Tuesday, January 27, 2009

[DVD] Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008)

Romance 1: You Ain't Heavy

The thing with Bollywood romances, you can bet your last dollar for the inclusion of picturesque landscapes where the lovers profess their emotions for each other, nevermind if most times they seem to be suddenly transported between locations and somethings across borders. In this one it had it all figured out, since the change in locales were worked into the story. Like a James Bond film, Bachna Ae Haseeno takes place in no less than 4 countries - Switzerland, India, Italy and Australia, and provides the perfect backdrop for a Casanova character romancing three lovely ladies only to discover the ills of his ways.

Ranbir Kapoor in his debut leading man role as Ranbir in Saawariya, didn't have the luck to snag the lady of his dreams, maybe because he was kind of a cad too, where karma had a part to return and haunt him. In his second feature film here, his Raj Sharma is again a cad, and credits himself being a "lady killer", able to woo any woman when he turns on his charms. We journey with him as he learns the true meaning of romance and love, and the first half of the movie before the intermission, gives the audience three situations over the course of 11 years where he toys with the emotions of different girls, broadly the sweet, sexy and sassy type, until of course, Karma catches up with him again for that all important lesson.

Girl 1: Sweet. 1996. Switzerland. In what would seem like a Before Sunrise storyline, Raj meets Mahi (Minissha Lamba) on board a Euro-train, and engineers his way to be able to spend time alone with his mark, on the pretext of sending her to Zurich to reunite with her family for their trip back to India. This episode sets the stage for Raj as the manipulative casanova, while Mahi is a very girly girl who harbours dreams of that perfect man, the perfect romantic encounter, and that perfect romance coming out just like her favourite movie. Only to discover that her puppy love, with sweet nothings and dedicated poems, resulted to naught when Raj's game is exposed. Broken Heart 1.

Romance 2: Goodbye

Girl 2: Sexy. 2002. Mumbai. Raj seemed to have moved on to another target, though it may seem from the onset he's already been domesticated by Radhika (Bipasha Basu from Dhoom 2), a hot model and aspiring actress who's his neighbour and they're living in together. Raj would have thought that a woman like her, stereotyped of course, would be easy and loose, living the fast life, and wouldn't want to be tied down to marriage because it will hamper her career. So when an opportunity to work in Sydney comes knocking and presents itself as a perfect moment to ditch her, to his surprise Radhika contemplates marriage, which he tries wholeheartedly to avoid. She's willing to sacrifice her career for him, but suffers the unthinkable in being left at the altar. Broken Heart 2.

Girl 3: Sassy. 2007. Sydney. It's actually quite a no-brainer to cast Deepika Padukone here given that she too, like Ranbir Kapoor, had 1 feature film under her belt, and are relatively successful newcomers to the industry (her first effort was in Om Shanti Om, and more recently, Chandni Chowk to China). And (ok Gossipy news ahead) this film actually was the catalyst for their much touted romance (and you can see the dynamics at work with some of the behind the scenes and interviews included in the 2nd disc). Anyway her role here as Gayatri, a business school student who works her way through school as a supermarket check out girl and a taxi driver, impresses Raj a lot, enough to romance her in Venice, and give up his gallivanting ways. Only of course for him to have met his match, and got spurned on his marriage proposal. She's a modern girl wanting to live life on her own terms, so being someone else's wife has never featured in her plans. What goes around finally comes around. Broken Heart 3. Raj's.

While the first half of the movie before the intermission was pretty plain sailing romantic stuff, the second half proved to be more powerful, because the protagonist finally has his eyes opened by his new experience, and realized he's been quite a bastard. So off he goes to make amends with the girls whose hearts he had broken, and mind you, in both real and reel life, this is never easy. Especially when you have to go back and face the women who had one point in time truly love you, and your actions had single handedly destroyed their belief in romance, and change or scar them for life.

Romance 3: Don't Leave

We get a lot more jet-setting as well, all worked into the plot, such as the visits to Amritsar, Capri and Rome, as we follow Raj on his mission impossible to seek redemption and forgiveness from a housewife with a protective husband, and another who's now a renowned model and not surprisingly, mega-bitch with success to her head. I had enjoyed this section more because trying his best to be honest now, Raj has to strip his ego and really crack his head to device his forgiveness plan. Also, we get to see the different demeanours that both Bipasha Basu and Minissha Lamba had to tackle given their characters' failed romance with Raj, which had changed them either for the better, or worse.

One of the gripes I have, would be the Gayatri arc. It does seem a tad bit convenient to have it all wrapped up quite effortlessly, and given how he had been punished by the previous two encounters, this one seemed rather tame, especially when it seemed a little too chauvinistic a view. While the other two girls had grown and matured in their life, I thought Gayatri actually took a leap back in her rather progressive and independent ways, but then again, this isn't meant to be a tragedy.

The songs here proved to be catchy and fitting to each of the sweet, sexy and sassy persona that the girls bring to the table, and the beautiful locales they were shot in again were draws. Other than the very first musical number Bachna Ae Haseeno which opens the film, you don't get to see everybody on the same scene together, as each storyline took place under mutually exclusive terms, in timeline as well as locations.

If there's something to take away from the film, then it's the lesson that Raj learns, with the past being over and there's no longer control over it, but we can rectify things for the future if we take action in the present. Call me a sentimental fool, but somehow this works on me.

The Region Free set by Yash Raj Films Home Entertainment comes in a 2-disc edition.

Disc 1 contains the film proper, and some Forthcoming Attractions auto play when the disc pops into the player, with trailers for Dostana and Roadside Romeo, in addition to some anti-piracy messages which was quite hilarious since there were clips from various movies used and voiceovers added to mouth the message. Hmm.

Visual transfer for Disc 1 is pristine and in the anamorphic widescreen format, with audio available in either Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1. Subtitles are available in English, Arabic, Tamil and Malayalam, and Scene Selection is available over 24 chapters. The only extras bundled here are the Songs with the play all function, for all 6 tracks featured in the movie - Bachna Ae Haseeno, Ahista Aahista, Khuda Jaane, Jogi Mahi, Lucky Boy and Small Town Girl.

Disc 2 is presented in a 4x3 letterbox format, and contains the same Forthcoming Attractions in Disc 1. Before proceeding any further, there are spoilers ahead in some of the features description, so here's the cursory warning before proceeding.

A standard feature of extra discs, The Making of the Film (23:36) contains the usual cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes look at the production, where problems get discussed, such as the near drowning of Ranbir Kapoor due to an overzealous Aussie extra. Curiously though, most of the content here focused on the making of the songs in the movie, which is also included in this disc.

The Making of the Songs demonstrate that it is never easy choreographing and filming these musical numbers, especially the more exotic the locations are, the more issues there will be to address, and we get to see some behind the scenes clips to 4 of the songs in the film, with interviews with the cast and crew members involved. Khuda Jaane (3:31) would be nice for those wanting a peek into the real life dynamics between Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, Lucky Boy (4:24) is a Bipasha Basu hot number to exploit her sexy persona, Aahista Aahista (4:15) had both Minissha Lamba and Ranbir battle the cold weather, and Bachna Ae Haseeno (4:34) the opening number that had featured all the principle cast and that special effects employed for the change of Ranbir's outfits, was actually a tribute remix of the song featured in the film Hum Kisise Kum Naheen.

Deleted Scenes (total 9:47) come without subtitles or explanations why they were left out, and doesn't have any subtitles. Included here are the scene descriptions of Raj and Sachin are Jumping like Excited Kids, Sachin Asks Raj which Car to Buy, and the longest scene here, which is actually the alternate ending titled Gayatri Finally Agrees to Marry Raj was thankfully left out not because it was less comedic, but because it was very one sided in the way the reconciliation took place, seemingly coming solely from Gayatri's perspective, but I guess had to take its unceremonious snip because of the "you complete me" cliche line which totally spoils it.

While the Bachna Ae Haseeno Music Video (3:21) is the same as that included in Disc 1, but without subtitles, I thought the Bachna Ae Haseeno Zoom Special (38:20) was the real value in this disc. It had Ranbir and the girls in a roundtable interview talk show where they talk about their characters, as well as plenty of personal anecdotes experienced on set, such as height differences settled with stools and sandbags, and the usage of hot water bottles to conquer the weather. Look out too for the "cat-fight" between all three girls! But nothing beats Bipasu being the live-wire here, ribbing Deepika and Ranbir all the time about their real-life romance.

There are a number of promotional clips included in the Theatrical Trailer & Promos section, which doesn't come with subtitles. While there's only one Theatrical Trailer (1:02) and one Dialogue Promo (1:00), the Ranbir and Deepika angle got played up a lot and have a total of 3 clips from their Khuda Jaane clip (1:00, 0:30, 0:30). Bipasha Basu had her hot number Lucky Boy included, while both Aahista Aahista and Bachna Ae Haseeno had two each, each lasting about 0:30.

The Photo Gallery gets split into Posters (5, autoplays over 24 seconds), Movie Stills (35, over 2:54) and Working Stills (also 35, over 2:54).

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