I am part of the generation that grew up on pure Hindi cinema – none of this new-age ‘finding yourself’ crap. It is the generation that venerates every immortal dialogue from Andaz Apna Apna. ‘Ai la, Juhi Chawla!’ ‘Chai baatne se pyaar badhta hai’. ‘Sawal ek, jawab do’. ‘Teja mai hun, mark idhar hai!’. ‘Mai hun Crime-master Gogo!’: I could go on and on and on about this one movie. We watched SRK ham it up with everything being yelled with a bloody mouth or a stammer, movies in the form of wedding videos, Govinda as the comedy king (which he will always remain), Sunny Deol as the angriest of the angry that can be (in Santoshi’s movies most of all), Salman barely having half the body he has today and roughly the same amount of acting talent, Sridevi and Madhuri as smart yet sassy heroines with a naive Karisma (who didn’t know how to put on make-up) on the side, Jatin-Lalit and Nadeem-Shravan music. It currently seems as though Bollywood is hearkening back to the heyday of the 80s and 90s. Whether it be the insane action that is ‘Wanted‘, the ridiculous family values espoused by WYR, Govinda-style travesties of ‘Do Knot Disturb’ or even the awesome inanity of a comedy that is Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani… it could even be that India itself is going through some kind of renaissance. Especially given the current make-up and performance of the Indian cricket team – again very 90s-ish.
Here we are. 2009. Santoshi has finally made the spiritual successor to AAA: ‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani’. Which tips a hat to every single loser-hero-romantic comedy to come out in the last 20 years. ‘Ek din mera bhi naam paper mei aayega’ (Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa). ‘Ye mera nikamma beta.. kya..’ (AAA). Tony Breganza (Baaton Baaton Mein). Jenny (Amar Akbar Anthony, the original AAA). The happy go lucky loser and his gang of awesome friends (Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander). A small town that joins in for music and dance (Way too many to name). Hell, they have Raaburt from AAA and ‘Yello yello’ playing at one point in the movie! Could Santoshi make it any more clearer? This is AAA for all those kids who know not the true genius of AAA.
APKGK mostly works. Santoshi has all the inane bits nicely worked out, even if they fall short in a couple of places. But he manages to bring it back on track every time and deliver another insane set piece to make up for it. To me, the stand-out scene was the father-meeting-son in climax (as every good Hindi movie should conclude) and mouthing utterly senti dialogues: ‘Agar tum yeh sab ek ladki ke liye… toh phir mei bhi tum par..etc etc‘ – only to be asked to repeat them because..wait for it.. the son thinks they are awesome ‘dialogues’. And the dad obliges! It was something that would have fit perfectly in the AAA universe.
Ranbir Kapoor ensures scintillating moments galore and proves that ‘Wake Up Sid!’ was no flash in the pan – this kid has talent, knows how to use it, and channels energy and ability all the way back to his grandfather. Kareena may have come into the industry sooner than him, but she could take major points from this kid. Katrina is.. well.. Katrina. Used perfectly for once. She illuminates the screen, is not made to talk too much, and generally manages to distract from any shortcomings in the scenes she is in. For e.g. a scene in which Ranbir tries his best to be emotional about how much he loves Katrina but can’t admit it (or something).. but I wasn’t paying attention to whether he was convincing or not. Sheer eye candy in the form of Katrina occupies half the screen – ’nuff said 😛 The supporting cast is spot on – mom/dad/idiotic friends/even more idiotic villain.. etc etc. There are faults you can find – as always – but at the end of the day, you’re enjoying events more than griping about them. And I didn’t feel I must murder the director (which last happened for Blue – which is not reviewable. Or watchable).
Need I really say more? Go. Enjoy. Live a little of that adolescence that remains golden tinted and unforgettable.