Friday, July 11, 2008

Dil To Pagal Hai

Yikes. Could Shahrukh Khan be losing his effect on me?

Before we jump to conclusions here, let me just present a couple of possible reasons as to why King Khan failed to capture my heart in Dil To Pagal Hai the same way he did in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Veer Zaara, and Kal Ho Naa Ho.

First of all, I have a hard time digesting Shahrukh Khan's Bollywood version of the mullet.

It bothered me in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and it bothers me here. I guess it just makes him look too much like a punk kid for me to swoon over.

Secondly, and this is the scarier part, it might be that SRK's moves (not movies, moves) are getting a little played out for me. I've seen a chunk of his films and fallen in love with his charisma, but as I've tried to branch out and watch other things while creating this blog (such as the Raj Kapoor classics, the Deepa Mehta movies, the epic world of Ashutosh Gowarikar), I've realized that Bollywood has much more to offer than the popular SRK-brand film. And after you watch a few SRK movies you start to realize he has some of the same trademark neck carresses and such. Don't get me wrong, I still love Shahrukh, whether he's lip syncing on hilltops or starring in a Johar flick, but I just think the "wow" factor may have came down a few notches for me.

Thirdly, and I think this was a biggie, I found the romance itself didn't resonate with me the way it should have. Yes, it was very nice and sweet and the idea of having a soulmate out there who you are just "meant to be with" is always endearing in my book...but...I kept expecting more of the story between the two leads. I had a hard time figuring out just why I was supposed to want Shahrukh's Rahul to end up with Madhuri's Pooja...other than the sheer fact that it was THE Shahrukh Khan and THE Madhuri Dixit. As a matter of fact, I couldn't even find one good reason why I wouldn't want Rahul with spunky Nisha(Karisma Kapoor) or Pooja with the adorable Ajay (Akshay Kumar) instead.

But why, oh, why am I nitpicking this film? It really was worth watching, and I hope my above comments didn't deter you completely if you haven't seen it. Dil To Pagal Hai had much more to offer than Shahrukh Khan's dreaminess (or lack thereof), and therefore still held water for me as a very lovely romantic comedy.

For one, there were no comedic sideshows from Rajpal Yadav or Johnny Lever (thank you, Yash Chopra). The story flowed as gracefully as Madhuri danced. And there was never a moment in the film where I felt ashamed for watching due to extreme cheesiness (and I say that with a lot of love, Bollywood).

This is my third Madhuri movie, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why she has made such a name for herself in this industry. The woman is the entire package--beautiful, graceful, poised, and an unparalleled dancer. What was truly amazing was that even with all this perfection, Madhuri's Pooja never made me sick to my stomach as most goody-two-shoes characters do (see most of Jennifer Lopez's romantic comedy roles). With Madhuri, it came across as sincerely genuine.

Karisma Kapoor never really struck me in her photographs, but I now realize she is a natural beauty and has a dynamic screen presence. Akshay Kumar scored more points with me here than in Welcome and Heyy Baby combined. And its always refreshing to see Farida Jalal in a motherly role, no matter whose mother she is playing (She was technically Pooja's aunt, but you know what I mean).

There were two other huge elements in Dil To Pagal Hai--the music and the dancing. Both were equally fantastic.

I love dance films like Hollywood's Save the Last Dance, Dirty Dancing and Dance With Me. So I was really looking forward to seeing one from Bollywood. Dil To Pagal Hai did not disappoint, although some of the dance moves (particularly from Karisma Kapoor) felt a little dated. But this was the 90s, and it was more of a contemporary film in its time, so I guess it was fitting. And there were lots of timeless dance scenes from Madhuri to make up for it. Add to that a "dance-off" between Mads and Karisma...Need I say more?

Speaking of timeless, the music of the film was just as great as the dancing that went with it. I actually think I loved every one of the songs in this movie.

Which brings me back to my original question. If I loved so many things about this film, could the only problem with it losing my affinity for Shahrukh Khan?

Well, maybe a little. Most great things in life are bound to lose some sparkle over time, I suppose. But all I have to do is pop in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and I'm sure he'll be able to pull me closer again. And...

Text © Nida Nazir Bitten BY Bollywood


ajnabi July 11, 2008 at 10:04 PM  

I dunno, I think it might just be that this film isn't all that great. I mean, it's decent and has good production values, etc., but I just didn't care all that much for any character but Karisma's (just watched this myself, but will put off reviewing it). I agree with you that her onscreen presence is really magnetic. She exuded more, well, charisma in the five seconds she was in Deewangi Deewangi than some of the other actors did in three times as much screentime.

Magpie Ima July 12, 2008 at 3:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Magpie Ima July 12, 2008 at 3:27 PM  

Oops--typing too quickly!

I'm with you on this one. I watched this movie fairly recently and all I really remember was SRK's explosive stage entrance and his clown car. Otherwise it made virtually no impression on me.

Nida July 13, 2008 at 5:10 PM  

Ajnabi and Magpie Ima,

You know, I kept feeling guilty (for lack of a better word) for not loving this film--because it had all the ingredients of a film I would love. But you two reconfirmed my thoughts on this one that something was missing...

You can't just assume that people will want the two leads together because they are big name leads. Even Karan Johar took the time to develop a backdrop for Shahrukh and Kajol's pairing in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai that made you root for the couple to end up together. He didn't just ride on the coattails of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge's success.

I'm not sure if SRK/Madhuri did any films together proir to this one, so I really don't know what Chopra was thinking. But I think the movie could have been more memorable if there had been more time in creating a love story with some meat in it.

Nida July 13, 2008 at 5:17 PM  

Oh yeah, Ajnabi, I forgot to tell you...

I didn't mention this in the post, but the one time Shahrukh gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling in this film was the part where he was taking care of a drunken Nisha(Karisma Kapoor) and she told him that she loved him. The look he gave her was very caring and he lovingly and respectfully tucked her into bed in response(If I remember correctly).

Like I said, the movie didn't give me any reason to want SRK with Madhuri's character instead of Karisma's character. In fact, I would have preferred him with Nisha.

bollywoodfoodclub July 13, 2008 at 7:35 PM  

Nice Nida! I understand what you mean about this. The 3 scenes I remember SRK from in this are

1. the HOT "Closer, closer still, closer," one which I'm so glad you captured.

2. comforting the drunk Karisma/Nisha as you mentioned.

3. comforting her on the beach where he screams up at God and says it's his fault "for making A love B, when B is in love with C,"
or however it goes.

SRK was easy to NOT like because he played sort of a freak with all that "Maya!" stuff. I also remember liking Akshay's glasses. Well not really liking them, but finding them funny.

All the best,

Filmi Geek July 14, 2008 at 7:30 AM  

Nida, you may be burning out on Shah Rukh Khan a bit, or you may just be running up against the fact that *Dil to pagal hai* is a pretty lackluster film.

I completely agree that it failed to motivate the main love story with any compelling reason other than "they are the stars so they should get together." This is one of the ways in which I think this film had more potential than it took advantage of.

You might just need a break from Shah Rukh Khan, or to rewatch something wonderful that you love him in. Either way, it's a great thing that you are aware that Hindi film does not start and end with him. There's so much out there to see and learn - even if you don't watch any of his films for six months you'll still have a wonderful, wonderful time.

Nida July 14, 2008 at 9:00 PM  


I forgot about the "for making A love B, when B is in love with C" bit. I agree that was one of the movie's better points!

And you're right about the "Maya" Stuff being annoying. I also didn't think it was very creative--a play called simply "Maya"...and every time SRK's character brought it up it was supposed to generate all this hype. Please.

Nida July 14, 2008 at 9:09 PM  


"a lackluster film"---I think you've pretty much summed it up!

I think the fact that the movie had so much potential and failed to use it--as you said-- is what frustrated me the most. Because it could have been a really cute rom-com, and those are hard to come by!

I'm definitely trying to branch beyond the Shahrukh-camp :) ...I still think he's great, but so are a lot of other actors in Bollywood--all in very different ways! That's why I'm so glad I found the world of Bolly-blogging...I've learned so much and gotten so many great recos(from sites like yours)that I feel like I'd be missing out on so much had I stayed in my "comfort zone" with Shahrukh and friends.

Joss,  July 15, 2008 at 2:49 AM  


What a great post and great comments. I know exactly how you feel, Nida. In fact I experience this kind of disappointment with almost every film Shah Rukh made prior to Dil Se. I've even made it a bit of a rule to watch nothing of his pre-1997. The teen idol he was in the 90s is nothing like the god we women adore in this century! Every time I have an embarrassing moment with the early SRK I remind myself that this is the same man who went on to make Chak de, for example. I love just about all his work from the last ten years, but like you I am just running out of new material to watch. I know I can always go back and watch Main Hoon Na and love every second of both the film and SRK's performance. But on other nights of the week I am now exploring other acting talent (like the adorable Akshay Khanna) and other directorial talent (yes, like Ashutosh Gowriker.) So it's great that I have all of you to point me in new and unexplored directions. Your blogs are all really fantastic. You're all such discerning critics, and such brilliant writers. Keep writing, please!

Nida July 16, 2008 at 12:23 PM  


Thank you for the truly kind words of encouragement! :)

And I like Akshaye Khanna, too...I should be watching more of his films, because he is adorable and really, really funny!

I had a lot of those moments you've described with SRK in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge where I had to remind myself it was SRK the superstar. They just seem so different to me. Even the look is very distinct. Its like we have the mullet thing going on until 1997, then the really cute fresh faced look that you see on billboards and such, then the new look with a six pack and a bigger nose.:)

Nida July 16, 2008 at 12:29 PM  

Ok, I'm feeling bad already about the nose comment! Geez, I'm such a softie sometimes...

I do love Shahrukh, and its no secret that I find him attractive(though not conventionally so), but his nose does look a little bigger lately, doesn't it? lol
I think he lost some weight, or perhaps the haircut...I dunno, something is different! He's still hot, but I'm just saying! :$

Ok, I feel a little bit better now!

Joss,  July 18, 2008 at 4:25 AM  

No, you're right, what's with the nose? Can it actually be getting bigger? Or is just the haircut? Just shows what a difference a style can make. Maybe my hairdresser could change my looks that much ... but I wouldn't a bigger nose. On Shah Rukh it just looks phallic (IMO!) but that look wouldn't suit me. I think he has lost weight all over, but especially from his face and that is why his nose looks bigger in proportion. Anyway, he looks hotter than ever, in my opinion.

Right, that's enough about the nose! Back to reality.

What's the best thing you've seen Akshay Khanna in? I loved him in Dil Chahta Hai and Salaam e Ishq. In fact, I think I shall put the latter on my wish list. I need to own it.

Nida July 24, 2008 at 5:20 PM  


I agree, its definitely the hair and weight loss that changed the balance of SRK's face--but, on him, he pulls it off!

Akshaye was my favorite character in both Salaam-E-Ishq and Dil Chata Hai. He is an amazing actor but also has great comedic timing. I'm going to make a point to watch more of his films, too--starting with Mere Baap Pehle Aap!

Anonymous,  July 24, 2008 at 10:31 PM  

Watch Akshay Khanna in "Aaja Naachley" - he has a small role but leaves a big impact. You feel like you are waiting for him to reappear as the film progresses

Nida July 29, 2008 at 9:39 PM  


Funnily enough, I have "Aaja Nachle", just haven't gotten to watch it yet! Thank you for the reco, though...that makes me want to watch that one next...and "Main Hoon Na", as everyone keeps telling me to do!

Peevesie,  February 13, 2011 at 7:55 AM  

This is one of my favorite movies, among the ones I watch over and over againb. But then, I literally grew up watching shahrukh in these movies(I was 2 when DDLJ released and I am still in love with it).

I think the point here in contrast to kuch kuch hota hai, is that not always will you fall for you best friend(How ironic is that both movies were acted in by the same man?) Its the not taking time to fall in love that is the base of this movie.

My favorite scene is the one in Nisha's bedreoom before she leaves for foreign. when she says that we both know whats going on and can't avoid it. so let me go. and he understands like a good friend

However mom and I always have one question. What the hell is a puranmashi wala Valentine's day?

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bharathi January 16, 2013 at 11:06 PM  


This movie was a drag for me too...The only time it came to life was during the song sequences. So dont worry - its not about SRK, you can never get bored of him, trust me:)), its just the whole script seemed contrived and artificial. To SRK's credit he at least salvaged the dumb script with his charm. Karisma and King Khan were only redeeming factors in the movie. Madhuri's character did not work for me.
btw I am going through your blog now and I love your reviews. Just read you review on Kal Ho Na Ho and it was 'Wow!!'
btw you must must see Chak De India!

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