Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deol Dhamaka: Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002) ... Esha got the shaft

Since Esha Deol has largely been ignored in the blogosphere's celebration of DEOL DHAMAKA (except for Ness's delightful review of Yuva), I decided to throw her a bone and check out one of her films. And I'm pretty pleased that I did, honestly.

Na Tum Jaano Na Hum takes it's title from the popular song from Kaho Naa Pyar Hai, capitalizing on the success of Hrithik Roshan's debut film. Unfortunately it did not work in the case of this film, which was pretty much a flop. However I think the failure of this film has more to do with the timing of it's release. Though not a wildly original concept, this film's formula was a fairly successful one in the late 90s. Someone on the YouTube comments suggested that unfortunately by the time Na Tum Jaano Na Hum released, audiences had already seen the likes of Dil Chahta Hai and Lagaan, and a different type of film was emerging - something that embraced new cinematography and modern, exciting lifestyles. Still, I found the storyline to be remarkably close to Mujhse Dosti Karoge which released only a few months later and did okay.

Anyway, I found the movie to be surprisingly cute, albeit saccharine. Esha Deol plays a sweet, simple young girl named (surprise, surprise) Esha who finds a love poem in a college textbook. She falls in love with the writer of the note, and dedicates a song to him on the radio. The writer of the note, Rahul (SRK Hrithik Roshan) happens to hear the same radio show and also calls in to say a message to her. They begin corresponding via P.O. Boxes and fall in love through their letters.

We also meet Rahul's best friend Akshay (Saif Ali Khan), a wealthy playboy who serial dates and cannot understand Rahul's romantic notions. Akshay's parents want him to settle down and get married asap.

As luck would have it, Esha and her grandfather hire Rahul as a photographer for their business, and though Rahul initially declines to come to their hometown of Dehradun, he eventually calls back and accepts the job. Esha has a large, warm family and they welcome Rahul into their fold immediately. Rahul and Esha share several adventures together and become friends, but Esha is still in love with her anonymous penpal. Meanwhile her family is working hard to convince her to agree to marry a family friend's son -- who turns out to be (dun dun dunnnnn) Akshay! Esha finds out that Rahul only agreed to the job and befriended her to "scope her out" for his best friend! Akshay, who is extremely hesitant about marriage, has finally been convinced that this girl is perfect for him by his best friend. And when he meets her, he is instantly charmed and falls in love.

Esha and Rahul's friendship cools off, but she is still waiting for her penpal lover. She sends him her favorite childhood stuffed toy, a little Paddington Bear. He, in exchange, sends her his favorite toy plane. I sort of throw up at the cutesyness, but it's still kind of adorable. They finally decide to meet -- on the day of Esha's engagement to Akshay! Hidden in the shadows, Rahul spies Esha and realizes that his penpal lover is marrying his best friend!

Your classic love triangle with the bromance thrown in for extra melodrama - but it's still an enjoyable film. It's a family-friendly, chaste, romantic film with lovely moments and cringeworthy ones too. Nothing spectacular or awe-inspiring, but your average cheesy Bollywood extravaganza -- with one saving grace. The friendship between Rahul and Akshay. Somehow the interaction between these two was something I really had fun watching. Their playful jibes and open affection was really sweet. The scenes between them really made the film a tad better than just ok for me.

Hrithik does his usual earnest performance. I usually find him a bit prone to overacting, but for some reason I didn't mind it as much in this film. I credit the director, Arjun Sablok, for giving him so many subtle moments that allowed me to truly appreciate him for once. I'm not a person who finds Hrithik "hot" ... he's ok but there's something about him that I find a bit plastic usually. I thought he put in a good performance here and didn't get as annoyed with him as I did in Mujhse Dosti Karoge or Yaadein, or especially Kabhi Nonsense Kabhi Dumb.

Saif Ali Khan did a great job with his role. I think he got typecast as a player for a long time, but in this case he's mostly a good guy, he just wasn't ready to get married. He's definitely an awkward dancer, but it certainly seems that he worked really hard on his steps in "Leke Pyar Ki Chunariya" ... it's kind of sad, actually. But he has this moment towards the end of the film, the moment where he realizes that his best friend was in love with his fiancee and sacrificed his love for him -- it's really lovely! I was moved ... and you could see glimmers of the brilliance he shows in later films like Parineeta and Omkara.

And now for Esha Deol ... oh, how do I sum this up? I want to say that I think the industry has unfairly written Esha off. She's really not THAT bad. I mean, she's not that GOOD either, but I really strongly feel that she's no worse than the other popular actresses of today. I would definitely put her on par with Sonam Kapoor, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone. Especially Deepika, who I think Esha resembles quite a bit at times. The issue with Esha is that she sometimes tends to go a bit blank in the eyes - she looks a bit vacuous.

Hello??? Anyone home???
 She also has a tendency to look slightly grumpy, getting a little bit of the Sourpuss-Jaya-Bachchan face. But, in her defense, I think it's just how her lips are, and I would NOT want her to go do something stupid like plumping her lips. But in terms of acting talent, she's no worse than the those ladies who are getting plum roles in Bollywood today. So why did Esha get the shaft? It doesn't seem quite fair. She had a bit of a revival after her glam makeover in Dhoom, but honestly I really liked her as she was in this movie. She was simple and pretty. Although the girl playing her younger sister TOTALLY outshone her -- that girl was awesome. Why isn't she a heroine now?? I don't know who that girl was but I feel like I should.

This girl should be a STAR
Anyway, yeah, Esha. I don't think she's terrible. There are certain shots that she looks so glazed over it's almost creepy, but then, she had some cute moments too.

I had to giggle when Esha had a special scene where she danced around to Dharmendra's popular song "Mein Jatt Yamla Pagla Deewana" from Pratigya. It was really, really cute!

And she does resemble her super gorgeous mother at times, at certain angles or with certain expressions. And they had a really cute montage of real shots of young Esha in the beginning. It was really fun to see how totally NORMAL she looked as a kid and young teen!

It was also nice to see yesteryear actresses like Moushmi Chatterjee and Rati Agnihotri make an appearance. Rati, in particular, looked absolutely stunning.

In all, it's not a movie for the weak-stomached ... if you can't handle sappy romances then this isn't going to be your cup of tea. But if you like an occasional Yash Raj film, you might like this one - it's in the same vein. And I thought it was worth watching for the Hrithik-Saif bromance. And I don't think Esha is THAT bad. I have hopes for her, I really do!

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  1. I can't believe I haven't seen this movie already. By all rights I should have. I was very much part of the gaggle of girls at school who fell for Hrithik because of KNPH and were fida over him. I bought all the cassettes from his movies, including NTJNH, and listened to them repeatedly till the movie was released. But the release of NTJNH happened when we made our move to NZ so I never got the chance to see it :( On the other hand all my friends were like -cooooool, you're going to the country where Hrithik and Gautam (errr badboy character from Ekta's KSBKBT) were-. I remember my friend writing me a letter from India and 5 pages were dedicated to telling me all about the NTJNH plot hehe. I must hunt it down and re-read that and your review after watching this one sometime :)

  2. That isn't a young Ahana Deol is it?

    I would probably want poke my eyeballs out while watching this but I think you captured Esha's flaws very fairly. She's not bad but she's not good. And she chooses (or is offered) really boring roles.

  3. I can totally imagine what kind of film this is - it sounds...pleasant, inoffensive and kind of unmemorable. Which may be the problem with Esha - there's just nothing that stands out about her, no charismatic spark. That she looks like a carbon copy of her momma probably works AGAINST her, I would say.

    That said - I would totally watch something like this as a diversion on a rainy Sunday or something. I think I would love it for Saif though, weirdly, rather than poor Esha or plastic Hrithik :)

  4. Cute film that I've seen a few times now... I like Esha more than Deepika, but I like Sonam more than both of them...

  5. I love this film! Cannot believe its the same Arjun Sablok who made Neal n Nikki! In addition I have great hopes for Esha but sadly she's had bad luck. She does extremely well in these simple/girly roles but then also excels in an Ankahee or Darling. Honestly there's very little not to like apart from the fact that she's not the 'conventional' girl that Bollywood is endorsing these days. (fair, tall, skinny etc etc basically Katrinas and Deepikas). and hence why i think she gets left behind. I truly hope her so called comeback is exactly that, a comeback!

  6. i love dis movie very much..............<3