MAIN HOON NA
MAY 6, 2004 – ONE INDO-PAK BHAI-BHAI HOMILY, one anti-Pak diatribe, two dramatic entrances (the villain’s, the hero’s), one full-fledged action sequence (shattering glass, slo-mo flying bullets, the works), one deathbed speech, one funeral, one flashback, one family secret, one Ramu kaka figure, many tears from Shah Rukh Khan – and it isn’t even ten minutes into Main Hoon Na.
Farah Khan, it appears, was really serious when she said her directorial debut was a throwback to seventies’ potboilers, and, with the Manmohan Desai logic that the audience will accept a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g as long as it’s not given time to think, the breathlessness continues… Major Ram Sharma (Shah Rukh Khan) goes back to school to do the following: protect student Sanjana (Amrita Rao) from terrorists, reunite his family (Kirron Kher as mom, Zayed Khan as younger brother Lucky), reunite Sanjana with her estranged father (Kabir Bedi), foil the plans of anti-nationals headed by Suniel Shetty (who, of all times, chooses this film to underplay his role), foster the Lucky-Sanjana romance, and, finally, woo the hottest chemistry teacher on the planet (Sushmita Sen + Chiffons –> Spontaneous Combustion).
Most of the film is set in a college campus, a very Kuch Kuch Hota Hai type of college campus, but where Karan Johar used the fun ‘n’ frolic as a springboard for relationship drama – in other words, pull out the handkerchieves – Farah Khan uses it as comic relief in her big, slick, well-mounted, well-shot (by V Manikandan) action movie. In other words, pass around the popcorn.
So Main Hoon Na is fun, action, fun, sentiment, fun, action, fun… nicely packaged by the director and Abbas Tyrewala (who, after the high comedy of Munnabhai MBBS, the high drama of Maqbool, and the high masala here, can apparently breathe fresh life into just about any genre). With a fierce commitment to illogic, they give everyone in the audience everything.
You want no-sense action? Here’s a chase where a cycle-rickshaw (named Dhanno, no less) outpaces a sleek mini-van. Looking for unadulterated corn, the 100% desi ghee variety? Watch a long-lost son entering maa’s house during a power cut (andhera, you know); as she approaches him, the lights come back on, the ujala is back in their lives. Over-the-over-the-top comedy is more your thing? No problem, there’s an absent-minded principal (a priceless Boman Irani), a saliva-spewing Physics teacher (Satish Shah, executing the best Matrix spoof ever) and an English-challenged Hindi teacher (Bindu, who, after witnessing Ram’s heroics, calls him ‘mack-oh man’). Simply seeking eye candy? That’s why the gorgeously staged song sequences – especially the title number – are there, making Anu Malik’s tunes appear much better than they really are.
Farah Khan seems genuinely fond of the movies and the music she’s digging into. She has Shah Rukh serenading Sushmita with RD Burman’s chand mera dil, but she doesn’t stop with just the stanzas. She makes desi mariachis appear out of nowhere just to strum the opening guitar riff, which everyone knows the song is incomplete without. She also gets a most relaxed, least mannered Shah Rukh performance by cutting down the s-s-sentiment in favour of action-comedy. Despite the title, this is no one-man show, and the actor generates terrific, almost-paternal vibes with both Zayed Khan (who looks something of an unruly clown, and is therefore perfect as the school’s unruly clown) and the perky, petite Amrita Rao.
As futile as it is to point out flaws – would you bother to analyse Amar Akbar Anthony or Naseeb? – the extended fight scenes do get tiresome, and things do slow down once the initial excitement of watching an old-style masala fades. Besides, the Indo-Pak angle lends an unnecessary air of pomposity to a film that otherwise has none. The rest of the time, if the term paisa vasool didn’t exist, it’d have to be coined for Main Hoon Na.
Copyright ©2004 The Economic Times: Madras Plus