Just for the joy of it, I am going to write about Tum Mere Ho, potentially the worst movie Aamir has ever been in. One of those movies that it feels like the producer ran out of money so they just stopped filming and called it “the end”. I’m sure I will figure out a way that it relates to Dangal, but mostly just want to remind us all that Aamir has a past before his “great actor” period.
First, probably better than anything I can say about this movie is the “Pretentious Movie Review” video about it on youtube.
I love these guys! Who have both now graduated to “real” movies and so may not be doing any more youtube videos (booo!).
But I really love them for confirming that this movie actually existed and I didn’t hallucinate it. I watched it back before my favorite movie store/rental place closed. They had shelves and shelves of DVDs, and would let me browse! I didn’t have to ask specifically and have the guy dig it out for me from behind the counter. I loved that place!
Every Friday in college I would finish class and then hope the bus to the train to the other bus to the Indian neighborhood, and then browse and browse and browse and get a whole stack of DVDs to take home and watch over the next two days. And then on Sunday I would get back on the bus to the train to the bus and return them all.
Following this system, I saw a lot of movies in a very short amount of time. And not all of them were the greatest. But of all the “not the greatest” movies I saw, Tum Mere Ho stood out as really really not the greatest. In fact, it was possibly “the worst”. Well, second to worst, the real worst was of course Bal Brahmachari.
(“Dayo dayo, bum ba bum ba ba bo!”)
The thing about Tum Mere Ho is that it is the kind of jigsaw puzzle movie of elements that worked in other movies that most actors have to suffer through when they are starting out. There’s Aamir and Juhi, trying to work on that young love angle and hit jodi from Qayamet Se Qayamet Tak, and the whole snake thing from Nagini, plus some random gypsies thrown in, because gypsies are always good, and a childhood marriage/engagement, because that’s always nice too.
Only instead of all these elements coming together naturally and making a great whole, they are all randomly thrown together with an assumption that somehow everything that is good separately will be good together. Kind like if you mixed bacon and whipped cream and pizza.
Oh, and also Aamir, the “gypsy”, wears huge desert boots the whole time with really thick soles and a little heel. So he will actually be taller than his co-stars. That’s also not the greatest. And the incredibly regressive attitude towards child widows, also not great. I don’t mind the snake part of it, that’s just common sense, female snakes can change into grown women as needed and male snakes have diamonds.
(So far as I am concerned, a Nagin storyline is only worth it if you have Sridevi to do a dance)
Let’s see, what does this have to do with Dangal? I guess just how the industry has changed. Back in the day, when Aamir was just starting out, there was no big plan and no rehearsal time and no careful promotional plan, it was just hitting the ground running with film after film after film, and some work and some don’t.
More than that, you work in some films and you don’t in others. Aamir’s acting in this movie is…..appropriate? That is to say, not a lot of work put into it. Definite feeling of “I showed up on set half asleep from working 20 hour days, they threw some kind of clothes on me, handed me my lines, and told me ‘angry’ or ‘scared’ or ‘in love’.” But in that same era, he was doing QSQT and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander where he was actually putting in time to building a character and practicing lines and all that stuff.
And he’s the hero! Which means poor Juhi was even worse off. Even younger for one thing. Her birth year has mysteriously disappeared off of wikipedia, but I remember she was supposed to be 16 in QSQT, which means she would have been around 18 for this movie. 18 years old, told to run around and scream and get slapped and generally act nutty, with no real character background or personality.
And she ends up doing better than Aamir! I really believed all her hysterics and her falling in love and all of that. But it doesn’t matter how good Juhi is and how much I believe in her character, because she is just the heroine, so she doesn’t get all the good scenes and story and all that.
What makes this even more remarkable is that it was produced and directed by his own father! But back then, having your father produce a movie didn’t mean you got a good part, or even a lot of money put into the film. It was just the same random b-movie you might get any other place. And it wasn’t necessarily that his father didn’t care, it was that it wasn’t as obvious what to do even if you did care. There just wasn’t a template in place for giving someone a really good film of the kind we get now.
Sure, there’s QSQT, but even that was a good script given to a first time director and two first time stars, and then it struck gold. It wasn’t the kind of massive budget production that Hrithik got a few years later. And it also wasn’t the kind of slow launch with a lot of training and a long term planning like Harshvardhan Kapoor got earlier this year. People weren’t so much launched, as just kind of tossed in the water and told to paddle as fast as they could.
And now here we are 26 years later and there are two new heroines being launched, in their early 20s instead of as teenagers, with lots of support and training and script backing and everything else they might need. Aamir is paying it forward by helping over actors avoid that nightmarish launch he had to go through, acting opposite snakes and black magicians and all sorts of things.