Wednesday, February 4, 2009

U Me Aur Hum


If you're wondering why U Me Aur Hum, starring the ultra talented Ajay Devgan and his seldom-seen-nowadays-but-still-loved wife Kajol was only a moderate success, I've got the answer: It was really only a moderately good movie.

(***Warning****There aren't any real spoilers to U Me Aur Hum here, as anything I've discussed in the next paragraph can be told on the DVD jacket, but there's a slight spoiler to the Hollywood film The Notebook****).



U Me Aur Hum, which marks Devgan's first attempt at directing, has been criticized for being another example of Bollywood plagiarism, in this case a copycat of the Hollywood blockbuster The Notebook. I'm not sure that's fair. Yes, in The Notebook the heroine suffers from dementia, and in this film, Kajol ends up with Alzheimer's, but the issue is dealt with very differently. The Notebook centers around the love story of the two main characters in a flashback of their younger years--when both were healthy. The only time we hear about the dementia is in intervals throughout the narration, in "real time". U Me Aur Hum, though narrated in the same format, turns into a film about how the couple, now married, faces the disease.

It starts out as your average "boy-meets-girl" love story. Ajay (Ajay Devgan) is a single psychiatrist vacationing on a cruise with two couples, which we quickly learn are supposed to be his best buds. Piya (Kajol) is a cocktail waitress at a nightclub on the ship. Naturally, when Ajay lays eyes on Piya he falls in love with her. He spends the remainder of his time on the cruise attempting to win her heart.

I had problems with the film right off the bat. For one, the side stories involving Ajay's annoying friends were obviously supposed to add comic relief, but I ended up with a headache instead (I will note that by the end of the film I realized why they were there and considered them a positive addition to the second half of the story). It seemed as if Ajay was trying to duplicate the corny humor found in a typical Karan Johar love story, but it just didn't work. In fact, he made Kjo look like a comedic genius. Yikes!




Secondly, the first song, "Dil Dhaka Hai", featuring a drunken Ajay, was completely unattractive and unappealing. Not to mention a certain layer of sleaze that could be felt every time one of the scary looking extras did a pole dance. See for yourself...




Also, the path Ajay took to win Piya's heart was filled with deception. One day, upon sneaking into her cabin, Ajay snoops through Piya's "Book of Possibilities"... a diary of some sorts which just happens to be lying around practically on display and is clearly labeled as such. The book is a collection of all of Piya's hopes, dreams, and best loved things: Liquor chocolates, salsa dancing, Labradors. Ajay, of course, takes advantage of this newfound knowledge and uses it to become the man of her dreams. Inevitably, he repents, but its not a very favorable first impression to make.



Throughout the film, Devgan seems to get creative with his directional moves, experimenting with different shots and angles. I can appreciate that. But some of the stuff just comes across as odd. For example, the kid on the cruise ship that followed Ajay around like a little stalker was weird enough--we didn't need the darkened split screen to add to his creepiness:

And as Ajay flips through Piya's diary, he has some strange ways of reflecting on what he's read:




My final nitpick about the first half of the film is that you can't learn salsa overnight. Obviously. Unless you're a natural, which Ajay is clearly not. But I could have accepted that if we'd have gotten some snazzy salsa moves from Ajay and Piya in the catchy "Jee Le" (my favorite song of the film). Instead, the camera seemed to be editing Kajol and Ajay to make them look like they knew what they were doing. I don't mean to criticize--I have two left feet myself--but I honestly think Ajay and Kajol were capable of more! Especially Kajol--C'mon, girl, I've seen you work it out in Fanaa!

Somehow, the film got sooo much better after they got off that stupid cruise ship (pretty as it was). Once Ajay and Piya got married, and as Piya's mental health deteriorated, U Me Aur Hum proved it was more than just a mediocre rom-com. Though some things were predictable, the movie did a decent job of showing the different aspects of Ajay and Piya's lives that were affected by the illness.



Ajay's devotion to Piya was beautiful--and heartbreaking. Now here was the talented lass that won me over in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and blew me away in Omkara(review forthcoming). I literally felt his love for his wife, particularly in the emotional final scenes. I actually had to remind myself that the leads were married in real life and perhaps what I was seeing was real love, but I quickly dismissed that thought. Yes, they were most likely really in love, but their performances weren't in any way reliant on that. They were completely and totally in character, and if the film worked it was because of them alone.

Kajol, looking more beautiful than ever, lit up the screen in her happier moments as Piya. In the heavier scenes, she did seem to hold back a tad bit, but still managed to pull it off. Heck, who cares about the film: I was just happy to see her onscreen again! And the part where Piya dances for her husband was toooo adorable...When I get married, that's how I want to be--Dancing to a Kajol song for my hubby!




I'm not going to lie to you: U Me Aur Hum had me in tears by the end. While that's not a complete miracle, a film has to touch me in some way for me to react. And U Me Aur Hum did--The problems with the film diminished by its end, and the solid performances from Ajay and Kajol made it worthwhile. Still, for me, its one of those movies that you sort of enjoy while you're watching but becomes forgettable a couple of weeks later.

There are two things I should say before I close this review, because they may be responsible for my crankiness with this one: First, The Notebook happens to be one of my favorite films of all times (If you haven't seen it--Don't bother with U Me Aur Hum--go rent that one instead!), so I'm a little biased, even though I maintain my stance that the two don't really deserve to be compared. Secondly, I popped this in after the whole Arth mishap, so I was probably a little bitter about that, too. Because of those two points, I think its safe to say you have a pretty good chance of enjoying this film more than I did!

One final, disturbing thought: Is this all we get of Kajol until My Name is Khan?

17 comments:

BB February 4, 2009 at 9:17 PM  

I actually hated The Notebook; I'm usually a wuss at movies, but that movie just annoyed me and I didn't shed a tear! So something tells me I would like UMAH at all. =X

theBollywoodFan February 4, 2009 at 10:06 PM  

Hey there Nida! Agree on the first half of the film. I too found the attempts at comedy not only ineffective, but almost annoying. Once the movie got serious (in its fun too, e.g. the Kajol dance sequence), it was really quite good.

As for Kajol...I'm not sure when My Name is Khan releases, but she does have a cameo in 3 Idiots, which will likely release in December. She was to play the lead role opposite Aamir (boo, they were great in Fanaa!) in the film, a role Kareena will now play.

Cheers!

PS: Ref: our prior discussion on the subject, I *still* haven't seen The Notebook, by the way. And really should, I know, I know :)

bollyviewer February 4, 2009 at 11:15 PM  

I made a valiant effort to watch The Notebook but gave up less than halfway through. The romance just didnt strike my romantic bone and it didnt help that James Garner's younger self was played by a very boring actor (was it Ryan Gosling?) who couldnt even begin to approximate young Garner's awesomeness.

Anyhow... so when I found that U Me Aur Hum was inspired by/remade from The Notebook, I ran a mile! :-) Sounds like I made a very good choice.

Darshit February 4, 2009 at 11:31 PM  

First thing I liked about this movie, was its look. If any movie has good 'looks', it wins my 2 stars !! UMAH has really gr8 look, white color with hint of Lilac. Beautiful looking first half and dark look of second half. Kajol looked stunning throughout the film.

I loved moments, between Ajay & Kajol, when they fall in love. The dialogues. U know something.... Nida, you are right about salsa thing, but for a hindi movie, it is forgivable, what say!!? And I too agree with you about weird first half [thanks to friends of Ajay] and bad song.

I loved scene of Chalte Chalte.... And one with Ajay, breaking down in front of his friends. And the lovely song 'U Me Aur Hum'..

Joss,  February 5, 2009 at 3:06 AM  

Another great write-up, Nida. Good enough to be a substitute for the film itself. But I'll put it on the list behind Ajay Devgan's better films. By the way, who is that woman on your latest banner at the top of the page? I feel it should be immediately obvious to me, but it's not. My only guess is Sushmita Sen. Please tell.

Nida February 6, 2009 at 3:03 PM  

BB--Well UMAH is quite different from The Notebook, esp when you get to the second half...so there is a chance you'd like it...Besides, you're a Kajol fan, right? For me, I'd watch Kajol in anything so I'm still glad I saw this one despite my quibbles.

Bollywood Fan-Hey!Man, that's too bad about the role in 3 Idiots--I'm stoked about the cameo, but another film with Kajol opposite Aamir? That would have been so awesome! Maybe someday? :)
And you still have not seen The Notebook? C'mon Bollywood Fan--you're slacking! jk But it would be great to hear your opinion on it-if you ever do get to see it, do let me know what you think!

Bollyviewer--You most likely made the right decision, although like I was telling BB, this one is really very different. Though I loved Ryan Gosling in The Notebook, I can see how you wouldn't like the film if the romance and its hero didn't hit you the right way! What did you think of Rachel McAdams?

Darshit-Lol--Oops, I'm sorry, I guess I didn't mean to sound harsh about the salsa dancing! :) But I guess I just expected more from them since I've seen Kajol dance really well. And they could have hired practically any salsa instructor to work with them, so I just felt it could have been better? We have salsa lessons at my job and I've seen people who can't dance salsa at all do more than they did. So just think maybe they could have worked on this more? The end result of some extra time would have been really fantastic! Also, you're right about the look of the film. Very beautiful--I'm seriously considering all white deco with traces of color for my own house (once I graduate).
What scene was from Chalte Chalte? I don't recall.

Joss-Hello there and welcome back! Hope all is well with you--I've missed your comments! Thank you-You'll have to let me know what you think if you do end up watching this one! The woman on my banner is none other than the lovely Sonam Kapoor...Its from a wallpaper from the upcoming "Delhi 6" where she stars opposite Abhishek Bachchan! Can't wait for that one...:)

ajnabi February 6, 2009 at 7:46 PM  

I have two relatives who suffered from Alzheimer's so I usually can't make myself sit through any sort of film about the disease. Still, OMG, Kajol has never looked better. I'm bummed that this was her "one film a year" but, c'mon, how're you gonna turn down your hunky husband? ;-)

Darshit February 7, 2009 at 12:10 AM  

That's okay. I m cool with salsa thing. Its very tough form of dance, and most beautiful too. Yes, it could have been better

'Chalte Chalte' scene was, the songs (antakshari) sung by all characters after party at Ajay's home. Remember?? One by one they sing same song 'Chalte chalte'.

Sanket Vyas February 8, 2009 at 8:47 AM  

I enjoyed the film as a fan of both of the stars and because I appreciate when an actor takes on the Herculian task of directing himself.

As a psychiatrist I had to check myself when I wanted to yell at the screen 'buy she's too young to get Alzheimers!' (at least statistically). Cute movie all in all but they have both been in better. I loved Omkara (2006) and am looking forward to your review of it!

Nida February 8, 2009 at 3:48 PM  

Ajnabi--I can understand how that would be difficult for you. I would skip this one then...though I'm sure you already decided to do that! Ajay Devgan has definitely grown on me...I wouldn't have said no, either!

Darshit--I do remember now! In fact, that screenshot I've taken with Kajol and Ajay is from that very scene. Yes, it is fantastic and touching as well! I remember being moved by it all over again when taking the screenshot.

Sanket--That's a very good point about the dual task of acting/directing. And I had a feeling the Alzheimer's thing was a stretch, but now that I've got your professional opinion it really seems odd that he would have chosen that disease. There are many other things he could have explored, for example, schizophrenia. I loved "Omkara" too and can't wait to review it!I'll probably do that one after "Jaane Tu" and "Dostana", which I've already begun writing.

Sonam February 9, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

U Me aur Hum is a wonderful film and worth watching. Kajol is again at her best as a young girl suffering from Alzheimer's.


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Anonymous,  February 18, 2009 at 1:17 PM  

OMG I watched this movie in theatres the day it release and I ended up crying non stop. Especially when the title song arrived. Wow, what lyrics!

CHEEKU April 9, 2009 at 7:28 PM  

Watch the Koream Movie "Moments to Remember". It is the original movie from which this movie was made. I wonder why Hollywood ends up getting credit all the time.

Henrik,  August 5, 2009 at 3:51 PM  

"When I get married, that's how I want to be--Dancing to a Kajol song for my hubby!"

I envy him already.

Anonymous,  August 5, 2009 at 3:52 PM  

Like you, i am a Kajol admirer. I think in the first half of the film she looks completely paralyzed. As if playing opposite your hubby-director-producer crashes all your ways of expression?

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