If you believe that the ones you love should, after they die, be buried under a tree so that they can welcome you with petal showers every time you pass by, then Sanam Teri Kasam is the movie for you. This isn’t a diss, exactly. It’s what it is. It’s like saying Psycho is for people who have the stomach for bathtub murders – without that stomach, you’d be vomiting in the aisles. The film tells the story of Saraswati Parthasarathy (Mawra Hocane), who’s first seen drawing a kolam outside her flat, humming along with MS Subbulakshmi’s Suprabhatam. A little streak of ash sits at the centre of her forehead. You’re thinking Tam-Brahm, right? But she calls her father nana and her mother addresses him as yevandi. This is, we discover, a Telugu household, and an extremely orthodox one. Translation: they disapprove of the boy downstairs (Inder, played by Harshvardhan Rane). He has girls stay over. He has tattoos. He hates shirts. (Rane’s performance is essentially one long plea to the awards committees to institute a Best Supporting Nipples category.)
Saraswati Parthasarathy wears big, dorky glasses and works in a library. (Had her name been Lakshmi, she’d have worked in a bank. This is that kind of movie.) But she yearns for a different life. How do we know this? By the book of Rumi’s love poetry in her hand, even as her father (Manish Choudhari) thunders, “Isse IQ nahin badhega.” (Wonder what he’d say about this movie.) Fast forward a bit, and Ugly Duckling meets Prince Charming. The meet-cute happens in an elevator, and she’s in a bear costume. (Long story.) The power goes off. The elevator comes to a halt. It turns hot. Inder takes his shirt off. He’s about take his pants off, when Saraswati Parthasarathy screams. He zips up in shock, having clearly been taught that while it’s perfectly okay to take your clothes off in public in the presence of a bear, it’s not okay to do so when it’s a girl. That’s the third hint that we’re in fairy-tale territory. The bear. As in, Goldilocks.
Inder has a traumatic past. Saraswati Parthasarathy has a traumatic present. Quite naturally, they fall in love. Inder takes her to Vijay Raaz, who plays Fairy Godmother – he gives Saraswati Parthasarathy a makeover. In a deeply symbolic scene, we see her father performing funeral rites for her – the minute he saw her with Inder, he declares that she’s dead. The rites make sense, for the older Saraswati Parthasarathy is dead. Now, she’s reborn. She’s a brand new person. We know this because she loses her glasses and gets contact lenses. I didn’t mind this character. She has spunk. After seeing her father at that funeral, she tells Inder she isn’t going to commit suicide and waste this pretty face he’s given her. And after she’s dumped by a colleague, on the day they were going to get married, she asks Inder why he didn’t hit the loser. Later, she checks into the honeymoon suite. She’s paid for it, after all. Why waste money?
The directors Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru are obviously eyeing the Valentine’s Day crowd, but Sanam Teri Kasam is too old-fashioned. It’s a classical deathbed-weepie. You can imagine Meena Kumari in it, singing Lata Mangeshkar songs until the lamp flame is snuffed out by the wind. There’s even a sympathetic cop (Murli Sharma, in an Avtar Gill role) who keeps waving a gun but whose weapon of choice is really Cupid’s bow. What will today’s kids make of the scene in which Inder, unable to bear another man showering affection on Saraswati Parthasarathy, lowers his glass of wine and crushes it under the table? Mawra Hocane is an appealing performer, but she’s stuck in a story that goes on and on – after a point, the film seems to be unspooling in slow motion. I kept imagining Sanam Teri Kasam as a Mohit Suri movie. He’d have added a couple of lovemaking scenes and called it Aashiqui 3.
- sanam teri kasam = I love you… or whatever…
Copyright ©2016 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.