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July 31, 1999


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When love is a bore

A still from Pyar Koi Khel Nahin. Click for bigger pic!
Suparn Verma

Till he occupied the director's chair in Pyar Koi Khel Nahin, Subhash Seghal made his living at the editing table. He should have stayed there.

The tale is old, very old. About love, sacrifice, intrigue and the shocking ways of fate. Gripping stuff really, if they provided straitjackets to keep the audiences in. Else, you have to rely on ennui. But as far as we could see, even that did not stop many people leaving.

Every insipid masala tale needs one large problem that the script, with admirable tenacity, will endeavour to fix before it runs out of film. But with little by way of a story, the patchy bits in PKKN chase each other like episodes in a B-grade soap.

Anand (Sunny Deol) is the dutiful big brother, son and grandson -- the sucker with a heart of gold. He took over the family business when he was very young and now has an empire peddling selling soft drinks. He has a one-track mind in that he only thinks of his family.

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His younger brother Sunil (Apoorva Agnihotri) meets Nisha (Mahima Chowdhary) and they fall in love. Real zippy stuff this, happens all in a day. But Sunil first met the lady as a proxy for his pal and Nisha, for hers.

Apparently the friends in question had no intention to marry each other and so they deputed the stand-ins to ensure that rejection was a matter of course.

Anyway, before Sunil and Nisha -- admirable, isn't it, how many film characters have names of two syllables -- can cut another duet or two, Anand's family decides he has to get married. After much coy complaint, he finally buckles. A meeting is arranged and the woman picked for him turns out to be Nisha.

Anand falls for her, but is refused since she has this thing for someone else. Of course, she doesn't name her swain.

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But Sunil decides that he must sacrifice his grand passion for big brother.

Which, of course, puts the girlfriend in a spot. Things trail along till Anand finally learns out how things lie between the brother and the fiancee. Ever the sacrificial goat, he ought to get them married.

Stop yawning there, will you. We've just about dragged you up to the interval here.

This is where the director finds out, hey, there's no action here. And so he tosses in a bunch of baddies, Anand's business rivals, played by Monish Behl, Dalip Tahil and a clutch of other creepy clowns.

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Trouble follows and Sunil soon vanishes in a car crash. Anand marries Nisha -- she is pregnant, you see. Then she gets a blank call -- heard by the entire family -- wherein she's informed that Anand bumped Sunil off to marry her. Consternation!

Then on the day of karva chauth -- getting to be quite an institution, isn't it? -- Sunil comes back. Consternation compounded! Nisha is left wondering what to do with two husbands and nothing in her tummy but a baby.

If this is the kind of stuff you expect from your regular movie, queue up, queue up. On second thoughts, you needn't worry, there wasn't any big queue that we could see outside.

Sunny Deol adds dignity to the film by his presence though, for the life of us we don't know what he could do to salvage it. This is Mahima's third film and she proves again that no matter how moronic the subject, she can give a consistent performance.

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Apoorva Agnihotri needs to polish up his act. In Pardes, it was Subhash Ghai who showed the way. But here Apoorva shows he needs a skilled and accomplished director to draw a decent performance from him. No, Mr Sehgal doesn't qualify.

The family is composed of actors of the like of Reema, Dina Pathak and Kulbushan Karbhanda, all in the unofficial A-grade actors' Bollywood list. For your info, Farida Jalal is in the A+ category as mother while Rakhee and Aruna Irani who kind of over-exposed themselves as mamas now occupy the same slot as Nirupa Roy.

Except for two tracks, including the title number, the rest of the compositions by Jatin-Lalit are ho-hum stuff. The cinematography just about passes muster and the editing -- Sehgal's presence notwithstanding -- is average. The sets are tacky at times, particularly when it attempts to be grand.

Sehgal named the film Pyar Koi Khel Nahin. Neither is film-making, you know.

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