Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Do NOT watch this movie. No, not even if the alternative is taking a bullet to the head. Because quick death is much better than the slow, agonizing death that will face you in the theatre. 

And die you shall. If not out of boredom, then out of sheer misery. For three hours, you will have to sit in a rustling theatre full of whispering people and watch open-mouthed as Bollywood takes flying leaps over the boundaries of torture that the human mind can suffer. 

The plot? You mean, the sorry excuse for one. Here it is, for what it's worth: An Indian has been lying imprisoned in a Pakistani jail for the past twenty-two years. Finally, a beautiful Pakistani lawyer tries to rescue him. After much cajoling, he deigns to tell her his story: 

Zaara Something Khan, a Pakistani politician's daughter played by the bubbly Preity Zinta, visits India to fulfill the last wish of her late grandmother. On the way, her bus has an accident and who should rescue her but Knight in Shining Armour Squadron Leader Veer Pratap Singh, essayed by the supposedly evergreen Shah Rukh Khan. He, instead of displaying Typical Indian Male Behaviour (TIMB) and molesting her, helps her fulfill grannyji's wish. After that, Zaara asks him what she can give him in return for his timely help. SRK, again eschewing all TIMB, asks for a day. 

Yes, you heard that right, folks. He asks for a day from her precious life so that he can show her his village in the heart of Punjab. On the way, of course, there has to be another song, as our couple prance among sunflower fields and Punjabi kudis

Finally, they reach Veeru darling's village. Here, Veeru's Bauji and Mati (I am as clueless as you are as to what that means), played by the genuinely evergreen Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini, welcome them. Needless to say, the whole village falls in love with Zaara, as, of course, does Veeru. Tauji, in fact, inspired by Zaara, starts the village's first girls' school. 

Sadly, they only have a day and Veer-Zaara (yes, now you know what the title means) have to return - Zaara to her palatial Pakistani home and Veer to his duties as Squadron Leader. Veer is about to express his love for her and hence stop her from boarding the train to Pakistan, when, lo and behold, who should arrive but Zaara's fiance. This character, who Zaara has conveniently forgotten to mention to Veer, is played by the amazingly versatile Manoj Bajpai. 

From there, the movie takes the predictable Bollywood movie route - sundered love; the girl has to marry the villain because of family pressure; the boy arrives to rescue her, summoned by the girl's best friend. 

And then comes the *hold your breath* twist: he DOES not carry her off home!! No, respecting the fact that her dear old Daddyji has had a heart attack, he proclaims that he will suffer heart break so that his love's father may live. 

But then, how does he land up in jail? The fiance has him arrested as a spy and tells him, in true Bollywood style, that he will have to sacrifice his life for his lover's. In short, if Zaara is to remain happy in her married life, Veer will have to languish in prison. His very name must be extinguished, so that Zaara doesn't think of him. 

What is the point? I don't know. Do the lovers finally unite? Does Veer get his freedom after all the tense courtroom exchanges? Well, this IS a Bollywood movie, after all. 

Do you need OTHER reasons not watch this movie? Here they are: 

The length: It is about three hours long. I was pretty peeved that I had lost three precious hours of my life to this movie. 

The songs: The characters break into songs every five minutes: they prancer around trees, they hug each other tight, they wave their arms, they emote, they lip-synch. The songs are the worst I've ever heard. I don't know whose they are, but they sound like Anu Malik's. And that's the worst insult I can think of right now. 

The cameos: Every few minutes, another "delightful cameo" steps on the screen. The list is long: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Manoj Bajpai, Anupam Kher, that dreadful Punjabi singer. How many can you tolerate? Trust me, there will be one more than that number. 

The languages: Half the time, they are speaking in Punjabi. And the rest of the time, they are speaking in Urdu. Being Mallu, I wouldn't have understood a damn thing if I hadn't had trusty Sahaj at my side to translate. Thank God I was with three Punjabis. Or not. They kept laughing at jokes that I didn't get. Though they DID say SRK's Punjabi sucked. 
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