Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. and Anubhav Sinha Productions P. Ltd.'s AAPKO PEHLE BHI KAHIN DEKHA HAI, directed by Anubhav Sinha, is inspired by two English flicks, MEET THE PARENTS and FATHER OF THE BRIDE.
It tells the story of a father (Om Puri) who cannot accept the fact that his daughter (Saakshi) will get married and go away like other daughters too. He believes that no other man can love her as much as he does. But the inevitable happensï¿½
Saakshi falls in love with Priyanshu, but Om Puri doesn't approve of him. But eventually he gives in to his daughter's wish and gets her married to the man she loves.
A simple love story, AAPKO PEHLE BHI KAHIN DEKHA HAI focuses on the sensitive relationship between a father and his daughter. However, the film does bear a striking resemblance to the recently released KEHTAA HAI DIL BAAR BAAR [Paresh Rawal-Jimmy Shergill-Kim Sharma]. Though, of course, the handling of the subject by writer-director Anubhav Sinha is far, far superior than the earlier Indianised version.
If Sinha had attempted a love story earlier [TUM BIN], he has opted for an equally strong emotion this time ï¿½ the father-daughter relationship. A subject-material like this ought to be handled with gloves, with utmost sensitivity. AAPKO PEHLE BHI KAHIN DEKHA HAI comes right in that respect, to an extent.
Laced with humour and light moments, the first half of AAPKO PEHLE BHI KAHIN DEKHA HAI makes you laugh (plenty) and even shed a tear (at times). The setting of the film ï¿½ Canada ï¿½ also adds zing to the enterprise.
Two sequences in particular ï¿½ the interaction between Om Puri and Priyanshu the first two times ï¿½ are creditworthy. Especially the second one, when Farida Jalal and Saakshi want Om Puri to meet Priyanshu over breakfast.
The romance between the lead pair has been handled with as much ?n as the possessive streak of a doting father. In a nutshell, the breezy first half raises the expectations of an equally fascinating second.
But the script falters in the post-interval portions. The story actually ends soon after the interval when the father bows down to his daughter's wishes and when it dawns upon him that the prospective son-in-law is now the most important man in his daughter's life.
The villain's track mainly comes as a stumbling block in the main story. And that's because this track has not been developed and woven convincingly in the screenplay. Besides, there're a few unwanted scenes in the enterprise, which unnecessarily add to the length of the film, thereby diluting the impact.
The Navneet Nishan sequence is yet another aspect the film could've done without. It fails to evoke mirth and does precious little to elevate the situation.
The pre-climax is another sore point. Om Puri severing all ties with Priyanshu just before the marriage, only because the latter reveals the truth about himself ï¿½ that he is a suspended cop ï¿½ is hardly a valid reason for the father and daughter to make such a hue and cry about. Om Puri starts behaving as if Priyanshu was some terrorist on the run ï¿½ this aspect is very difficult to digest!
Director Anubhav Sinha takes a step forward when it comes to treating the subject. Merging form and content beautifully, the director handles the emotional moments with as much flourish as the light ones. The film is rich in emotions and if the credit for making you laugh and cry should be reserved for Om Puri, Sinha should also be credited for extracting such a wonderful performance from the actor. Even the dialogues penned by Sinha are natural and non-filmy. But he is letdown by a weak screenplay.
Shashank Dabral's screenplay could've been more convincing. Though the film has a couple of well-penned sequences, the writer should've concentrated on the three important characters instead of deviating to an unwanted sub-plot.
Vijay Arora's cinematography boosts the enterprise to a major extent. There's no denying the fact that Canada has never looked so beautiful in any Hindi film before. The sets (Acroplois) are rich and merge well with the exteriors of Canada.
Nikhil-Vinay's music is yet another asset. The tunes are melodious and compliment the goings-on beautifully. At least four numbers can easily be singled out for their sheer appeal ï¿½ the title track, 'Aisi Aankhen Nahin Dekhi', 'Kuch Bhi Na Kaha' and 'Aapki Yaad Aaye To Dil Kya Kare'. The picturisation of 'Dil Gaya Kaam Se' is simply marvellous in terms of technique and choreography.
Om Puri is the soul of the film. The dependable actor is in complete form, proving yet again that given any challenging role he can work wonders. Priyanshu is efficient, managing to register an equally strong impact despite Om Puri's towering performance. Saakshi is likeable, enacting her part with utmost conviction. Not once does she go overboard. Farida Jalal is superb, complimenting Om Puri at every step.
Manoj Pahwa, Arundhati and Virendra Saxena are adequate. Sajeel (as Jibran) is simply wonderful.
On the whole, AAPKO PEHLE BHI KAHIN DEKHA HAI has a universally acceptable theme (a father's love for his daughter) that has been handled with sincerity. Despite a not-too-convincing screenplay, the film has its share of plusses in the form of competent performances, able direction, rich emotions, rib-tickling comedy and soulful music, besides the breath-taking locales of Canada. At the box-office, the film may find flavour with families. The fantastic promotion by its producers (Super Cassettes Industries Ltd.) will only add to its prospects.