When a winning combination of a director and writer team up again after delivering one of Indian cinema's biggest hits [GADAR], you only expect the ultimate in their subsequent project.
Post GADAR, director Anil Sharma not only teams up with GADAR writer Shaktiman, but also assembles an ensemble star cast for his latest outing, AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO. Naturally, and quite expectedly, the first question you ask yourself is, will they emerge trumps this time around as well? Will they recreate history all over again?
AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO can be best described as a swanky car with a faulty engine. It starts off well and as you start enjoying the journey, it suddenly decelerates. And before you think it must've been a minor irritant, the engine conks off, leaving you high and dry.
AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO comes at a time when relations between India and Pakistan are at an all-time high. The film looks at the Kashmir issue, revisits Kargil, talks about Pak-sponsored terrorism, besides the two countries trade abuses and insults, hurl accusations, ridicule each other at international platforms and in the end, suddenly, the story does a somersault - the two nations talk of peace and harmony in the last scene. Strangely, the film is touted as India's first film on Indo-Pak friendship. Wonder, if this is friendship, what exactly is the meaning of enmity then?
One actually thought that Indian film-makers had stopped hitting out at Pakistan in their films, but AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO takes you back to the days when abusing your neighbour would instantaneously draw claps. In today's times, when the two nations are trying their best to bury the ugly past and make a new beginning, a film like AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO only re-opens old wounds.
There's jingoism, there's Pak-bashing aplenty, there're open references to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, there's war, there're charred and mutilated bodies, there're bullets and bombs? and yes, there's a love story interwoven with all this, which is a straight lift from the Ben Affleck-Josh Hartnett-Kate Beckinsale starrer PEARL HARBOUR [two officers in love with the same woman].
AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO tells the story of Amarjeet Singh [Amitabh Bachchan], an army officer, who watches his son Vikramjeet Singh [Bobby Deol] sacrifice his life for the nation.
Years pass by and Vikramjeet's son Kunal [Bobby Deol - in a dual role!] is now an army officer himself. However, Kunal aspires to quit the armed forces, settle down abroad and make ample money.
Kunal spots Shweta [Divya Khosla] at a desert festival and its love at first sight for him. But Shweta has a past. She'd been married to an army officer, Rajiv [Akshay Kumar], who had to leave for the battlefield the day he got married.
But Rajiv lands up in the custody of Pakistani officers [headed by Danny Denzongpa], who first try to extract information from him, but when they don't succeed, they torture him ruthlessly.
Rajiv and the other Indian P.O.W.s somehow escape and manage to reach India. But, in between, Kunal has made a firm decision to marry Shweta. But with Rajiv back on the scene, Shweta finds herself at crossroads of life.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalate to such a level that Pakistani militants, backed by the Pakistani armed forces [Ashutosh Rana], try to spell terror during the Amarnath pilgrimage. But the timely intervention of the Indian army officers mess up the plans of the Pakistanis.
In the last sequence, India and Pakistan shake hands and decide to fight terrorism together.
AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO appeals in parts. Portions like those when Divya narrates her story or later, when Akshay narrates his story, are interesting and well executed. The start of the film has also been shot well, but seems very much inspired by TITANIC. However, the love triangle episode, with Akshay permitting his already-wedded wife Divya to walk out on him to marry Bobby, looks fake and is difficult to absorb.
Writer Shaktiman also loses grip in the post-interval portions. The entire Amarnath pilgrimage episode could've been better penned, but the climax seems so formulaic that the hammer strong impact is missing.
More than anything else, one fails to understand why Shaktiman was so adamant on projecting Pakistan completely black. This aspect is one of the major limitations of the enterprise. However, the dialogues [also penned by Shaktiman] are clapworthy at places [from the masses point of view].
Anil Sharma's USP has always been dramatic portions and a few sequences [the confrontation between Akshay and Danny in the jail] do stand out. But he ought to have chosen a subject that wouldn't seem out of place in the current scenario. Anu Malik's music is a mixed bag. 'Chali Aa' and 'Hume Tumse Hua Hain Pyaar' are decent numbers, but a couple of numbers can easily be deleted. That would only help perking up the pace, to an extent.
Cinematography [Kabir Lal] is outstanding. The lensman captures the various colors in the story to perfection. Action scenes [Tinu Verma] are well handled. Editing [Ballu Saluja] is loose. The editor should've used the scissors sharply.
AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO boasts of a mammoth cast, but it's Akshay Kumar who towers above one and all. His role is the type that would appeal to the masses completely and he enacts it well too. However, his shayaris get irritating after a point [he breaks into a shayari in almost every scene].
Amitabh Bachchan breathes fire when he confronts his opponents. Also, he exudes tremendous energy in the 'Kurti Malmal Ki' song. Bobby Deol is likable. He gets to do what a typical hero does in most films - dance, fight, romance, sacrifice - and he does it like a seasoned player.
Divya Khosla makes a decent debut. Sandali Sinha impresses a great deal. Ashutosh Rana and Danny Denzongpa are adequate - the former has a meatier role. Kapil Sharma does not deliver. Naghma has been wasted. Also, she looks odd as Bobby's mother. Aarti Chhabria gets no scope at all. Govind Namdev is competent.
On the whole, AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO falls way below expectations. At the box-office, it will meet with mixed reactions. While the masses wouldn't mind it, the classes, especially the family audiences, would give it a cold shoulder. From the business point of view, the film has better prospects in circuits such as U.P., Bihar and Punjab thanks to its mass appealing flavour. But at metros and multiplexes mainly, it will have its limitations.