Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya – Or the one where Salman is shirtless with a guitar

pyaar-kiya-toI watched Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (If you loved someone, don’t be afraid) written and directed by Sohail Khan (brother of Salman Khan) over the last two days.  I bought it super cheap in one of my DVD orders from India and it had no subs, but Youtube to the rescue.
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Going in, I knew nothing about the film other than it was a love story with Kajol and Salman Khan coming out the same year as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.  I didn’t know that Dharmendra has a key role as Kajol’s uncle.  Kajol is an orphan raised by her brother Vishal (Arbaaz Khan) and her uncle.  Vishal is extremely overprotective of her, driving away suitors by beating them up.  Kajol finally convinces her brother to let her attend college, and that’s where she meets Salman Khan, a rather goof off student.  Salman starts the movie shirtless!  This is his intro scene for the movie — the famous “O O Jaane Jaana” song.
pyaar-kiya-to-darna-kya-1998-3Wastrel Salman first wins over Kajol, and then has to win over her family, especially her skeptical brother Vishal.  Salman is particularly ridiculous in many scenes playing his role for broad comedy, and I was wondering if he let the Vishal brother of Kajol character upstage him so much because it was his actual brother. I literally had no idea Arbaaz Khan was Salman Khan’s brother AND that he was the producer of Dabangg.  He is such a looker in Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya!  I think this is one of his first movies, and he did a great job.
 It was interesting that Arbaaz got a whole seduction song with the Ujala character.  (Kajol’s friend Ujala is the one doing the seducing.)  He’s a secondary character that in most movies would not get his own song.  Especially these days Salman is so, well, SALMAN that he overshadows everyone else.  In this earlier movie, he wasn’t quite so much larger than life, if you get what I mean.
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I don’t know that Kajol and Salman had any smolder whatsoever, but they were sweet and cute together.  The first half didn’t grab me, but the second half songs are great, and the finale scene with Dharmendra, Salman and Arbaaz fighting together to rescue Kajol is really something to see.
One other minor note.  The director made Kajol dance in what looked to be the most awkward type sandals for dancing, unless they had a strap on the back I couldn’t see.  Like slip on wedges or something.
Lots of shirtless or nearly so Salman and great songs so worth the watch!
I also don’t remember seeing another movie yet in my watching history, at least, where Dharmendra is playing this uncle fatherly type of role.  That was interesting, too.
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Socha Na Tha – An Absolutely Delightful Romance – I wish Imtiaz Ali Would Make Another Romance Like This His First

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Dharmendra chose well for his nephew Abhay Deol’s debut film, Socha Na Tha [I Never Imagined].  He picked the talented director Imtiaz Ali who gave the falling-in-love-with-the girl-your-parents-picked-for-you Indian romance a fresh modern feel.  This was Imtiaz Ali’s first film,  after directing in television.  Socha Na Tha was not a commercial success, but it gained critical praise at the time, and he followed it with Jab We Met, one of the all time favorite Hindi romance films.

Abhay plays Viren, a young man who has returned to India from University in the US, but has not started work yet.  His family despairs of him growing up, and his father puts his foot down.  He’s 24, and it’s time he was married.  He agrees to meet a girl his family chooses, but he has a secret romance with a Christian girl, Karen.  He’s on the verge of proposing to Karen.

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Viren and Aditi (Ayesha Takia) first meet at her family home.  Ayesha is absolutely adorable.  She explains to him that she doesn’t want to get married either, but he has to be the one to refuse her, as she can’t.  Once they get that out of the way, they have a wonderful easy conversation.  From the little we’ve seen of Viren’s interactions with Karen, he has a rapport with Aditi immediately and an ease that he doesn’t with his years long girlfriend Karen.

When Viren refuses Aditi as a potential bride, the families grow hostile to one another, as Aditi’s family feels Viren led her on.  They meet by chance in a mall, and he explains asks for her help in convincing his girlfriend’s parents to let her go on a holiday trip to Goa.  Aditi tells her parents that Karen is attending her wedding, and Karen tells hers the opposite.  But Karen joins the party a few days late.  Viren and Aditi spend lots of time together and grow closer and friendlier.  When Karen arrives, she senses what’s happening.  Aditi and Viren spend one whole night talking and fall asleep together on the beach.

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Once they return, Viren does propose to Karen but his family is opposed to him marrying a Christian.  He’s convinced it will never be resolved and meanwhile is obsessing over video he took of Aditi in Goa.  He goes to see Aditi, and almost Romeo like sneaks up her balcony into her room.  What comes next is one of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever seen in Hindi film.  It’s not that Abhay is such a great actor at this early point in his career.  It’s all Imtiaz Ali’s skill in directing this scene.  It’s become one of my all time favorites.

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Viren says to Aditi, “I thought I was in love with Karen.  But if that was love—what is this?”

 

Things become a tangled mess for Abhay, as his parents suddenly agree to his marriage with Karen and now he’s stuck.

The last part of the film is hard to watch because Viren is so indecisive and takes a long time to tell people what he wants to do with his life.  He doesn’t want to disappoint his family, and can’t figure a way out.  He needs to grow up, and so does Aditi.

Margaret at Don’t Call It Bollywood gives a great analysis of Socha Na Tha and how it reaffirms arranged marriage.  Because in the end, this film is showing that the best partner is the one your family chose for you.  That they know you best.  It was her post that led me to buying this film and watching it.  I’m so glad I did.  I loved it and how natural and modern Imtiaz Ali made this story feel.  Abhay Deol was fantastic in this even if I wanted to wring his neck at several points.  Ayesha Takia was wonderful, and I liked how Karen (Apoorva Jha) wasn’t a stereotypical evil ex.  She is actually instrumental in getting Viren and Aditi back together.  Even the stern father, we see really loves Viren, and has good reason for wanting his son to grow up already.  (Since I have a son about the same age who is finding himself, I can relate, much more than I want to.)

Four and a half stars out of five.  Imtiaz, please give us more great romances like Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met with these great real characters!