Pathfinder // 2000 // 150 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart // January 19th, 2006
"Wow! She looks very beautiful. I suggest you enlarge this picture and
put it on that wall. And as Shahjahan used to see the Taj Mahal, you should look
-- some advice from a friend to Kabir (Abhishek Bachchan) about a photo of him with Pooja (Kirti Reddy).
If you want to try something fun, look up Picture Perfect under DVDs at Amazon.com. Alert Web surfers will notice how much the DVD cases of two movies under the title -- one with Jennifer Aniston and one with Kirti Reddy -- look alike. In each case, the smiling actress is at right with photos shown at left. The similarities are picture perfect, huh? Pathfinder Home Video is stressing the similarities, because the Bollywood picture is a remake of Aniston's Picture Perfect. Clever, huh?
You may already have heard this one, for obvious reasons, but let's give you the plot summary anyway: When we first meet Pooja, she's accepting a film award in front of a huge crowd. Suddenly she trips and begins to fall...
Of course, it's a dream (that'll come true later, since there's Bollywood magic afoot). She awakens, having fallen on the floor, and discovers that she's late for work. Again, as her co-workers note. How will the Chief (Kader Khan, who with 268 movies listed on IMDb seems to be setting a modern record) react? "I think he will kill her," co-worker Maggi (popular Indian comedian Johny Lever) says. Actually, he lets her live -- for now -- since there's a meeting. Here, we see that Pooja's an assistant at an ad agency that's working on a campaign for the D.C. Alfa car. The boss loves her idea, delivered with an enthusiasm that hints at a song-and-dance number (which we don't get at this point). But she still doesn't get to direct the commercial, because her seniors want to "refine" the idea into something they can take credit for.
Besides, Pooja has something else on her agenda -- a friend's wedding in Agra. Here she meets Kabir, who very obviously likes Pooja, showering petals on her instead of the actual bride, taking her on a tour of the Taj Mahal, and rushing to the train station on horseback to see her one last time. Pooja, though, wants to just stay friends.
Pooja returns to Mumbai, where's she's about to be fired -- again. Maggi tells the boss she's engaged, showing the pics that suggest she's got a beau back at the Taj for proof. Problem solved, except for one thing. The boss's son Raj (Sanjay Suri) has joined the company, and Pooja has fallen for him. Make that two things, since Kabir has made the trip to Mumbai to win her over.
Even if you haven't seen Aniston's Picture Perfect, you won't have too much trouble following this one (originally titled Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa). It's slightly more natural than previous Bollywood films I've seen, centering most of its numbers around weddings, celebrations, and the music career of Kabir. There's action here, since Bachchan is quick with a fist, but a couple of the fight scenes don't mesh too well with the story. Yes, we eventually get the meeting room song-and-dance number, in which Pooja pitches an ad idea in song, with Maggi as backup. But director A. Muthu makes it a brief moment, passing on a natural chance for a big set piece.
The dialogue is in a mix of Hindi and English, so that all key plot points are touched upon in both languages. Which is a good thing, because the subtitles are too light in quite a few places, and spotty altogether on the musical numbers. The first two numbers didn't have any subtitles at all, which meant that I was thinking "Who the heck is this guy?" when Kabir was first introduced in a song-and-dance number. While I figured it out anyway, I'd still like to see a better job on the subtitling. (A certain huge Indian city was named inconsistently as both "Bombay" and "Mumbai" as well.)
Kirti Reddy gives a sweet performance as Pooja, with good reactions in scenes such as the one in which she first sees Kabir in a Mumbai hospital and gasps, with her boss present. He thinks she's shocked to see her fiancé injured, but Pooja's really shocked to see him at all! Within the broad style of Bollywood, Abhishek Bachchan gives a relatively natural performance as Kabir, seeming more or less real, even as he boasts, "Agra is famous for two things," the Taj Mahal and himself. Johny Lever and Kader Khan aren't subtle or real, but they're fun in comic roles.
The transfer is decent, showing off the brightly-colored clothing and sets that are Bollywood staples. It mostly avoids washed-out exteriors, but a few scenes at the Taj Mahal kind of look like bluescreen work to my cynical reviewer's mind. I couldn't find whether the sound is Dolby Digital or not, but I had no problems with the sound.
This typical Bollywood entry generally delivers on its promise of a chaste boy-meets-girl story with elaborate musical numbers, although I was disappointed in a couple of places when it looked like song and dance might break out but did not. According to Planet Bollywood, it didn't make a huge impression on audiences in India in 2000. Oh, well...
It's not picture perfect, but it's not guilty, although Pathfinder should fix up the subtitles for future editions. Mumbai's the word, guys.
Review content copyright © 2006 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (Hindi)
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Song Selection
* Planet Bollywood