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April 3, 1999


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Nice nail polish...

Faisal Shariff

Urmila Matondkar and Salman Khan in Jaanam Samjha Karo. Click for bigger pic!
Jaanam Samjha Karo has shaped up very well. Salman and I look very good on screen," said Urmila Matondkar in a recent interview. Well, the latter bit is far more honest than the former.

Ummm, the colour of Urmila's nail polish is great and maybe Salman Khan should have tried a darker shirt to go with his light trousers. And there was Jaspal Bhatti.... Well, there's not much else interesting in the film. And we had reached a point that we were looking really hard.

Lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri's son tries his hand at direction here. The result is visually appealing but the narrative and performances lack something. And, for some odd reason, Majrooh's son relies on a lot of English lyrics to see himself through the songs.

It's a modern day Cinderella story set in Lalbaug, Bombay, and end up in London after a string of pretty average songs. After all, when you wangle a ticket for an exorbitant sum, the least you expect is to have Urmila show a leg.

Urmila plays Chandni, a famous club dancer at the Blue Moon Club run by one Daniel (known to us as Sadashiv Amrapurkar). She dreams that some day her knight in Armani jacket will come riding into her life and haul her off in a doli. So Rahul -- whom we identify as Salman Khan -- the playboy and bad rich boy, comes into her nightclub.

After two pretty disgusting numbers, the title song provides some relief. By now though, the audience resigns themselves to whatever they are in for. Or make tracks.

Here's one role after Saajan where Salman plays himself. So here we have him, with aid from his secretary, the hilarious Jaspal Bhatti, try to woo Urmila. They go to the extent of buying the nightclub over because Sadashiv has this soft thing for the girl himself.

Bhatti is simply hilarious as 'Tubby', Salman's secretary. The idiot box actor has finally arrived, bringing along a breath of fresh humour to Hindi films.

So Urmila works at the nightclub to keep the house fires burning while Salman tries all that he can to add her name to his list of flames.

Urmila rejects his overtures, all indignation at the thought, and just if he hadn't got the point, delivers him a stinger about the jaw. As oft happens on and off the Hindi film screen, the injured male ego makes the man vow he will teach her a lesson.

When the girl has enough of pushing around, she accepts an offer to perform abroad. For some unknown reason -- will put that bit in as soon as I figure it out -- Urmila flies alone to London while the whole troupe, along with the organiser, miss the flight.

Sitting outside the Indian embassy, wailing away an old man offers to help her and then, yawn, tries to get fresh with her. Getting away she runs into... Surprise, Salman Khan again.

We guess the wily playboy actually masterminded this, but the director wants us to believe that this is all a big coincidence. We take that with a sack of salt.

They wander about and finally spend a night in a barn. When she finds all her clothes in place at dawn, she's assured the playboy's either on his off day or playing straight. Maybe just to make sure, she ends up in a honeymoon suite with him. Again, he comes out, his name unbesmirched. He sleeps out on the sofa while Urmila snores away on the double bed. If you say you haven't seen it before in Hindi cinema, you either don't see Hindi films or are an amnesiac.

Click for bigger pic!
Enter Shakti Kapoor with his latest bit of dialogue, "Kya cheez. Cut piece." That may be weak but the audience livens up the way they didn't when Salman showed up or, for that matter, even when Urmila wears the gauziest of clothing.

Shakti provides his kind of repetitive villainy just when you think the director has sighed and given up the film altogether.

Lots of confusion follows as Salman's grandpa Shammi Kapoor finds him in London with a femme fatale attached. So the playboy tells the grandad that the girl in question is his wife.

Then the villains who've been drumming their fingers till now, get into the act and get after the girl. Turns out that there's no turn-off like a mangalsutra for Indian villains abroad. Which saves the girl a great deal of trouble.

Urmila is just about the only heroine who can give Karisma a run for her money when it comes to pelvic thrusts. Oddly, she manages to look prettier here in her Indian outfits than in skimpier Western ones. Salman does an okay job, that's something he always does -- an okay job.

But Anu Malik ought to know that his music is getting to be painful and to like his voice calls for a fan of a kind who likes to be whipped and bled. In the urge to get the darned audio cassette off, the film-makers shove in about six songs, of which only five are ghastly. Pity that they have to dilute the odd good number so.

It's highly recommended if you are fan of either Salman or Urmila, not otherwise. Ah, if there's one scene in the movie that deserves any mention for sensitive handling, it's the scene where she runs into a woman who used to look down upon her earlier. When she gets the upper hand of the woman who used to run her down, her beatific smile of success says everything. Her nail polish was nice too...

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