Ajab Prem Ki Blah Kahani

08 Nov

Rajkumar Santoshi did a terrible thing in the 1990s – he directed a much beloved movie called Andaz Apna Apna. Unlike his other great successes (primarily the two Sunny Deol-vehicles Ghayal and Damini), AAA was a madcap comedy starring two Khanicons in their youth that managed to attain cult status, with audiences paying it the ultimate compliment by turning its dialogues into oft-quoted bits of Bollywood hilarity.

Possibly Santoshi knew what he’d done because he wisely eschewed the genre altogether for the next fifteen years and saved himself the aggravation of endless comparisons. Until now.

Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani is the story of an odd duck called Prem (Ranbir Kapoor) with an affinity for trouble who falls for a girl named Jenny (Katrina Kaif) who is nothing but trouble.

The movie gets off to a flying start (literally) as Prem foils the nefarious plans of an evildoer who is only missing the black-and-white striped uniform and diamond-shaped half mask of the true cartoon villain. In a matter of minutes we learn that Prem isn’t given to vainglory, isn’t the sharpest tool in the box, is well known in the community and is the President of The Happy Club – a sort of bolthole-cum-revenue generator for him and his do-nothing friends that occasionally supplies them with, er, opportunities for social work shall we say? Like when they help out a fellow member by kidnapping his married girlfriend for him.

And so they bump into the beauteous Jenny, who is everything that Prem is not. She’s from a different religion, she is educated, she is “class” as his friends put it, while poor ol’ Prem is an amiable dimwit who spends all his time figuring out ways to get out of work. The only thing they have in common, really, is their shared habit of stammering when upset. Of course he falls for her like a ton of bricks.

The result is predictable and about as exciting as watching a toddler add up single digits. A whole bunch of things keep happening that make you think – uh, so? And unfortunately for everybody concerned, the romance between Jenny and Prem is one of them. However, there are a couple of rays of sunshine:

Santoshi chooses to set his characters in a hyperverse that allows them to act in ways that might remind the faithful of the over-the-top antics of the characters that populated AAA (and leave them longing for the grace that is missing from this movie) but he actually manages to put it to good use occasionally. When Prem, for example, prompted into getting a job for love of Jenny where all his father’s recriminations went in vain, struts about his new workplace, he converts into a superhero. A rather shabby superhero perhaps but it’s a lovely little scene expressing the idea that love can move mountains – or put a kaamchor to work, which might be the more difficult task. And really, holding down a steady job that you don’t much care for is a lot more difficult than bouncing bullets off your rock hard alien chest, don’t you think?

Ranbir Kapoor (making me more and more accustomed by the film to hearing Rishi Kapoor’s voice come out through Neetu Singh’s face)  and Katrina Kaif (still gorgeous) are the two other good decisions Santoshi made for his movie – as long as they’re not asked to act overtly romantic, the two of them are pitch perfect. There is a gentle ease between Prem and Jenny that keeps the movie from drowning in its pitiful pleas for your ha-has. The scene in which we find out Jenny stammers the same as Prem is especially nice, with Katrina even managing to mine a certain amount of vulnerability.

There are a couple of other scenes – like the one in which Prem thinks it necessary to talk English to Jesus when he ducks into church after disappointing his parents yet again – that succeed in giving you a glimpse of the movie this could have been but Ajab Prem‘s Kahani never quite turns Ghazab for all the hot water he lands himself in.

For one thing it doesn’t seem able to make up its mind what it wants to do – is it strictly aiming for the gags or does it want to say something (“To thine own self be true”, etc?), that fatal flaw of the true blue Santoshi movie? Whatever the case may be, the end result is mostly forgettable and a lot less fun than it hopes to be.



Posted by on November 8, 2009 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video


19 responses to “Ajab Prem Ki Blah Kahani

  1. pitu

    November 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    You know, I have a cousin whose taste in movies and books is sooooo far from mine that I use her as an anti-radar. As in, if she loves a movie (Blue), I refuse to see it. If she hates a movie (Oye lucky) I decide to see it. She’s my own personal Taran Adarsh. But now that I’ve read your review, I am confused. I almost always agree with your reviews. Should I watch it/should I not watch it… Goddamit, life is so mcuh easier when other people make decisions for me :p

    • Amrita

      November 8, 2009 at 3:08 pm

      Lol, i have a best friend I use as anti-radar. Re: movie – Meh, it’s timepass. If you’ve nothing better to do this weekend and you like to watch either Kats or Ranbir, then this is the movie for you.

      • nsfw

        November 9, 2009 at 6:40 am

        re:anti-radar. Spot on! In fact the very fact that they are anti-radar is precisely why we make them our best friends.
        Confessition time: After marriage, you don’t need a anti-radar. 🙂

        • nsfw

          November 9, 2009 at 6:49 am

          And even though I haven’t seen the movie, I do think people’s normal expecation from RKS is to make old-school Bollywood with just enough of his personal whimsy/agenda to make it memorable. Even from your review, it looks like it delivers precisely that. 🙂

    • Amey

      November 9, 2009 at 4:14 pm

      What’s all this talk of aunty-radar? Does that keep you away from aunties trying to fix you up? Or is it for detecting the chattiest aunty circle in the movie hall and help you get a chat and crying-free seat?

  2. Srinivas

    November 8, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Wow…….you have been much much much kinder to the movie and Ranbir\Katrina\RKSantoshi than I could ever be

    It thought that it is just a major piece of BS and both these “actors” need to be driven out of the industry..Just to make myself clear 😉

    • Dipika

      November 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm

      My dad felt the same way. My mom dragged him to the movie, even though I had seen it the same day and called up as soon as it was over to warn him. He’s now boycotting all Ranbir/Katrina/RKSantoshi movies. The last time he had such an extreme reaction was Ishq!

  3. Rahul

    November 8, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    A small correction-Damini was so much of a Meenakshi Sesadri vehicle that there might have been space for Sunny to stick a foot in,but no more.

  4. sraboneyghose

    November 8, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    It’s mindless fun, though…

  5. Ramsu

    November 9, 2009 at 3:14 am

    I love the Ranbir Kapoor description: Rishi Kapoor’s voice coming out of Neetu Singh’s face. I’m not entirely sure he’ll be flattered by it, but I gotta admit, the guy is beginning to grow on me.

    At any rate, it’s a gentler indictment than Baradwaj Rangan’s description of Mimoh Chakraborty in his review of Jimmy — Yogeeta Bali with a five o’clock shadow and a bad case of laryngitis 🙂


  6. Nita

    November 9, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Came here from Indiblogger, and was looking for a good movie blog. Good analytical write-up, this one. Will certainly check out your blog again! And it was a nice surprise to see some familiar names in the blogroll! 🙂

  7. maxdavinci

    November 9, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    just be happy you didn’t have to see men fornicate behind prison walls in madhur bhandarkars so-called realistic movie!

  8. Grotto-esque

    November 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Hey I’m pretty sure AAA must’ve come and gone whilst I was whimpering and whining in that cave, after a college crush gone kaput. (Consequently, the first I heard about it was your Bol Baby Bol. Bah, I could keep busy just playing catch-up all life, what with the mountainous list of madcap comedies I’d missed.)

    “holding down a steady job that you don’t much care for is a lot more difficult than bouncing bullets off your rock hard alien chest” — you betcha! Reminds me of this slogan a colleague (from couple years back) had, slapped on his cubicle wall: “I’ll do anything for money… even work.” 😀

    Coming to Ajab Prem, I like Ranbir. I’m full of empathy for him after that Bipasha-slave bit in BAE. So no matter what the reviews say, I know I’ll always cave in to the urge to check his movies out. 😛

  9. sachita

    November 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    if at all i decide to check out this movie it will be for checking out the ajab phenomenon of katrina’s more than the normal facial muscle movement – atleast thats wat the promos showed, was that true?

    On Ranbir, let us wait for couple of more years.

  10. Sumedha

    November 9, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Definitely one of the stupidest movies I’ve ever seen! The only reason why I sort of enjoyed it was that I went to see it with a group of 12 friends, and once we realised how stupid it really is, we stopped trying to take it seriously and hooted and whistled and clapped our way through. 🙂

    The dialogue with Salman Khan was good though. 😀

    And a friend pointed out: poor Ranbir Kapoor had to go through so much to get his girl: fight off gundas, kidnap her and whisk her off on a train, fall off balconies, actually get a job. But pretty miss Jenny just has to pray and Jesus brings him back. Biased, don’t you think? 🙂

  11. dipali

    November 9, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    We enjoyed it thoroughly. I loved his pidgin English conversation with Jeejus!
    Not a brilliant movie, but a good, old fashioned comedy.

  12. sachita

    November 10, 2009 at 1:36 am

    “Rishi Kapoor’s voice come out through Neetu Singh’s face” gem.

    I am tempted to check out this movie just to see the ajab phenomenon of Ms. Ice queen’s facial muscle movement. Is that true? can they actually move beyond a smile and an indifferent expression?

    Ps: can we wait few more years before we pass the verdict on Ranbir kapoor?

  13. Amrita

    November 10, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Nsfw – why, coz hers is the only opinion that counts? :mrgreen: Yeah, RKS isnt exactly a name synonymous with new age cinema so you should know what you’re going to get. And the trailers were bang on.

    Amey – aiyyo! 😀

    Srinivas – ooh, Katrina too? 😀 Yaar, after Blue and KI and the rest, this seemed at least seemed to come from the right place.

    Rahul – and what about poor Rishi Kapoor? 😀 You’re right though, Meenakshi did own that movie even though Sunny spent all his time yelling after the intermission.

    Ramsu – AHAHAH! Yeah, that one killed me too. Ranbir isn’t anywhere near that bad. And he’s done a good job choosing movies so far. I’m impressed.

    Nita – welcome to the blog! 🙂

    Max – hahahaha!!! Yeah, I;m over the Bhandarkar revolution. Not to mention the Neil Nitin Mukesh cult.

    Grotto-esque – WHAT? How’s the ventilation in your cave?

    Sumedha – wow! totally ruined the surprise gimmick for all those who haven’t seen it! :mrgreen: I guess Jesus likes pretty girls too!

    Dipali & Bones – yeah, its very old Bollywood which seems to be coming back into fashion these days. Timepass is ok.

    Sachita – HOLD YOUR HORSES!!! Let’s not get carried away!

    • Grotto-esque

      November 10, 2009 at 8:59 pm

      You ask about the venti in the cozy “cave” that oh-so-cruelly coughed me up and out into the big bad world, a decade or so back?

      Come to think of it now, the college-room-I-call-cave — coz I’d spend days sequestered, scribbling love dirges in my diary — *did* have a venti… an 8×8 inch opening up near the roof, connecting my hostel room to the back side of my whackjob of a neighbor’s. She was this crazy fan of Richard Marx, need I say more? (All that thru-the-wall sop she used to spoon-feed me, playing/preying upon my almost funereal aloofness… pure evil!) 😀

      Speaking of dirges, I thought Lord Tennyson wrote a fine one for the Duke of Wellington, whose statue (I hear) features prominently in Ajab Prem?! (Now BR is the one whose head you should be chewing off, not poor Sumedha, for he practically puts that “surprise gimmick” in front of us, on a platter, no? “Lamb of God” — talk about beginning at the end! 😛 )

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