Dulha Mil Gaya: I Watched It So You Don’t Have To!

Thank goodness for Netflix!  I can get this movie on DVD and watch it at double-speed and finally check it off my Shahrukh list.  Without all the pain of actually paying for it, even as an individual rental.

You know, this isn’t that bad of a movie!  Okay, it is that bad of a movie.  But it didn’t have to be.  Like Happy Bhaag Jayegi, it’s one I watch and think “boy, a little more promotions, a slightly better cast, a little more time in post-production, this could have really been something!” (also, I am a GENIUS! I hadn’t looked up the crew yet, but turns out it actually had the same writer/director as HBJ!)

Going off on a minor tangent for a moment, you know the whole Kangana and Karan row?  Where he argued that he can’t be the flag-bearer for nepotism because he has launched so many unconnected directors and writers?  This is why that is so important!  This movie has a great idea at the center of it.  A nice simple hook to it and some interesting twists to the characters.

But then it got no money so the execution had to be stripped down and down and down until almost nothing was left but the little kernel of an idea.  Well, and the casting.  Sushmita Sen and Shahrukh are just about the perfect dream cast for this.  Ishita Sharma isn’t bad (and if you haven’t seen her first film, Loins of Punjab, you MUST!!!!  It’s on Netflix and Amazon and it is brilliant and hilarious and touching and wonderful).  And Fardeen Khan tries his best.  But neither of them really have the look or the star power required for their roles.

Recast this movie with, say, Amrita Rao and John Abraham as the younger couple, keep Sush and Shahrukh but expand their roles (because you’ve got the money to do a flashback sequence with Sush and to get Shahrukh to do more than an extended cameo), and keep the central idea of couples learning to respect each other and be themselves, and it could have been a nice little sleeper hit, one of those movies you run across on TV and think “yeah, I’ll watch this again!”

I guess I’ll go ahead and do SPOILERS now?  Even though  this is another “not really a real review” kind of post?  And really, you should feel free to read the SPOILERS part even if you don’t usually, this plot is soooooooooooooo predictable.

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Sushmita is a famous supermodel, “Shimmer”.  She has a little family around her, Jasmine her assistant, and Lotus, her effeminate white male assistant.  And sometimes Jigar, a young male dancer at her favorite club.  All of the characters in this film are great, it feels like the script had a really good handle on who they were and where they came from.  If only the dialogue and directing had lived up to that.

Sushmita is the center of the whole film, which is remarkable all on its own, having an older successful single woman as the heart of the film.  She is the center of everyone around her too.  Not because she is selfish and self-centered, but because she is so unselfish, if that makes sense?  Always trying to use her abilities to improve their lives, giving of herself.

Right, so, Sush is a supermodel.  And one of her best friends is Fardeen, a very wealthy orphan playboy.  He always has beautiful women throwing themselves at him, but he never gets serious with any of them.  But then he is reminded that his father (who really looks like Raj Kapoor in his portrait in Fardeen’s office!  Odd, since it would be such a great opportunity to use a portrait of his real life father Feroz Khan!) had arranged his marriage with a girl from back in their Punjab village.

And then we meet our third lead, innocent Punjabi village girl Ishita Sharma.  She is all sweetly excited about her groom coming and happy to meet him and all that, even when it becomes clear that they have nothing in common.  And then they have a registry marriage, and he leaves immediately, leaving her back there with her aunt and uncle.

Ishita is determined and goes to find him, climbing the wall to get into his mansion and then being thrown out by the guards, which is when Sushmita finds her and brings her home.  And we have one of the few real good character moments of the film, when Jasmine finds Sush staying up alone late that night, and Sush confesses that once she was an awkward 14 year old girl alone in the city, and she had to turn herself into Shimmer.  And now she wants to help this other girl who reminds her of herself so she doesn’t have to go through that.

Blah blah, Ishita gets a make over, they surprise Fardeen with her as the “new supermodel” in town, Fardeen gets obsessed with her just as Sush planned, all of this is expected.  Well, except for how Sush isn’t just some shallow supermodel, but a warmhearted woman who fought her way up to a position of power and now tries to use her power to protect and help others.

But, twist!  One hour and 13 minutes in right after the title song (in case you are wondering), we have our first Shahrukh sighting!  Sush is home alone late at night and calls someone on the phone.  We see his mouth and hear his Shahrukh voice but it’s not much of a conversation and we never actually see his face.

Then, one hour and 36 minutes in right at the end of the “Aaja Aaja Mere Ranjhna” song, his real entry!  Which includes a little meta joke when he says something about he made a late entrance so we would appreciate him more or something like that.

Even if this character weren’t played by Shahrukh, it would be fascinating!  The idea is that he is a super wealthy and important businessman, but he is completely in love with Sushmita and always willing to drop everything for her.  But his love isn’t reciprocated in the same way, she seems to enjoy him and says she loves him, but also never notices when he is there or not, never seems to “need” him.

What makes the character more interesting is that he has a strange dignity to him.  He is kind and wise and understanding to everybody.  He isn’t just some figure of fun in love with a woman who doesn’t want him.  Beyond making this a more interesting character, it also leads to a more interesting statement in the film.  There is nothing wrong with being in love, with giving up your “pride”.  And with dropping all your armor and pretense and just being yourself in your love.

That’s the lesson Shahrukh has to teach each of the other characters.  Oh, and going back to the Shahrukh watch, he is present off and on for most of the rest of the movie.  But the key times are One Hour and 48 Minutes, Two Hours and 9 Minutes, Two Hours and 18 Minutes.

 

Anyway, plotwise, Shahrukh gently encourages Fardeen to be himself and be open if he wants to get close to this new model he is obsessed with.  But he also, by example, shows Ishita that she doesn’t want to play the game Sush is teaching her any more.  Sush herself is wonderful and kind and caring, but incapable of admitting her own love for Shahrukh, and Ishita doesn’t want to be like that, so she decides to be herself and tell Fardeen the truth.  And in the end, after this confrontation with Ishita, Sush realizes that she is in love and rushes off to find Shahrukh and propose.

The Ishita and Fardeen resolution is sweet too, she goes to meet him ready to tell the truth, but before she can talk, he admits that he is in love with her, but can’t be with her because he is married.  And he has realized that he needs to respect that relationship and fulfill his promise to his bride.  At which point Ishita starts a conversation similar to the one they had at their first meeting, and Fardeen finally recognizes her.

See, this whole thing is so nice!  Shahrukh’s strong man unashamed to be in love, Sushmita’s strong woman who takes care of others but won’t let herself be taken care of, even Fardeen realizing on his own that he needs to do right by his wife, and Ishita realizing that none of this matters if he doesn’t love her for who she really is, it’s all great ideas!  Just hidden inside of this terrible terrible covering.

Oh, and then the end credits card says “Say Yes to a Relationship” which is I guess the main point of the film, not to be afraid to admit you are in love and give over entirely to another person.  Followed by the real main point of the film as it as finally produced and released, “We Love You SRK”.  Because you know the only reason this thing even made back half it’s budget is that Shahrukh stepped in at the last minute and agreed to do a few appearances and a little song.

(Listen and watch closely, there are shoutouts to a lot of his previous roles)

Oh, and if you are watching this just for the Shahrukh of it all, make sure to watch the end credits, they have another mini-song and fun blooper scenes.

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5 thoughts on “Dulha Mil Gaya: I Watched It So You Don’t Have To!

  1. I saw this early in my “career” as a Hindi film watcher and was SO thrilled to have gotten the references. Doesn’t this make you wish, though that Shah Rukh would do a film with Sushmita (or Juhi or Madhuri or Vidya) I am so sad that he keeps saying, “All they cast me with is the young girls.” He could make this happen and it would be so great.

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    • Well, at least he managed to get Mahira for Raees! Which turned into a nightmare for all sorts of reasons. Has the dwarf movie heroine been finalized yet? I know it’s Anushka next, but at least with Imtiaz Ali I have some faith in the age difference being written into the script and important to the film.

      Oh, and my dream co-star for him is Tabu! In the director’s commentary for OSO, Farah points out their chemistry during the title song, and she’s right! they are great together. Saathiya was nice, but we need more!

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  2. Pingback: Hindi Film 101: Nepotism in the Hindi Film Industry, Part 2 – dontcallitbollywood

  3. Pingback: Hindi Film 101: Shahrukh’s Filmography Continues! Where Do You Go When You Reach the Top? | dontcallitbollywood

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