(Surely that's been used before?)
No one is more surprised than I am that I enjoyed this movie. I really dislike Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! and Hum Saath-Saath Hain,* but I have an inexplicable affection for Main Prem Ki Dewaani Hoon. So I went in with low hopes - after all, what if I only like MPKDH because it's refreshingly Salman-free? But whaddya know, I really did like Maine Pyar Kiya, even though it 1) dragged towards the end, with too many obstacles being thrown in the hero's way, 2) had way too many songs, most of them sung by S. P. Balasubramaniam, whose voice was a distractingly poor fit for Salman's character (or his own speaking voice, for that matter), 3) overly balletic dancing here and there, and 4) occasionally overdone drama and foes that weren't adequately fleshed out. There were also a lot of elements here that I had seen before - the feuding fathers reconcile as they see their young-lovers offspring survive grave physical danger (Bobby), a pack of goons beating up the hero as he strives to impress his love's father (DDLJ), Alok Nath as proud father of slightly bumpkin girl who loves an urban, educated boy (Taal) - and I don't all blame the filmmakers for that, as some of these things were made after MPK and others are just timeless Hindi-film drama elements, there for the taking.
I was also a teensy bit bothered by this scene, which combines him angrily whacking a punching bag with her all but moaning "I...love...." I hate the combination of violence with romance or sex, and this crossed a line for me. Granted, it did not spiral off into him stalking her, him beating up a rival for her affections, etc., so it could have been a lot worse. I'm sure it was just there to be dramatic - and give him an opportunity not to wear a shirt, of course. She doesn't finish the thought, either, which helps, although that too sets up a jarring "if you punch me, I'm not going to flirt with you" dynamic, but whatever. He has a temper, she's sassy, and sometimes that combination doesn't work for me. I'll move on.
I've never found Salman physically attractive - way too much of muscles - but he had a few scenes of puppy-dog cute here, helped by the floppy hair. I think the top left corner of his decoupage self-mural is about the most attractive I've ever seen him. Speaking of decor, again I'll ask why Bollywood sets so often include oversized and often multilple portraits of characters in their own houses, even their own rooms. The entire house in this movie is noteworty, as it has interior balconies and lots of interior windows, which allow for an interesting dynamic of "she's usually not in my room, which would be shocking, but she's in my house, which implies that on some level she is worthy and accepted; she's in my house, so I see her all the time, but she's still across a giant stairwell and open space, so hijinks can ensue as I try to communicate with her (or I have to use the house intercom system)." I know I've mentioned my interest in Bollywood houses, and I'd love to add this one to any research I may do.
The cute and lively spoken banter and flirty looks between Salman and the adorable Bhagyashree kept this movie afloat for me. I've been told the tale of Bhagyashree before, but I had no idea she would be quite so compelling, and I'll join the regret for her relative disappearance from films. Here she is looking cute as a button doing Salman's laundry.
I also honestly enjoyed Salman, which is a rare phenomenon for me. He convinced me that he really did love this girl, and that he really would jump over whatever illogical hurdle was necessary to...win her, prove his love, whatever. I don't agree with the reasoning, mind you, but given that it was there, he sold it. Also he does the moonwalk with a pigeon.
Reema Lagoo was great at doing her loving, sensible mom thing - I've often wished I had a mini Reema Lagoo that I could keep with me to give me advise, as surely she always knows what is best.
I really wanted more on the relationship between the fathers, especially why Prem's dad had become so cold toward Suman's. I get that the one was successful and rich and lived a much different lifestyle and that the other had dreamy, wistful, and probably outdated notions of what their friendship should be. But there wasn't even a first joyful reunion then gradual realization of "my old friend doesn't fit my new life" - the brush-off was all but instantaneous. I like when movies (or books) explore friendships, and here I would gladly have traded some of the rain-drenched fight or going over a waterfall for a few minutes of watching the dads - who are the whole reason this story happens, after all - build a solid foundation for why later decisions and events need be so dramatic.
Overall, though, enjoyable, if just for the couple's cuteness (and a literal toe-curl as the two fall in love) - oh, and to laugh at some of the dancing.
But certainly nothing I'd ever watch again (unlike MPKDH, which I have seen at least three times, for reasons that I will take to my grave).
Completely random note: as a knitter, I was thrilled to see a heroine with needles in hand.
Clearly she has not been told about the sweater curse, which states that if you knit something for a significant other to whom you are not married, they will promptly dump you.
* I saw both within my fist ten Bollywood movies, so it's entirely possible there's a lot about their importance that I just wasn't aware enough to understand. I'll probably watch them again some day, but I might have to invent a drinking game as motivation.