(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.