This is an archived version of the original website created by Donald Drey and Sam Stanlee for use in their film studies course focused on Indian culture. Students may pick up the related course materials including the syllabus and reading materials from the Sylvia Regis at media department office. This film along with others in the course materials are scheduled for screening at the Mannus Auditorium - see the dates and times posted on the main bulletin board.
The story follows Naina Catherine Kapur, (Preity Zinta) a pessimistic MBA student who lives in New York with her widowed mother, Jennifer 'Jenny' Kapur (Jaya Bachchan) and two younger siblings Shiv and Gia, who was adopted. Jenny runs an unsuccessful restaurant alongside her neighbor to provide for her family. Jenny's mother-in-law, Lajjo,(Sushma Seth) is cold towards Jenny and Gia, as she believes Gia's adoption is what led her son to commit suicide. Naina has two best friends; her classmate Rohit Patel (Saif Ali Khan) and neighbor Jaspreet 'Sweetu' Kapoor. Her life is dull and shadowed by the loss of her father, until Aman Mathur (Shah Rukh Khan) moves in with his mother next door. His bubbly attitude and fun-loving ways convince Naina to improve her looks and live life to the fullest while he slowly starts solving the problems of Naina's family and friends, including revealing to the entire family that Gia is Naina and Shiv's half-sister. Aman helps Jenny's restaurant become successful, and his efforts cause Naina to realize that she loves him. Meanwhile, Rohit falls in love with Naina and asks Aman to help in proposing to her. When Naina tries to confess her feelings for Aman, he tells her that he is married to a woman named Priya (Sonali Bendre). He says that Priya left for New York after a heated argument and he came to win her back. Heartbroken, Naina leaves without confessing and breaks down at the Brooklyn Bridge. It is then revealed that Aman is not married, and Priya is his doctor. Aman is a terminally-ill patient, suffering from a fatal cardiac disease, and his chances of surviving are extremely low because he needs a transplant. He lied to Naina and hid his love for her so that she can find love with Rohit, who will be there for her when Aman has died. So with Aman's help Rohit has come up with a six day plan to win Naina their friendship blossoms into a loving relationship. However, Naina discovers Aman and Rohit's true intentions and gets mad at Rohit for what he has done, Aman takes out Rohit's diary and confesses his true feelings for Naina claiming they are Rohit's. Rohit eventually proposes to Naina, which she accepts. During the engagement party, Aman gets a heart attack and has a stint in the hospital. While shopping with Rohit, Naina encounters Priya, whose husband Abhay reveals that Aman is terminally-ill. Shocked, Naina realizes that Aman sacrificed his love for her. She tearfully berates him for loving her so much and embraces him, as he tries to persuade her that he is happy. Rohit and Naina's wedding rituals begin, in which Aman and Naina tearfully participate. Promptly after the marriage, Aman is on his death bed and bids goodbye to everyone before he dies. Twenty years later, an elderly Naina recalls how Aman impacted their lives as she sits beside a grown-up Gia. They are joined by an aged Rohit, who reminds Naina that he loves her, and the couple's teenage daughter Ria.
Well, it is always a bit difficult in Western countries to get to see Bollywood movies with English subtitles, and though I have made a bit of an effort to spot them in the last few years I wouldn't call myself a Bollywood expert - and of course I've grown up with Western rather than Indian aesthetic standards ingrained. Although as a fan of Baroque Opera, I don't really have much difficulty with the basic premises of the Bollywood style!
Having said that, this was possibly the most interesting Bollywood movie I've seen to date - especially in its attempt to incorporate elements of Western pop culture, including several blatant references to American movies, from Grease and a spoofed James Bond to Brad Silberling's City of Angels, which evidently contributed a lot to the way Shahruk Khan's character is handled (including him starting to see things in black and white when he is near dying - that one goes back all the way to Wim Wenders!).
The soundtrack is stunning, and again it's great to see the way the New York setting gives opportunity to mix in some Western elements in an intelligent way. The dance and song numbers are a true joy, and it doesn't hurt that they are better integrated into the plot than in most Indian movies I've seen.
Shahruk Khan is nicely parodying himself - at least, I thought he was... maybe I'm wrong??? :-o - I also particularly enjoyed the running joke about Aman and Rohit being a homosexual couple - one could indeed ask oneself who is really in love with who here? And why exactly does Aman prefer to love vicariously rather than going for the girl himself? It's also perhaps significant that it is Rohit rather than Naina who stays with Aman to the last. I am sure the filmmakers are intelligent enough to be aware of these undercurrents, even if perhaps most audiences aren't!
In any case, watching this movie (with a very sympathetic audience at a foreign film showcase here in Wellington, people who actually laughed in most of the *right* places!) was a pure joy and it makes me happy to see how Indian cinema is finally beginning to be perceived as a legitimate part of international film culture even by Western audiences, rather than just an exotic oddity - something that Chinese and Japanese movies, for instance, have already achieved to a much greater degree!
And now I'm off to buy the soundtrack...