Attempting a period film requires not only courage and conviction, but also the financial strength. And when newcomers are chosen to enact the pivotal characters, it only goes to illustrate the makers' immense faith in the theme they have chosen.
Besides recreating the bygone era with utmost precision, the makers have to ensure that the story they have opted for is genuinely hatke from the usual masala films that are churned out with amazing regularity.
While producer Vijaypat Singhania and director Kuku Kohli deserve a pat for attempting a period film and casting new faces in WOH TERA NAAM THA, they unfortunately have chosen a mundane/humdrum script that may have worked in the 1970s, but looks wholly redundant in today's times and age.
Simply put, to state that the story of WOH TERA NAAM THA abounds in clich?and that the viewers of today will find the concept archaic would be an understatement!
Set in 1956, when the state of Madhya Pradesh was formed with Bhopal as its capital, WOH TERA NAAM THA tells the story of Ustad Samad Khan [Amrish Puri] and his beautiful daughter Reshma [Kanchi Kaul].
Badruddin [Gaurav Chanana], a tangewala, is their neighbour since childhood. He loves Reshma, but can never express his feelings to her. Enters a photo-journalist from Delhi, Akhtar [Arjan Bajwa], who is enamoured by Reshma at first sight.
While Badruddin is in love with Reshma, another bubbly neighbourhood girl Naseem [Shalini Pal] is in love with Badruddin.
Oblivious of Akhtar's obsession for Reshma, Badru helps him find an accommodation and both become friends. Amidst this passion involving four young lovers, comes Nawab Hyder Ali [Rajeev Verma] and his son Basharat [Rajat Bedi]. The latter eyes Reshma and wants to marry her, but she repels his overtures.
Kishan [Prem Chopra], a friend of Samad Khan, tries to convince him to get Reshma married to Akhtar, in view of their strong love for each other. When all attempts to woo Reshma fail, Basharat lets loose a reign of terror
A story like the one in WOH TERA NAAM THA has been done to death by Bollywood film-makers in the 1970s. One just fails to understand the logic behind opting for an obsolete concept in the current scenario.
While the viewer is actually able to guess what the next sequence will be like, it is to the credit of director Kuku Kohli that the film does engage you in patches. Though a few sequences do keep your faith in Kuku's abilities alive, the film is simply no patch on the maker's immensely entertaining products like PHOOL AUR KAANTE, SUHAAG and YEH DIL AASHIQANA.
The fundamental defect of WOH TERA NAAM THA is its story. And what really adds to the misery is that the screenplay constantly leaves you with a been-there-done-that kind of a feeling.
Yet another shortcoming is that the screenplay is disjointed and at places, that of convenience. Like, for instance, what prompts Arjan to walk out on the girl he loves so dearly [Kanchi] without even telling her about it is just not explained and doesn't gel with his gentleman-like character.
Even if the logic that Arjan had given his word to the girl's father [Amrish Puri] is accepted, why does he do a somersault when he learns that his sweetheart is participating in a qawwali competition in his city? Why doesn't he exercise restraint then?
The villain's track [Rajat Bedi] also looks completely unwarranted in the screenplay. Ideally, the film should've ended the moment Amrish Puri realises his mistake and accepts Arjan as the suitor for his daughter, but the sudden re-emergence of Rajat Bedi and the blood-soaked climax gives the feeling that the makers wanted to add a dash of action as a pure commercial ingredient to please the front-benchers.
While the first half is hardly engaging thanks to an overdose of songs in fact, three songs follow one after the other in very quick succession the film does show signs of improvement in the post-interval portions. But the second half is highly erratic the pace picks up and drops at amazing regularity!
Director Kuku Kohli is handicapped by a poor story and a weak screenplay that he chose to believe in. The only factor that you carry home is the dialogues [Tanveer Khan], which are simply wonderful. In fact, the dialogues elevate a couple of dramatic sequences to a major extent.
Although the film is credited with four music composers [Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen, Roopkumar Rathod and Sumeet Chopra], the soundtrack is plain mediocre. Barring the title track and the Reshma number ['Ashka Di Galich'], the remaining numbers are just about functional. Cinematography [Manmohan Singh] is alright.
The film introduces four newcomers and it is Kanchi Kaul who delivers the maximum impact. The pretty actress carries off some dramatic portions with grace, never making you feel even once that this is her debut-making Hindi film. Arjan Bajwa has a strong screen presence and does a competent job. Given the right roles, the youngster has it in him to enjoy a long innings.
Gaurav Chanana is letdown by a stereotypical role, but despite the shortcomings does reasonably well. He needs to control his expressions at places, but overall a decent attempt. Shalini Pal doesn't really get much footage; she is okay. However, it cannot be denied that all newcomers tend to get loud and theatrical at times.
Amrish Puri enacts his role like a seasoned performer. Prem Chopra is as usual. Rajat Bedi hams. Rajeev Verma does well in a small role.
On the whole, WOH TERA NAAM THA is a formulaic film but given the mindset of today's audiences, a subject like this will hardly find takers. Below average.