Tuesday 2 December 2008

Lamhe (1991)

Dude. Duuude.

Lamhe (Moments) is just wrong. Sorry. It seems the film divides people into two camps: those who don't mind the mother-man-daughter love triangle, and those who do. Unfortunately, while the PPCC considers itself pretty tolerant, we fall into the latter camp. We just found it... nasty. Plus, the lopsided emotionality, the ceaseless tempo changes, the fact that Anil is missing his trademark 'stache and that Sridevi spends so much time squealing pretty much ensured that we were left cold.

Who's this guy? Hmm, don't know.

Viren (some clean-shaven guy) is a London-based NRI with roots in Rajasthan. When he returns to the land of his patriarchs and meets his old nanny (Waheeda Rehman), he peeks out his bedroom window one day to see the girl next door, the bubbly Pallavi (Sridevi), dancing in the rain. Viren is immediately smitten, even though his nanny chides him - "But she's older than you! Men don't marry women who are older than them in our country, remember!" But no worries, the problem solves itself when Pallavi's fiancee (Deepak Malhotra, playing the Yash Chopra Trademark Man In Uniform) emerges from the woodwork and they're married. Viren is devastated, but says nothing. Eventually Pallavi becomes pregnant, but she and her husband get in a huge car accident (another Yash Chopra Trademark for conveniently disposing of unwanted lovers). The husband dies, Pallavi is badly injured and she too dies later in childbirth.

The Yash Chopra Trademark Hospital Scene.

OK, now it gets wrong. The baby, Pooja, is handed over to Waheeda Rehman for more nannying, and Viren, steeped in griefly grief, flees to London to spend the next twenty years grieving and tending to his mustache. He returns to Rajasthan every year for Pallavi's death anniversary, but avoids little Pooja - ostensibly because her presence is a painful reminder of Pallavi's death (indeed, when the doctors had told Viren that they could save either the mother or the daughter, Viren had immediately insisted, "Save the mother then!"). What this all means is that little Pooja grows up with an intense curiosity and crush for her Mystery Father Figure. When Viren returns on her 18th birthday to hold the yearly grief session, he lifts his griefly grieving eyes to see... SRIDEVI! AGAIN!

You can guess where the story goes now. (At least the stache is back.)

Sucking her finger! A little scandalous.

Talking into that old Star Wars prop. Yet more scandalous.

We tried to rationalize it. "Hmm, well, if Viren was eighteen when Pooja was born, that's not so horrible," we thought, "heck, Katrina Kaif is dating Salman Khan, isn't she?! We love the Anil/Rani jodi, and that's an 18-year gap too, no?!" But no amount of math could make this OK.

PROBLEM ONE: A relationship between two adults is fine, but you can't spend half the film waiting for one of the lovers to grow up from baby to consenting adult. PROBLEM TWO: The incestuous vibes are strong, as Viren is essentially the father figure - he provides money and birthday presents throughout Pooja's childhood. And he loved her freakin' mom! PROBLEM THREE: So another attempt at rationalizing the Viren/Pooja pyaar was when we thought, "Well, Viren's spent his entire adult life grieving over a lost crush from his youth and so he hasn't really grown emotionally. So maybe it's not so lopsided, after all!" Yet the film seems to constantly emphasize the stark difference in maturity between quiet, aging, world-weary Viren and child-like, giggly Pooja. ARGHH. We think maybe, maybe this would have made sense if Viren had been a 14-year-old barely pubescent kid who crushed on Pallavi and then got a more reasonable chance with the daughter. But the fact is that Viren is totally a peer of Pallavi's, stache or stacheless, and his role in raising Pooja should - you'd freakin' think - preclude any future hanky panky.

Anupam, we loved you in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai but lately you've been making it hard.

For once, we think Anil Kapoor was miscast. That is, his performance is fine (if subdued to the point that we wondered if he was on Valium) but he's both too old to play the fresh-faced youth Viren and too young to play the aging, gray-sideburned Viren. However, any actor would have been too old and too young for this - hence why we think two actors would have been needed, a Master Tito for the prologue and Anil for the adultness. That would have saved us from his naked upper lip too. And anyway, these silly mismade romantic fables are not what we watch Anil for - we want action! intensity! screaming his head off! sinister-ness! moments of vulnerability and then maybe more samurai-style screaming! Pran-like sleaziness! swinging his jacket over his head while wearing a cheesy silk shirt and bellowing, "Inshaaaaa'Allah!"! You know, something fun and lovable and Pranly. We don't want this piece of pickled, boring, tranquilized lameness.

Sridevi - we've only seen her in that Sanjay Dutt movie where she's framed as a drug mule in Hong Kong. We enjoyed her there, but in this film we could barely cope with her airheaded bounciness and giggly shrieks. Waheeda Rehman was fine in her limited role, and Anupam Kher was - as in Beta - pretty awful.

Apparently this film flopped in India (and it's Karan Johar's favorite Yash Chopra film?! where'd we read that?), and Yash Chopra decided that this was because the story was too "avant garde". Umm, sorry, Uncle, but it looks like you're going in the wrong direction. This was so anti-avant garde, it's like you went back in time faster than the DeLorean. It basically advocated child brides, as what else is Pooja?! The nail in the coffin is when Nanny Waheeda reminds Viren that dramatic age differences are only OK if the man is older than the woman. Oh yeah, no duh.


Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...


I loved this movie when it came out (maybe because I had just turned a teen and sympathised???) but the way I reason it is that even though Anil supplied the monetary backup for Sridevi II, he was never around her when she was growing up. Plus he was never interested in Sri II - the kid, since that would remind him of Sri I. So he couldnt have had lecherous intentions...

And in the end, when his wannabe gf grills him about her, Anil realises he is in love with Sri II- and squealy or not- she was cute, so cant blame him :D

Anonymous said...

My main problem with the love connection is that he only falls for her because she looks EXACTLY like her mother. So are looks the only important thing in love?

Anonymous said...

BTW you are writing these faster than I can read them, how are you even watching the film in between???? :-) So glad to see you back though!

ajnabi said...

Have you ever read that fantasy (or maybe it's science fiction, I can never remember which telepathy fits into) book by Anne McCaffrey, *Damia*? Basically the same plot. I think I'll like Lamhe when it finally crawls up my queue.

Rum said...

Nahiiiiii, ppcc why didn't you love this? This one of my favorite anil movies of all time, I reviewed at Masala Pradesh, check it out. But it was such a nice though-provoking movie that reminded me of Lolita especially with Sri's orgasmic looking faces!
I agree with Shweta here, Anil was far from leery like Humbert coz he's an absent money-giver to her family.
Your on a roll now ppcc, I will make this required reading material in the Anil Masala State!

Rum said...

Plus Anil is so scary without the mush but he makes up for it in acting with his freakout scenes!

Temple said...

Nahiiiin - and yeah what Shweta said! I didn't see Anil as her father figure as he was a bank, not a person in her life, and she filled in all the emotional details in her own fantasy (a bit like Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster or the movie starring the fab Fred Astaire). I actually thought the physical resemblance between Pooja and Pallavi was what stopped him from seeing Pooja as a romantic option or even just as a girl on the ede of becoming and adult - he really had to separate her from her mother before he could appreciate her own qualities. The world kept confronting him with the question of wat was she to him, and slow as a wet week, he eventually realised.
Things to love - SriDevi as Pallavi was beautiful and joyous. The songs! Her perfomance made me love this movie and it remains one of my favourites.
Not so loveable - yeah the role of women was again a bit questionable, but I also saw the things like Waheeda discussing the age difference as representative of the old world vs Viren and Pooja in their new world style. And I am not an Anil fan as a rule. I am always afraid the chest hair will make an appearance.

I love Lamhe!

Anarchivist said...

Okay, I haven't seen this, so I can't really judge (although Memsaab's comment about the problematic nature of look-alike loves is well taken, especially since I just watched "Jaan-e-Mann"). But having read and watched the deeply creepy "Thorn Birds" in my formative teen years, my first thought on reading your description was: well, at least he isn't a priest!

Kanan said...

One word for the write up! Awesome!

It took me back. I've watched this film probably a few times and would watch it again any time. Love it dearly. I never really thought of all the "duuuude" stuff you mentioned so.. but I still like it quite a lot. The 23+ slaps are fun to watch and the Pooja-Anita shopping trip meeting is funny. I adore AK with 'stache.

Filmi Girl said...

I totally understand why you didn't like this (i.e. the same reason I hate "Emma" with an added dash of Anupam Kher needs to stick to Hollywood films) but for whatever reason I really love this film.

I was able to handwave away that Anil looked older in the first bit. I didn't see him as Sridevi I's equal but more as a kid with a puppydog crush. I put him at "16" or so. Later, I wasn't too freaked with the Sridevi II as he didn't really see her grow up as a father figure - like the creepy Mr. Knightly DOES in "Emma" (Yuck!). Older Anil needs some joy in his life and it's Sridevi II's bouncy personality rather than her identical looks that win Old Anil over. In fact, if I remember correctly, the identical looks things derails the romance.

I'm going to have to side with K. Jo. on this one - not to mention the soundtrack is great! "Meri Bindiya" is one of my favorite songs and that '50s medly is pretty funny... :)

Anonymous said...

"This was so anti-avant garde, it's like you went back in time faster than the DeLorean."

Thats so true! I could have put up with the guardian+ward romance thing (I've read and enjoyed several of Daddy Long Legs clones!) if it hadnt been for the look-alike mother-daughter thing. Thats what made it pretty Lolita-esque for me. Plus, Anil's determined celibacy over a teenage crush, and Sridevi II's screeches didnt exactly help.

I am surprised at it being a flop though, since its so much like a male fantasy come alive (nubile teenager determinedly pursuing middle-aged man)! ;-)

a ppcc representative said...

Ah! It seems my readers are divided as well!

Shweta - I think I would have probably LOVED this movie when I was 15 and didn't worry about things like age gaps (oh, what I would have given for some Harrison Ford-ness).

Memsaab - Ha! Good point. Doesn't Sri2 get a cheeky line about that too? Like, "You only like me for my face!"

Memsaab2 - Well, it's been a slow social week over at the PPCC and so I've had ample free evenings to indoctrinate myself in Anil Kapoor movies! Better than the drought from earlier, I reckon!

Ajnabi - I'll be interested in reading your take on it! I kind of want to like this movie, but just... can't. Thanks for the book rec!

Rum - Oh, Rum, I'm sorry. If it's any consolation, there are a few other "classics" that I've failed to like (e.g. Deewaar). Haha, the Lolita connections are interesting indeed! Yay Anil Masala State! Rum, what's a good Madhuri/Anil masala 90s movie? I want more like Beta!

Rum2 - Agreed that Anil sans stache and sans meltdown is highly unsatisfying.

Temple - Ha! So many "nahiiin"s to this post, I'm starting to feel guilty. And gosh, you make a good argument for the film. Great comment!

Anarchivist - Ha!

Kanan - Thanks! Oh, I feel so bad about bashing what is clearly revealing itself to be a beloved Readership favorite. The high point of the film for me was the 23+ slaps! WH-PSHHHH!

Filmi Girl - Ah! We agree on so much, maybe I need to give this one another try. Although I agree that it's sweet how Sri2 is the light of old Anil's life, I still found it all so lopsided - if this week has taught me anything, it's that brooding Anil requires Rani's love - bubbly but not brainless!

Bollyviewer - So he was celibate! I deleted that line in my review since I wasn't sure, but goodness, GOODNESS. Back to Nayak, I go.

red42 said...

I'm firmly with you on this one - I didn't like this movie at all. Well, except for the scene with Sridevi dancing as Pallavi at the beginning. In fact Sridevi was the only reason I made it to the end.
I don't like Anil Kapoor in his earlier movies - I think he has matured into a good actor, but in this movie he is just creepy! The whole mother daughter thing was just too wrong, no matter how I tried to rationalise it. And I do see the point about him not being there while Pooja was growing up, but it just wasn't enough to make me enjoy the movie. I also have a lot of issues with the excessive (IMO) body hair - just - ugh!
A much better Sridevi as mother/daughter movie is Khuda Gawah - plus it has Amitabh and awesome scenery. I always feel poor Sridevi was shortchanged in that her era co-incided with some very dodgy movie storylines, and excessively hairy leading men. She deserved better!

Temple said...

Red42 - I do agree with you that Khuda Gawah is great and I hope P-PCC takes a look at that, and I do think poor Sridevi deserved better than to have her career blighted somewhat by 80s fashion and the leading men of the era. As did Madhuri.

Anonymous said...

i'm a bit late but let me add - NAHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!!

I saw this movie when it first came out, when I was ten, and I lurves it. I really do! I didn't even understand why people were freaked out by it until I was in my teens and READ about the father-daughter angle. And by then of course i was deeply in love with this. Le sigh.

PS - so I take it you're not much of a Twilight fan? If this creeps you out then I can't imagine you going for that stuff.

Anonymous said...

Excellent movie. Excellent moments.
Excellent meledy of colours.Excellent music. Rajasthan looks so beautiful as compared to London in 2nd half.

People with sensitive nature and who have experienced pain or deep love will be able to identify with the movie better.
For the rest this might be tad boring and slow...

Q Leo Rahman said...

I thought this romance between a lady and her father figure was taking it too far.