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Reviewer's Summary - Most Boring

Language: Hindi
Year: Released on December 8, 2006 in the U.S.
Actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Salman Khan, Rani Mukherjee, John Abraham, Om Puri, Rajpal Yadav
Director: Ravi Chopra
Producer: B.R. Chopra
Story: Ravi Chopra
Music: Adesh Shrivastava
Lyrics: Sameer

For every tear drop that fell off Rani Mukerji's lustrous eyes in Baabul, we shed a thousand more - for our misfortune in having to sit through such a tedious movie.

If Baabul proves just one thing, it is that director Ravi Chopra (who also takes credit for the story) has a ways to go in mastering the fine art of storytelling.

After three decades in the movie business, Chopra seems hopelessly at sea in cobbling together a watchable movie even as he works with some of the best talent in Bollywood.

Like most Bollywood movies, Baabul is an incoherent tale of love, some of it unrequited.

But unlike other love stories, Baabul is a very shallow exercise even by Bollywood's woeful standards.

Rich businessman Balraj Kapoor (Amitabh Bachchan) and wife Shobna (Hema Malini) are overjoyed when their only son Avinash a.k.a Avi (Salman Khan) returns home after seven years in the U.S. No sooner does he land in India than he bumps into artist Malvika a.k.a Millie (Rani Mukerji), right at the airport.

Love is soon in the air and the two get married. Meanwhile, Millie's dejected lover Rajat (John Abraham) - if you believe it, the young girl considers him only as her best friend and is blissfully unaware of his deep love for her - quickly vamooses to Europe to pursue his career as a singer.

Four years quickly pass before director Ravi Chopra decides it's time to send Salman Khan to his maker. Millie is so heartbroken over her soulmate's death that she gets into a slough of depression. Voila, her father-in-law Balraj Kapoor hits upon a novel - and bizarre - plan to restore sunshine into the young widow's life. He goes in search of her friend Rajat and prevails upon the young lad to woo Millie into marriage.

There is plenty that seems to have gone askew with Baabul.

Entertaining movies like Constant Gardner, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Sunset Boulevard, Casablanca, Nayagan (Tamil) or Bobby are rooted in the solid edifice of a powerful story supported by the twin pillars of strong acting and coherent narration. Throw in decent music in the Bollywood context and you have an entertainer.

Baabul lacks all of the above. Instead, what we get is an effete love story and a mouthful of cliches from Balraj Kapoor such as life being more important than customs and traditions.

There is also a certain hurriedness sometimes that mars the flow of the movie. For instance, even before you realize that Millie and Rajat are headed towards the altar the wedding cards are printed.

The final scenes wherein Balraj Kapoor gives a moral lecture to his wife and elder brother Balwant (Om Puri) seem so contrived. After listening to a lengthy monologue by his younger brother, Balwant quickly realizes the errors of his decades-long obsession with customs and tradition and changes his ways! Wow, Pericles would be impressed at the power of Balraj's oration.

Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji play their parts well but not spectacularly. Dream Girl Hema Malini's performance is overshadowed by her age-defying beauty.

Salman Khan is so-so while John Abraham seems miscast as the ardent suitor. We liked John Abraham better in Taxi No 9211 and Zinda.

Baabul provides little comfort on the music side. Virtually, all of the songs are dispiritingly commonplace and weak fare.

Forty five minutes into Baabul, we were stuck by the notion that to Bollywood directors audiences must be nothing but cannon fodder. Otherwise, why else would they torment us with an endless run of vapid movies.

Also perplexing is why Bollywood directors have such an idée fix on love to the exclusion of everything else in life. Even in Baabul, there are very few scenes where we see Amitabh Bachchan or Salman Khan focusing on their business. Surely, a billion Indians must at leasty occasionally have other things on their minds besides love.

A misadventure for director Ravi Chopra, Baabul is sheer agony for the audience. - Copyright

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