that 18 years pass after Pooja's birthday before Viren meets her again, so at least she's legal. LOL But yeah, it's still kinda weird to be thinking of an 18- and 36-year-old together. They made me go with it though! That desert song was gorgeous. I actually wondered if it was Kirron Kher playing the gypsy but in the end it was someone else.

    shell: It's definitely worth a look--I hope you find it when you go!

    JJC--really, Sridevi's your favorite? I'll have to look up more of her films; goodness knows she's made lots to choose from!

    Anonymous: Thanks! And yeah, the Rajasthani setting made for a beautiful film, didn't it?

    Rum: The Dance of Indignation was fully awesome. I replayed it twice just so I could giggle.

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  7. I'm glad you liked Lamhe, it's been a while but I loooved it too

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  8. Ajnabi, Lamhe was my first Sridevi movie, and although I have my reservations about the story I thought the music, the dancing, the Rajasthani settings and especially Sridevi herself were amazing. This movie and Chandni could have been retitled "The Many Moods of Sridevi"...

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  9. Nicki, I did like it! (And was surprised I did. LOL)

    Pessimisissimo: I almost went overboard with the screencaps of Sridevi because her face is just so expressive. She definitely was the best reason to watch the film.

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  10. Srivedi was brilliant in Lamhe. I think she's one of the best actresses Bollywood has ever seen or will see in the future.

    And here's wishing you a very happy birthday! :-) Loads of luck and good wishes for the year ahead.

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  11. Thank you so much, Bhargav--I had a lovely birthday and appreciate your good wishes! :-)

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  12. I remember seeing this first on video and while away from India, the year it was released. Everyone seemed to like it. And when I returned to India after the hols, the reaction was remarkably different. I was probably too young at the time to try to have an educated opinion on why that was, but I do recall discussing (w/ fellow cousins...we *love* Mr. India!) the head v. heart dilemma Anil must've faced. Our conclusion spoke volumes of our maturity: When Sridevi is involved, head and heart align! :D

    Haven't seen Lamhe since, but I haven't seen anything with the Sridevi and Anil Kapoor pairing that I haven't enjoyed immensely. Hope you get to check out more of Sridevi's works. Sheer class! And probably my first ever Bolly crush (although Juhi, Neelam, and Sangeeta Bijlani were right up there too, LOL ;)

    PS: Finally catching up on the posts/comments, glad you had a good bday!

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  13. Great, I just saw this too! Lot of great things going for it, although it had a few amateurish moments at the beginning (Pallavi's Dad's last scene and the scene where we Pallavi seems to be OK after they casually bring the baby out of the hospital room).

    Yes, Anil is a bit slap-happy in this one. I wanted to slap Anil for slapping Sridevi, but the slapdance was just weird enough to be awesome! I wish I could dance out my anger sometimes. Yeah, and it looked like Flashdance to me too, I wondered if it was just me, for a minute I wondered if Flashdance copied it.

    And I laughed hysterically at the comment made at the end of the scene where Anil gets slapped.

    Like the others, I was skeptical of the premise, but Anil's own skepticism and Sridevi's sincerity made it work. Sridevi had a lot of great lines in it, too.

    Loved the songs plus the lengthy picturization tribute sequence as well

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  14. oops I should have said:

    And I laughed hysterically at the comment made at the end of the scene where Anupam gets slapped.

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  15. tBF: I'm still surprised it tanked at home, but your anecdote sheds a little more light on the subject. I agree with moviemeh, Sridevi's addressing of the concerns instead of pretending they weren't there at all made it acceptable to me, plus, like you said, SRIDEVI. I mean, how was Anil supposed to turn her down? LOL And thanks!

    moviemeh: That comment was AWESOME. I laughed too. And the tribute sequence was really great; I would've felt well-rewarded for that alone.

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  16. I am really, really, really loving Sridevi after seeing this and "Chandni". Have you seen that one yet? You must! Great review, as usual.

    P.S. I rewatched "RNBDJ" the other night and enjoyed it very much. Lol. Somehow it worked better in the context of my living room than it did on the big screen.

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  17. Nida: I have Chandni but haven't seen it yet. After Lamhe I seriously can't wait. And hooray! I'm glad you liked RNBDJ better on rewatch!

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  18. For Sridevi's awesome acting talents pls see her first tamil movie as an adult (she was a child star too) "16 Vaidneele" and also "Moornam Perai" with Kamala Hasan. The hindi version of 16 yrs called solwa sawan was not so good as the original tamil version.

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  19. Anonymous: I saw on her Wikipedia entry that she was already a big star in the south when she entered Hindi films too. I'd love to check out those films if I can find them--thanks for the recommendations.

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