After having listened to, and loved, a mix version of Kya Mujhe Pyar Hai for ages and ages now, I finally got to watch Woh Lamhe this weekend.
This is latest Mahesh Bhatt movie about his relationship with the beautiful and tragic Parveen Babi. (There were two or so other Bhatts involved in the film as well.)
Parveen Babi enjoyed great success in the 1970s, in movies like Deewar and Amar, Akbar, Anthony, but as the ’80s got into full swing, her star descended and eventually she left Bombay to live in New York. In the interim, she began to exhibit increasingly erratic behaviour that seemed to suggest she was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia - at one point saying that Amitabh Bachchan was trying to kill her – and following a return to Bombay, she died alone in her apartment in January 2005.
Shiney Ahuja plays Aditya Grewal, the Mahesh Bhatt prototype. (With names like Shiney and Chunkey in Bollywood, I think people should lay off Demi Moore and Gwenyth Paltrow for their unusual choice of names for their offspring in recent years.) Parveen, or Sana Azim, as it were, is played by Kangana Ranaut, who already starred with Shiney in Bhatt’s Gangster.
Kangana has an unconventional beauty, and features, when she’s shot at certain angles, that sometimes actually don’t look all that beautiful. Two of her strongest physical assets are luxuriously long and curly hair, and a fantastic figure, both which the film use to great advantage. In the first half hour of the film, when it’s established that Sana is a famous actress and model, we see her in a variety of revealing costumes, accessorized with lots of jewelry, even in her hair, and I don’t mean the usual traditional tikkas and such.
Sana, whose mother is only concerned with her famous daughter’s image and wealth, is in an abusive relationship with fellow actor, Nikhil Rai, when she is insulted and challenged by struggling filmmaker, Aditya, at a Bollywood party one night. Intrigued, she agrees to work on Grewal’s debut picture, much to the objection of her money-grubbing manager and various male hangers-on leeching off her.
Soon after Sana dumps her boyfriend. And yes, of course, next thing up, she falls in love with Aditya while on location in Dubai. This movie is not as typically discreet as most Bollywood fare is, and so not only do Aditya and Sana lock lips, they also have a fairly explicit (by Hindi film standards) love scene, and it’s plain throughout the rest of the film that they bed down together without the benefit of marriage. (There’s also a discreetly filmed, but explicit in its own way, rape scene.)
All that said, the main focus of the film is Sana’s mental unraveling while Aditya’s (and his moviemaking partner, Sam’s) career soars. Alarmed at how her mother and entourage want her treated, he intervenes, thinking he can care for her better, but, this being the Parveen Babi story, it’s a losing battle.
Woh Lamhe is a little over two hours in length. As I looked at the counter on the DVD player and saw that the movie was almost over, I jotted down the word “hollow.” In spite of the supposed great love between Sana and Aditya, I felt nothing. It was like watching one of the hundreds of MTV India music videos about some boy pursuing some girl. I wasn’t moved, and I didn’t find anything I saw between the couple as anything more than empty posturing. Speaking of music videos, I found Chris Isaak and Helena Christansen more involving as they rolled around on that volcanic sand for the picturization of Wicked Game.
And one other thing. Can’t someone with an attention to detail get involved in these films for overseeing the subtitles, please? At one point, after he’s first bedded Sana, just after she utters those three words no guy wants to hear after a fun and meaningless romp, he swings his feet over the side of the bed and says, in English, “Sh!t! It’s 4.30!” The subtitle onscreen, however, read: “Sh*t! It’s 2.30!”
On a positive note, the film does contain translations of the song lyrics onscreen during the picturizations.
See it or skip it?
This is a tough call. If you’re happy to look at a very pretty girl in some pretty settings with her handsome love interest, go for it. If you’re looking for more, and actually want to be moved by the story, you should probably pass on this one.
And whenever Shiney goes to remove his shirt, don your sunglasses. The man is paler than milk-fed veal and is, I believe, capable of reflecting light.