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Mehbooba (2008)

3.9
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Ratings: 3.9/10 from 204 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 2 critic

After dreaming of a beautiful girl for over 8 years, Budapest-based but born in Rajasthan, Karan, finally gets to meet her in the shape and form of Varsha, who happens to be the foster ... See full summary »

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(additional screenplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Title: Mehbooba (2008)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Shravan 'S.D.' Dhariwal
...
Varsha / Payal
...
Karan
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Asrani ...
Karan's Mamaji
Poornima Bhave ...
(as Purnima Bhave)
Bindu ...
Karan's aunt
Sanober Kabir ...
Singer / Dancer
...
Hari Singh / Lal Singh
Kader Khan ...
Advocate Sahid (as Kadar Khan)
Mushtaq Khan
Razak Khan
Shashi Kiran
Reema Lagoo ...
Karan's mom
Tirlok Malik ...
Malik
Suman Ranganathan ...
Edit

Storyline

After dreaming of a beautiful girl for over 8 years, Budapest-based but born in Rajasthan, Karan, finally gets to meet her in the shape and form of Varsha, who happens to be the foster daughter of his lawyer, Sahid. Karan is confident that Sahid will convince Varsha to marry him - little knowing that Varsha will not only refuse to marry but she also hates men, and had a parallel New York-based lifestyle as Payal Mehra. Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

11 July 2008 (India)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was in cans for 10 years, It started in 1999 and released in 2008. See more »

Goofs

Sanjay has a black hairstyle towards the end but suddenly in between it changes to brown hair. See more »

Soundtracks

Kuch Kar Lo - II
Written by Anand Bakshi
Composed by Ismail Darbar
Performed by Kavita Krishnamurthy and Shankar Mahadevan
Courtesy of Super Cassettes Industries Limited (T-Series)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
It Must Be Frustrating When You Know How To Act . . .
25 August 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If you were around in the 1920s and 30s you might have read what were commonly referred to as "Modern Morality Plays." These were basically extensions of medieval plays in which the main character (generally a young woman) was punished for attempting to legitimize a blatant violation of social norms. A typical story might be a young woman in WWI era America trying to live life independent of marriage, motherhood, or patriarchal social customs. She would try to survive, suffer in the process, and ultimately die or be outcasted from the town in which she lived, torch-wielding villagers and all.

That was then. Today (in the post-feminist 21st century) moral standards are decidedly different. But what hasn't changed is our desire to punish those who violate them.

Case in point: Afzal Khan's "Mehbooba", a much-delayed and surprisingly anti-patriarchal love story from the House of Bollywood.

"Mehbooba", as it were, translates to "female beloved" who in this case is Varsha, played by Manisha Koirala, one of India's finest dramatic actresses who not so long ago (i.e. Pre-Aishwarya Age Bollywood) was one of the nation's leading marquee attractions.

But she isn't the one who violates social norms in Khan's film; rather, it is the treacherous chauvinist Shravan (Sanjay Dutt) who spends his days and nights informing women that they are to be used and discarded for his sexual pleasure as he wills. All of this takes place in New York because of course women are always respected within India's borders . . . (ahem, ahem).

Varsha becomes of one of his victims, except that she doesn't go as quietly as the others. She curses him, leaves the country, changes her name to Payal, and heads to Budapest where she meets the charming and gentle Karan (Ajay Devgan) who thinks she is the woman of his dreams.

She eschews his advances, informing him that she doesn't trust men having lost her virginity to a misogynistic snake. Karan tells her it he doesn't care about her past; at last she relents, becomes his fiancée, and they are united.

Sort of.

Since this is Bollywood, she must of course go to Karan's home in India (where he apparently lives in a government palace) and receive the blessings of his astrologically inclined mother. Karan leaves first, arriving home to his family and an elder brother who turns out to be (zoinks!) Shravan. Cue the bombastic background music.

What happens next? Shravan, it seems, has turned a leaf and now deeply regrets the pain he caused Varsha and spends his nights drinking and playing the piano a la Rishi Kapoor in every film he made in the 90s. He professes (incredulously) that he loves Varsha and that she is the greatest specimen of femininity on the planet. Karan counters, professing his Payal is the greatest specimen of femininity on the planet. Sibling rivalry and ribbing turns into melodramatic irony as the audience knows they are unwittingly talking about the same woman.

At this point, Payal/Varsha returns . . . and thus the unraveling and punishment of Shravan begins. Several twists and turns later, the film reminds us that when you disrespect a respectable Indian (or Nepalese) woman, prepare yourself for ugly (and fierce) retribution.

The film borrows heavily from Bhansalli's puerile "Hum Dil Dechuke Sanam", not just in terms of characterization (Dutt plays an extremist version of Salman Khan's cad, Devgan is back as the knight in corduroy armor), but in terms of structure as well – the story spans three continents, involves a once happy-go-lucky girl understanding the unhappiness of relationships, and comes to center around a typically large extended family prone to celebrating all things Hindu, signing and dancing throughout.

In all, "Mehbooba" is pretty standard Bollywood melodrama. If there's any reason to watch, it's Manisha Koirala. This is definitely not her best or most interesting work – for an actress who's built a resume of offbeat and non-romantic roles, including starkly brilliant performances in films like "Dil Se", "Khamoshi", "Bombay" and "1942 A Love Story", "Mehbooba" is very middle-of the-road. She's very well presented and seems at ease in the chic getups, though not particularly interested in the emotional swell that surrounds her. One may even argue that she's the one Bollywood performer who looks better without makeup than with. But such superficial evaluations are exactly what she's not (and has never) been about.

Several actresses, including Karishma Kapoor, Urmila Matondkar, and Kajol vied for this typically glamorous role, but Khan went with Koirala. One wonders why. Her role in "Mehbooba" is the film's central one, but it doesn't provide her the kind of structure she requires to shine. It is yet another reminder that her talent far exceeds what mainstream Bollywood offers her to play. Surely Tabu, Urmila, and Manoj Bajpai will concur (with frustration).

Hopefully, bolder filmmakers will cast her in more complex and interesting roles. Wot say, Deepa Mehta?


1 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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