Hema Malini returns to direction after a sabbatical, almost twenty years after she made DIL AASHNA HAI , and so does her daughter Esha, whose last release hit the screens three years ago. But the veteran actress/film-maker takes an emotional trip yet again. In DIL AASHNA HAI, it was all about a girl wanting to know who her mother was. In TELL ME O KKHUDA, the gender is changed; the protagonist goes in search of her biological father. It's her passionate quest for her roots, the search for her father that makes her travel to different destinations -- Rajasthan, Turkey and Goa.
Well, this isn't an innovative concept, frankly. Of course, DIL AASHNA HAI had a similar theme, but prior to that, Yash Chopra incorporated a similar sub-plot in KABHI KABHIE. But, if one were to be specific, TELL ME O KKHUDA inadvertently bears a striking resemblance to the Meryl Streep starrer MAMMA MIA!. Generally, in subjects such as these, the focus is on, you guessed it right, the drama and also the emotional quotient. It boils down to how one connects with the plot and how proficiently can the protagonist get into the shoes.
Hema Malini gets it right as far as the plot is concerned and there's no denying that Esha pitches in a sincere, heartwarming performance, but TELL ME O KKHUDA suffers for that vital reason that's the lifeline of every film -- the screenplay isn't convincing enough. The three stories, not connected with each other, hold your interest intermittently, in bits and spurts. But it's the culmination to the tale that spoils the effort. Things go awry at this stage. What was the need for a formulaic and filmy end?
Tanya [Esha Deol] is brought up in the secure and content environment of a loving family [Farooque Shaikh, Deepti Naval], but decides to chart an unpredictable course with the intention of tracing her biological parents. The intense search for her roots, which Tanya takes up passionately and with headstrong determination, takes her around the globe. She meets the three men one by one -- Abhay [Vinod Khanna], a royal by birth who is revered for integrity; Altaf [Rishi Kapoor], a sophisticated Indian settled in Turkey; Anthony [Dharmendra], a gangster. Tanya has to find the answers she's looking for.
Of the three stories, the one featuring Rishi Kapoor manages to hold your interest. That's because it comes across as real. The story featuring Vinod Khanna gets into an altogether different track and even the camel race that's featured in this episode, which should've been a highpoint, fails to excite you. And the one featuring Dharmendra is the weakest of the lot. Frankly, the sequences that feature the real-life father and daughter, Dharmendra and Esha, are electrifying, but the episode featuring the father's past [Hema Malini] is so so disappointing. The emotional connect is missing here. Like I pointed out earlier, even the finale is an absolute letdown.
Hema Malini has handled a few emotional moments well, but the screenplay is far from convincing, disjointed and least engaging, which takes the film down. There's not much hope for music here, yet Pritam comes up with two decent tracks -- 'Mera Mann' and 'Esha'. The latter comes too late in the narrative, though. The cinematography is consistent. The portions in Turkey are luminously filmed.
Esha Deol delivers a mature performance. Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor are accomplished actors all and they stand out in their respective parts. Farooque Shaikh is equally good. Deepti Naval is effective. Arjan Bajwa doesn't get scope, though Chandan Roy Sanyal is a complete livewire, a spontaneous actor. Sudhanshu Pandey is strictly okay, while Madhoo does well. The actress playing the part of Rishi Kapoor's wife does a fine job. Johny Lever provides some genuine laughs. Hema Malini appears towards the end of the film. She doesn't impress this time!
On the whole, TELL ME O KKHUDA has an erratic script, which works in bits and spurts. That, honestly, isn't enough!