Rishtey Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film
Nov 29, 2002 By

In a year abysmally short of hit films, it looks like Indra Kumar's old-fashioned heart-warming masala creation could prove a long delayed blessing.

Rishtey is everything that kitschy entertainment in Hindi is meant to be. It's big, bubbly and melodramatic. The characters, born out of the oldest traditions of popular entertainment, are more symbolical than individualistic.

And yet Indra Kumar doesn't rely entirely on tried-and-tested conventions. After two flops -- Mann and Aashiq -- he has fashioned a feel-good family entertainer that succeeds in making one watch on in bemused submission.

Moving away from the standard mother-son format patented by Hindi moviemakers, Indra Kumar goes into a father-son subject with Anil Kapoor and his screen son locked in an insulated mutual admiration club where even the wife and mother Karisma Kapoor isn't allowed.

Indra Kumar tears off pages and subtexts from various films about fatherly pride and filial allegiances. These include the Hollywood tearjerker The Champ and Dharmesh Darshan's Raja Hindustani, though all the source material is used in a refurbished avatar.

There's also an affectionate homage to Charlie Chaplin's cinema where the film's young protagonist Karan is chased across a fence by a local muscle man.

The film's first 15 minutes are a self-contained plot taken from comedian Mehmood's Kunwara Baap where a devoted single parent struggles to keep his head above water and succeeds in overcoming his son's physical disability.

Thereafter, Indra Kumar conceives a narrative that's never short of twists and turns that are not quite unpredictable but provide audiences with the comfort of the familiar.

There are certain stylistic gyrations that are expected from Indra Kumar's cinema -- hence the comic bustle in a slum front-lined by a boisterous fisherwoman Vyjanthi (Shilpa Shetty), who's loud and comic to begin with. As the film progresses the character loses her ear-splitting edges and emerges in a mellow light.

In contrast, Karisma Kapoor's character of the estranged wife is almost frozen in her tragic demeanour. The predicament of a woman deprived of her child by her husband is well imagined in the script. Though how much audiences agree with the woman slapping her father (Amrish Puri) for conspiring to ruin her marital life is a debatable issue.

The film's centrepiece is the father-son relationship. Reminiscent of Mansoor Khan's Akele Hum Akele Tum, the scenes of filial bonding in Rishtey are sunny and mildly endearing.

Anil Kapoor, who has over the years grown into one of the most dependable star actors, seems to share a great comfort level with his screen son (Jibran Khan). He brings a great deal of empathy and warmth to his character.

Karisma Kapoor executes the rather tenebrous role of a suicidal and passionately possessive wife with understanding and sensitivity. Over the years, Karisma's personality has shed its girlish edges. Dressed in saris, she's a portrait of seething restraint.

It's Shilpa Shetty who proves the surprise. She brings oomph to her role of the garrulous fisherwoman. In the latter portions of the plot, she stands up surprisingly well in the dramatic scenes. Here's an actress waiting to emerge from her glamorous image. Rishtey is a step in the right direction for her.

Though this is a proud product of the frequently maligned masala genre, Rishtey has many factors going in its favour. Sanjay Sankla edits the plot in frenetic motions. The drama often entails a lot of physical exertion by the protagonists.

This, added to Baba Azmi's flamboyantly effective cinematography and innovative and energetic choreography that makes optimum use of the soundtrack, makes Rishtey one of the better mainstream entertainers of the year.

In pockets, Rishtey is furious, funny and theatrical. The film's moral values are in a way primitive. Komal's villainous dad who causes trouble in the protagonists' paradise reforms in