On our way to watch Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya, a journalist friend travelling with me remarked that he would be very miffed if Dharma Productions tried messing with his favourite love story Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenga. I assured him that there is no way on earth Karan Johar would touch the 1995 classic.
Oh, how wrong was I! Turns out they did have the cheek to touch the film often celebrated as one of the best love stories made in Indian cinema. Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya is precisely the same plot as DDLJ. Except that Alia does not go to Europe but to Delhi, and Varun follows her back to Ambala. Okay there are no sarso ke khet (mustard fields) and no exotic locales, but they have retained almost every other element.
So they have a train sequence, they have conversations between girl's angry father and boy, they have a protagonist stretching arms in trademark SRK style to propose love... and they even early morning scene between the lead pair after a night of heaving drinking. And yes, the 'Jeele Apni Zindegi' moment!
But hey! I was not offended. Neither was my journalist friend who was very judgmental before the film started. Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya may be a rehash, but it turns out to be quite some fun.
Set in contemporary India, where you find details of a girl from facebook, HSKD works primarily because of the two lead actors. Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan may not quite be the Kajol and SRK in intensity, but they have a chemistry which is remarkable. Alia's growth as an actress has already been proved by her earlier films this year. Varun in the meantime brings along a spontaneity that almost reminds one of Govinda.
The writer manages to sketch some rather entertaining scenes and characters. The hero has his friends who are as entertaining if not more. And of course the patriarch of the girl's family is played by a very impressive Ashutosh Rana, who finally gets an A-list film after years. This is one actor who has been regretfully underutilized by Bollywood. He does well as he steps into the shoes of Amrish Puri.
The first half is a joy ride. The second half takes the romance ahead while managing to keep the fun on. However in doing that the story slips miserably to a point where the director seems to have just decided to end his film because he could not take it creatively forward. The end is as abrupt as anything could be. While keeping the laugher on, they fail to create the emotions that are attached to DDLJ. Too many strings are left untied. Not tidy!
Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya is yet another example why certain films are called great and the rest are just average. A DDLJ is almost impossible to redo. You do not root for the lead actors in HSKD like you did for SRK and Kajol. Yet, this one is a fun one-time watch for sure. Like any honest celebration of our filmy spirit.
Critic: Noyon Jyoti Parasara
(3 / 5) : Good