Bachna Ae Haseeno

True confessions: I'm having a hard time being objective about this film. When ass-hat Raj bailed on Radhika without a word, my heart broke for her - not just because it's clearly a vile thing to do but because it has happened to me.

I wasn't in the rain on my wedding day, thank Helen, but someone (a 20-something someone from Delhi who worked for a large entertainment company, just like in the movie, in fact) did bail out of our relationship by simply leaving without a single word. No email, no text, no call, not even a post-it. I was just going along thinking everything was totally fine, and then for months I slid into a slow, horrible, aching despair wondering what I had done, what was wrong with me, that someone I thought was a decent human being at his core - let alone one that I actually fell for because he was seemed so kind and genuinely interested in me as a person - decided that was an acceptable way to behave. Sounds like a four-episode arc in Sex and the City, doesn't it? As an even crueler reminder that life is rarely like the good parts of movies, the first outing we ever took was to the Gateway of India, where we sat and talked and gazed at the sea and enjoyed a little breeze on a July evening - and, as we did so, it started to rain. Filmi much? The writers of Salaam-e-Ishq certainly expressed some of my pain: believe me, like lost, disoriented firangi Stephanie, I dreamed many times of hopping on a plane, tracking him down, and either having such a catastrophic breakdown that he'd finally understand the effects of what he did and own up to it...or punching him in the face.


But you don't have to have been dumped the way Radhika and I were to love love LOVE Radhika's smackdown. God, that was good.

She got all the right points across, including the ones that have always felt key to me: what you did made me feel so, so worthless. Your inability to communicate and participate left no place for my sadness to go but inward, preying on myself. And what you left me with was a swarm of painful, confused emotions that continued to tie me to you even though you made it perfectly clear that you are not worth being connected to in any way. There's that old saying about living well being the best revenge, and despite her outer success Radhika, by filmi standards, was not living well at all because her heart was frozen. I say, who can blame her? I admire the way her character was written, tyring to navigate the emotional complexities of her situation and demonstrating how challenging it can be to be to actually get confronted in a new way by something/someone you drag around with you all the time.

I almost wish the film had only been about her story. Where I think Bachna Ae Haseeno faltered most seriously was in its ultimate rewarding of Raj with exactly what he wanted from all three of his life's haseeno. He got to use Mahi to boast to his friends, he got away from Radhika with stunning ease, and after his big revelation about how to treat people, he got the woman who seemed ungettable. (More on that in a minute.) Even more problematic, he was rewarded for a second round of thoughtlessness imposed on Mahi and Radhika! He used them for his own ambitions twice! It's one thing to want to apologize, to need to apologize, and it is another to be aware and thoughtful enough of your "victims" that you don't barge into their lives with a big splash and drop your mission on top of their wants and needs. You might mean well, but it's still a dangerous thing to do without real knowledge, which he clearly lacked. Apologizing can be an incredibly selfish thing to do, depending on the situation. Raj did show personal growth, but not enough. He's a long way from done.

So not only does man-child Raj get to clear up his past, he gets his future all shiny and tidy too, in a crashingly disappointing u-turn by Gayatri, the one who said she wanted to live life on her own terms, to do things on her own merit, that marriage wasn't for her, who suddenly can't live without him. She hasn't even seen evidence of his maturing! She doesn't know where he is or why he hasn't spoken to her for so long! For all she knows, he's off sleeping with women across the globe, yet still she writes him those longing letters. VOMIT. Where did this come from? I get that Raj needed to end up with someone, I really do, but how about a new someone who can get to know new and improved-ish Raj, someone for whom loving him does not mean a reversal of her principles.

One of the good about this story is how universal it is. Who among us hasn't been wronged in love? The drama in life may come from those moments (and their exposition, hence my opening paragraph), but most of the real substance happens after. Though sketched to the extreme, I appreciated how Bachna Ae Haseeno let us - and Raj - see the results of his behavior and to understand a little more about the other sides of his past. It's a little hard to believe that self-satisfied Mahi would be so rattled by her Swiss overnight with Raj that her heart shut down for twelve years (and, à la KANK, how can you be frozen in the presence of that partner?!?),

but it was more than just her fantasy about love that he shattered. He broke her entire ability to be happy, and Raj was understandably surprised to learn his impact had been so serious. When her big idea tumbled, she was left with nothing - and it was brought down in such a humiliating way! Imagine finding out you were someone's joke. And imagine being so heartless that you would let someone think that.

Again, not very realistic, but who cares? It was very satisfying to see him have to begin to wrestle with his own cruelty - and it made for such an awwwww thawing scene later. If the movie had stuck to this line, it would have been so much more satisfying. As let down as I was that it didn't, I have to give it points for an interesting and cathartic approach.

I've been mulling over what to say in this post for a week and have lost track of all but the major points of the film, so I hope the makers of BAH will forgive me for not having more to say about the smaller details and pleasures. The dominant one I do remember is Ranbir dancing. I loved watching those long legs fly around in "Jogi Mahi" and especially in the comic movies of "Small Town Girl." Isn't it nicer to see the Hrithik Wriggle in the safety of broad daylight and normal clothes than in "Club Indiana" in pleather and mesh?

And he's better at "Kajra Re" than either Bachchan.

I do have to say, however, that "Khuda Jaane" made me howl with laughter. Having the actors pose while the camera whooshes around them is not the same thing as dancing. If you want them to hold still to show us how transfixed they are by each other and by their new love, fine, but stop with the whooshing. Also, please do not have Deepika snake her arms around like an owl sorceress (e.g. at 4:05 here). And what was with the arm flings movie-wide? Here a fling, there a fling, everywhere an effing fling!

Two more little joys: I'm always happy to see a thermos for Bollybob,

and this has got to be the best image/subtitle pairing of 2008.

Good thing Raj is here to make sure you won't have to figure out how to do anything on your own terms or merits anymore.

Ugh. I'm putting a fork in this and calling it done. Really interesting routine, Bachna Ae Haseeno, but you blew the dismount and broke both your ankles on the landing. And now I'll be off - I have a date with The Source of Ranbir and Other Far More Incredible Joys and Wonders, a.k.a. Neetu and Rishi, in Rafoo Chakkar.


I remember reading talk about a fourth story/track (starring katrina kaif)that had to be cut to allow for an agreeable movie running time. Don't know how true this is but may be why the movie seems incomplete...
Ava said…
Yeh, Even I wondered how Raj managed to 'freeze' up two gorgeous girls, esp Mahi, who should just have used some really bad words for him and enjoyed her honeymoon with her gorgeous gorgeous Kunal Kapoor.. Sigh !

The ending was too 'pat'. The songs take up so much time, that I am guessing the editor had no choice but to make the ending 'pat'. Chalo viewers, Ranbir gets Deepika, go home, its 3 hours already.
Temple said…
I really really liked Bipasha's performance in this - it felt very, well, real. She gave Radhika some dignity and some steely resolve but still showed all the damae. Well done, that girl.
Ranbir is not a fave of mine - he seems to be playing a self indulgent man-child in pretty much everything. This was the second movie I had seen him in after he played a gormless manipulative man-child in Saawariya...The lack of consequences for him, as seen against the major impact his thoughtlessness had on these women was a disgrace. Everything about his character in this movie was distasteful - even his best friend with the smutty t shirt wardrobe was a sign of how ick this all was. You cannot fix up a broken friendship or marriage by doing a little dance and implying it is all the girls fault for having become a frigid cow.
I was disappointed in the whole movie and disappointed that a young actor would be interested in a role that is so backward in it's gender relations.
To me, this movie was pure male wish fulfilment dreck. With no good dancing to redeem any of it.
Ness said…
Yeah, I love Ranbir, but this movie...oh, big fail. I think the Mahi story could have been a film in itself, like a cute po-mo retelling of DDLJ, and it would have worked. Raj f*%ks up, goes back and redeems himself by making sure Mahi ends up with the person she is meant to be with, THE END.

But OH the Gayatri story. The ending really killed BAH for me, because it was so...stupid and out of nowhere, like her character suddenly had a lobotomy.

The best thing about this movie is the title song, by far, and Ranbir's cute dancing which you have already highlighted. Otherwise, yeah, I'm with everyone else. SO MUCH MEH.
Filmi Girl said…
It's rare that I say this but I agree 100% with your review. I did enjoy the film BUT I think the writers totally blew the ending. Ranbir managed to make Raj much more palatable than he would have been other by sheer force of charm; Bips was divine; and Deepika was a black hole.

It does seem really, really bogus that the independent woman would crumble so fast when she realized that he was gone. Maybe a stronger actress could have pulled off the transition but somehow I don't think even Hema Malini at peak adorableness could have pulled this one off.

And the swooshes have to be hiding Deeps terrible dancing skills... LOL! I like to call it the Saif Ali Khan school of song picturizations - shoot from the waist up and substitute camera motion for actual dancing.
Rum said…
Beth, I totally understand where your coming from, being ditched at the last minute sucks and thats why i liked the bipasha smackdown! Raj was a true dickhead to the first two gals,

But the deepika storyline ending just blew, as if she would give all her beliefs and mantra because a sexy thang like Ranbir comes along! lol not being objective here but the cute and adorableness of Ranbir made it worth watching! Have u seen wake up sid, i think you might enjoy a less bastard-like ranbir!

Love that subtitle, i think on my crappy version it was "let me think, because thats hard to do" and a big boinnggg went off in my head as she said that and the perfect subtitle with it! The swooshes made me dizzy after a while i guess they were trying to highlight the scenery and how ranbir and the twirling deepika looked behind it lol!
Anarchivist said…
We were just watching the Rocket Singh video last night, & I realized I haven't seen any of Ranbir's movies! I thought about starting with this one but, uh, maybe not. Grrr. I like my heartbreak catharsis without eventual reward for bad behavior. Say what people will about Devdas, at least he dies pathetic and alone, which is exactly how it should be. If you're guessing you wouldn't want to be any of MY old boyfriends, you'd be right. :)
Shellie said…
I enjoyed this movie, but Bips storyline was my favorite of three for sure (though I love Johi Mahi and so the picturizations is one of my favorite moments of the film - I'm starting to have a whole new appreciation for Kunal since then).

I totally agree that the ending was ridiculous. Raj should have stayed alone (I agree with your reasoning 100% about Deep's character), or found someone completely new.

Sorry to hear about your unfortunate encounter with the opposite sex. How about a story line about the live-in boyfriend who goes overseas for a small school trip, cheats, then breaks up with you the night he comes home BUT YOU STILL LIVE TOGETHER because youre broke college kids who live with his parents(oh and then a week later you get a postcard sent from said overseas place that says "I Love you" on it.
I'm sure we could write one doozy of a screenplay together!
memsaab said…
Your view on this is exactly how I felt about the dreadful AAAAAAAAAAAH with Ranbir's grandpa.
Pessimisissimo said…
Beth, you're absolutely right that Raj dumps on Mahi and Radhika a second time when he suddenly reappears in their lives with his agenda of being forgiven. At least he eventually comes to realize that perhaps there's something more than his own self-regard at stake.

And yeah, cut off the last 15 minutes of the movie and burn the footage. It's a betrayal of Gayatri's character and of the entire message of the film up to that point that they wind up together at the end.

I'm not one of the many Deepika-haters out there--I felt she did pretty well with a character who, in the last moments of the film, is forced by the screenwriters to repudiate everything she's said and thought up to that point. But the ending did make me want to rip the DVD out of the player and send it flying out my window like a Frisbee.

As for your real-life experience and its parallels in the film, I'm so sorry. It makes me ashamed of my gender--not for the first (or last) time...
Anonymous said…
Two thumbs up. =)

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