Saturday, November 10, 2007 11:00 IST
By Santa Banta News Network
by Sneha Hazarika

Cast: Debutantes Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor, Rani Mukerji, Salman Khan, Zohra Sehgal, Begum Para

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Rating: 2 1/2 *

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's ‘Saawariya' is stylish to the core and it won't even be an understatement to call it poetry in motion. From the sets to the treatment to the way the characters behave, everything about ‘Saawariya' is different.

It's probably one of the first times that a filmmaker has tried out something like this in Indian cinema.Adapted from "White Nights", a Russian short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky and with some influence from the musical ‘Moulin Rouge', ‘Saawarya' is the highly hyped dream launch of star kids Ranbir and Sonam.

It's a great short story but the question is how far can a short story be stretched to make a two plus film, and that too a Bollywood film!

There are plenty of references to Ranbir's great grandfather Raj Kapoor's films here. The lead character is named Ranbir Raj and its also interesting that Ranbir quite acts and dresses up like his great grand father.

Musician Ranbir (Ranbir Kapoor) is a dreamer who comes to make a living in a picturesque fairy tale city. He is a do gooder and he takes pleasure in bringing smiles to the faces of talkative prostitute Gulabji (Rani Mukerji) and her colleagues as well as lonely old widow (Zohra Sehgal) where he seeks accommodation.

One day he chances upon this long haired tall beauty (Sonam Kapoor) on a bridge and falls for her immediately. The mysterious girl Sakina who stays with her blind grandmother however doesn't reciprocate immediately as she is in love with some stranger and has been waiting for him for over a year.

But deeply in love Ranbir still remains hopeful and giving him encouragement throughout is the good hearted prostitute Rani.

The cinematography by Ravi K Chandran is superb, in fact almost as good as Baz Lurhmann's Moulin Rouge' and some frames and moments in the film truly stand out. Omung Kumar's art direction is superb too.

However one look at the film and it seems that the short story has been stretched beyond a limit to make this film. Also a lot of things in the film look quite queer.

Like the way Sakina conducts herself. She is in love with a man about whom she knows nothing at all.

And it seems considering the era and the conservative times (it's never mentioned but one can guess it's the fifties), Salman and Sonam seem to get too close for comfort pretty soon.

Also sometimes her feelings for Ranbir also come across as confusing.

Ranbir Kapoor looks great and is a fantastic actor. True to his genes, he displays a plethora of emotions effortlessly in his debut film. Sonam is pretty and has good screen presence. Rani Mukerji and Zohra Sehgal are as usual very good. Salman Khan however has very little to do.

Music by Monty is average. The title track however stands out.

‘Saawariya' has great visuals but the film can't really match up to Bhansali's earlier films like ‘Khamoshi', ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', ‘Devdas' and ‘Black'. More over chances are, the film won't really appeal mainstream audiences and most people would go for its truly commercial rival ‘Om Shanti Om.'
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