Sunday, August 4, 2013

Henna (1991) - Review

Henna has a strong recall, stronger than most RK films, among my generation.

Henna can't be forgotten, for it was during this film that Indian cinema lost one of its most accomplished directors ever. Showman Raj Kapoor. The last full film he directed was Ram Teri Ganga Maili in 1985. The year I was born. He died three years later in '88.

I was 6 when Henna released but I remember watching it years later, with only a few visuals left of it in my head (the accident, the qawalli der na ho jaae, the beautiful locales) until this afternoon! Nostalgia took over, as I watched the film again today after so many years!

Back in those days, you wouldn't go out and buy every audio cassette. Owning one meant the music was a hit or atleast popular enough, unlike today, where you have the trashiest of songs downloaded into your devices. I vividly remember its cover picture on our cassette. Needless to say then, that Henna was the biggest musical hits of its time, courtesy Ravindra Jain, the composer and the ever-so-melodious Lata Mangeshkar adorning every song with her soulful voice, from der na ho jaae to main hoon khush rang heena to chittiye.

Henna is a quintessential love story of the 90s that's incomplete without tragedy, melodrama, action, an overemphatic climax and everything in between. Love overrides every emotion. Be it in its central theme of dealing with strained Indo-Pak relations or Henna's selfless love that knows no bounds. It's a love story of Chander (Rishi Kapoor) who meets with an accident on the day of his engagement. Of Chandni (Ashwini Bhave), whose lover goes missing, leaving no hope to return ever again. Of doe-eyed Henna (Zeba Bakhtiar) whose life barely counts when it comes to love. It's heart-warming to see how her love for Chand blossoms. It's not in-you-face yet it's evident she is head-over-heels in love. That the director captures it with such innocence and subtlety, makes it even more special. Unlike love stories today, there is no place for ego, jealousy, anger, contempt here. Henna draws you into its world, keeping you hooked almost throughout. My only problem was with the lengthy songs, and a slightly stretched-out second half.

The film gets a beautiful closure, with an anything-but-subtle climax but I like how the director chooses not to focus on lovers reuniting.

Cinematographically, its a treat. It was like a watching a Yash Chopra film of those days. The Pakistan part of the film was actually shot in Austria. If you thought Switzerland was the most beautiful place in the world, think again. I say that not just because of what I saw in the film but because I have seen it with my own eyes (*-*)

All performances in the film are to watch out for - Zeba Bakhtiar, Rishi Kapoor, Ashwini Bhave, Saeed Jaffrey, Farida Jalal, Raza Murad, Reema Lagoo.

If you fancy the idea of love that is typically Bollywood, you can't miss this one!

Have you seen Henna? How did you like the film? I want to hear from you in the comments below!

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