Bachna Ae Haseeno
Directed by: Siddharth Anand
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Minisha Lamba and Deepika Padukone
Many an unkind (and lazy reviewer) was hoping the title of the film (meaning watch out pretty girls) would prove to be prophetic and keep audiences away from the film. Even in my preview, I pointed out that I hoped that wouldn’t be the case. After all, this film has attracted a lot of interest. First it has Ranbir Kapoor who seems to have divided audiences with his debut film Saawariya (people either like him or are avoiding the film because of him). Then there is Bipasha Basu, fresh from the success of Race, getting flak for being paired with a supposedly younger hero (god forbid a heroine be paired with a younger man though it is acceptable for 40 year old heroes to be teamed up with heroines half their age – no names mentioned!). Finally we have Deepika Padukone, who debuted alongside Shah Rukh Khan (ahem) in last year’s Om Shanti Om and Minisha Lamba, who has been around since 2005 but is still being labelled as a newcomer both attracting interest as well.
To be honest, i was worried that the film might crumble under the weight of expectations, especially with the added pressure of Yash Raj enduring a rough ride in the press and at the box office and Siddharth Anand (who made Salaam Namaste and Ta Ra Rum Pum) being expected to deliver the goods. Add to this the success of Singh is Kinng and a long Independence Day/Raksha Bandhan opening weekend and it is clear BAH was going to have to be a very strong film to beat the odds.
BAH is the story of Raj (Randhir Kapoor), a young bachelor whom we meet at three points in his life. Firstly when he is 18, then when he is 24, then when he is 30. Along the way, he meets Mahi (Minisha Lamba) a young Punjabi girl who dreams of filmi style romance, Radhika (Bipasha Basu), a dancer trying to make it in Bollywood and Gayatri (Deepika Padukone), a taxi driver by night, MBA student by day. Whilst Mahi and Radhika both fall in love with Raj, Raj breaks Mahi’s heart by lying about their time together in front of her and ditches Radhika at the altar. Raj then meets Gayatri and falls in love with her, only for Gayatri to reject him. Realising how it feels to have one’s heart broken, Raj sets out to find Mahi and Radhika to make amends for the damage caused…
BAH is a very modern story and the film takes a risk in alienating us from the protagonist in the first half of the film, so that in the second half not only does he have to win over Mahi and Radhika but also the audience. However, this risk is spoiled somewhat as Raj ditching Radhika and Mahi is shown in quite a humorous light, but the women are shown suffering the emotional consequences whilst Raj seems to escape scot free, only then at the interval, for Raj to have a total change of heart which feels quite odd. In addition, the female characters do lean towards stereotypes, being obsessed with love and marriage – even Radhika who is independent and lives in with Raj seems to aspire towards marriage which feels a tad one dimensional, the idea of love equating to marriage seems difficult to shake off for a film which projects quite a forward thinking outlook.
However, the film is refreshing in showing characters who are determined to achieve success on their own terms and the contrast between Radhika, Gayatri and Mahi is shown nicely – whilst the former two show exterior strength, Mahi’s strength is shown as internalised. It is also nice to see the characters actually kissing and in the case of Radhika, even sleeping together. This film is not a teeny bopper film but a film about actual adult relationships, though the absence of any authority figure creates a utopian set up (but that’s Bollywood for you!). The cinematography is beautiful, showing off Italy, Australia, Switzerland and Amristsar nicely and the Yash Raj colour and gloss polish is very much in effect in every scene, with wonderful (and quite crazy it has to be said) wardrobe get ups but also some amazing costumes (Bips, Deepika and Minisha all look stunning in the second half it has to be said). The songs are also nicely paced in the film, moving the story forward and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t keen on the title track remix at first but after seeing it on screen, it is definitely one of my fave tracks at the moment.
In terms of performances, Siddharth Anand coaxes a good performance out of Ranbir, reigning in that high energy trying too hard quality he exhibited in Saawariya. The first half is a weaker performance but it is only in the second half as a maturer self that Ranbir becomes one with the character and gives a good performance. Minisha is also impressive, though her get up in the first half seems a little misjudged but her performance is good, she has been compared to Preity Zinta which is not an unfair comparison and it will be interesting to see how she fares as her career goes on and on but its safe to say BAH has won her quite a few fans. Deepika hovers between being a bit wooden to relaxing into the role. It doesn’t help that her character is a bit sketchy but again, in a party scene, Deepika appears forced and it is when she relaxes she gives a good performance. Kunal Kapoor is a pleasant surprise in his cameo and though unintentionally made me laugh with his accented Punjabi, stole many of the scenes he shares with Ranbir.
For me, the best performance was Bipasha Basu’s. Her character clearly had the author backed role and Anand gets a good performance out of her, making her do her wind in the hair catwalk thing but also making her act too. Contrast Bipasha’s party scene with Deepika’s and you’ll see the difference (no offence to Deepika but Basu seems more natural in that sequence). Basu seems at ease with the role and it helps that she looks absolutely stunning, even sans make up. The second half shows how she has matured and one hopes she will experiment with different roles as she continues to do well.
So would I recommend BAH? Yes, I would, especially to those who are young at heart or those who simply enjoy Bollywood cinema. This film is not for everyone and despite the mature content and modern outlook of the film, some may find that puts them off whilst for others, it is what makes the film. Still, it deserves to do well as it does realise its unusual premise and is perfect summer viewing. So, instead of avoiding the film, ignore those negative reviews and give this film a watch – it may just surprise you how much you will like it.