Not every film from Bollywood is a masterpiece; not all flicks from India are guaranteed to be hits. Despite this, former VJ and model/actress Mawra Hocane gets one of the meatiest roles ever written for a Pakistani in Bollywood (the first since Zeba Bakhtiar’s Henna 25 years ago), and, even though the story is flawed and heavily inspired by A Walk to Remember, delivers a powerful performance.
The film revolves around two neighbours – the woman is a 'nerd' working in a library and the man an ex-convict studying to be a lawyer.
These two mismatched individuals cross each other’s path and in the first half, Inder (Harshvardhan Rane) falls for Saru (Mawra Hocane). After a few meant-to-be-tragic-but-are-comic incidents, her parents disown her and she moves out of her house only to be taken in by Inder. He helps her get a makeover and, in true Bollywood fashion, she becomes the hottest gal in town.
Saru's crush, her colleague (Anurag Sinha), finally wakes up to her existence post-transformation and sends her a proposal, which she accepts. Saru continue to be ‘just friends’ with the unlucky Inder, who seems happy for her and even chaperones her to dates and shopping sprees.
However, fate is bent on uniting the film's hero and heroine: her suitor eventually backs out of their relationship and Saru falls in love with Inder. The second half of the film shows the tumultuous evolution of their relationship from friends to lovers.
Anybody who has seen A Walk To Remember will be familiar with this story, and some might say a predictable yet tried-and-test plot will yield positive results. However, to make a film with two newcomers in the lead (one of them a Pakistani) and with no big names in the cast is a risk and takes a big heart. Lucky for us, directors Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru took the plunge.
Even before the film was realised Mawra was being criticised for 'crying too much,' something that was seen as an unfortunate hangover from her TV drama persona. I'm here to tell you it's true: she does cry a lot in the film. However, being miserable appears to be the requirement of the role so I don't fault her for it.
We can only criticise Mawra for being typecast as a tragic heroine when we stop producing sobfests in our own industry.
In fact, I think she was the best choice for the role of a damsel-in-distress who discovers confidence when she finds love. She has a lovely presence on screen and sometimes steals the show from her more seasoned co-stars like guest star Vijay Raaz.
She particularly shines in the more tragic moments of the film, such as when she learns that her father has disowned her. None of those sobbing scenes are over-the-top, and she has her countless sniff-sniff performances in Pakistan to thank for that.
She even dances well; the song Khench Meri Photo showcases her funny, goofy side and allows her to demonstrate that she does have range.
Mawra and Harsh share an excellent chemistry and look good together, which may make the viewer ignore the loopholes in their story. The two share a kiss in the film - the subject of some scandal - but it was necessitated by the script and not just present for the masala.
Tamil actor Harshvardhan Rane has certainly put in countless hours at the gym, but perhaps acting classes would have been a better investment. He remains in his comfort zone throughout the film, the result being that his character doesn't have depth. He reminds me of John Abraham and might do well as an action hero if he chooses his films wisely.
The two share a kiss in the film - the subject of some scandal - but it was necessitated by the script and not just present for the masala.
The vastly talented Anurag Sinha (who made his debut as a terrorist in Subhash Ghai’s Black & White) is wasted in the role of Abhimanyu and while his performance is competent, he doesn’t fit the role. Murli Sharma as the police officer provides comic relief whereas the father Manish Choudhari looks angry all the time for no reason.
This flick has no relation to the previously released Sanam Teri Kasam where Kamal Haasan and Reena Roy danced on RD Burman’s award-winning tunes, so I'm not sure why the title wasn't changed, it probably should have been.
One of my criticisms has to do with the film's length, it would have been more successful with skilled editing in the latter half. A general audience now only has stamina for a 2-hour movie, tops.
Sanam Teri Kasam is like many other ronay dhonay ki movies but in Pakistan, that’s the trend. We had Bin Roye last year, didn’t we? Just like that film, here we have our very own Mawra doing more or less the same stuff (more crying, less dancing) so why should we complain? I think we can only criticise Mawra for being typecast as a tragic heroine when we stop producing sobfests in our own industry.
Anyway, she needn't worry. Her star power will draw crowds towards the cinema and one hopes that the arrival of Katrina Kaif’s Fitoor (on 12th February) doesn’t destroy Sanam Teri Kasam at the box office.