‘Saawariya’ Targets Eternal Love
By Ras H. Siddiqui

Sony Picture’s “Saawariya”, a new Bollywood-Hollywood movie, was released in the United States (and worldwide) on November 9.
Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's short story, White Nights, this production has been sculpted in the capable hands of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who brought us the epic “Devdas” and the critically acclaimed “Black”. The film also contains a number of “firsts’ that are bound to generate much interest amongst the South Asian viewing public anywhere, starting with the fact that this is the first Indian movie which is Hollywood-produced (Columbia Tristar Pictures).
It is also a first that a movie starring Salman Khan and Rani Mukherjee these days that does not present them in lead roles, as that honor goes to the relatively “unknowns” Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor.
The fact that Ranbir Kapoor (who plays the character of Raj) happens to be the son of Rishi Kapoor and Sonam (playing part of Sakina), is the daughter of Anil Kapoor, cannot be lost to readers here. The “First Family” of the Indian film industry founded by Prithviraj Kapoor is very much present and is the focus of Saawariya’s acting pool. It seems that Sawariya may just be extending one of the richest and longest legacies of the South Asian film industry today with the grandchild of Raj Kapoor, a personal favorite of mine, making their debut in this film.
The reason of writing this review is both fan demand and the Sanjay Leela Bhasali (SLB) imprint on this film. Not one who is a regular fan of traditional blockbusters from Bollywood such as Devdas (2002), it was the movie Black (2005) that convinced critics like myself that SLB has the touch of a genius in his cinematic efforts. Making such a sad story both presentable and hopeful takes extraordinary talent. Black has to be one of the finest films to come out from India since the turn of the century enhancing Rani Mukherjee’s career and possibly putting the icing on the acting legacy of the legend, Amitabh Bachchan.
Here in Saawariya (Eternal Partner of the Soul) screenplay writer Prakash Kapadia has to go up against his own excellent past work in both Devdas and Black. Although little is yet known about the story in this movie (especially Salman Khan’s role in it) thus far, there are going to be some challenging segments of a rumored trans-religious love affair between Raj and Sakina. Rani Mukherjee (as Gulab) is also to be as colorful as ever in this film. And no matter what else it has in store for the viewers, the richest dialogues from the Hindi-Urdu language realm are expected, since many including this writer have already had a chance to listen to the Saawariya music soundtrack.
Music for this film was provided by Monty Sharma and one song by SLB. Lyrics for the songs have predominently been written by Sameer and to a lesser extent Nusrat Badr, and Sandeep Nath. Vocals are by Shail Hada (Saawariya title Song), Shaan, Sherya Ghoshal, Parthiv Gohil, Richa Sharma, Kunal Ganjawala and one song by Alka Yagnik. The title song is strong. Another song “Masha-Allah” is experimental and could have used stronger vocals. The professional voice of Alka Yagnik sure stands out in “Chhabeela”. “Jab Se Teray Naina” and “Yoon Shabnami” work well and remind us of Veer-Zaara somehow. And the naughty “Thoray Badmash ho Tum” and Jaan-e-Jaan are destined to become popular among the younger viewers.
To conclude here, it is once again significant that SLB Films which made Saawariya is being backed by Sony and Columbia Pictures. That in itself shows two major emerging realities of Indian films today; namely that the confidence level of overseas financing in select Bollywood films is high and that the market for such films is now recognized as truly global in nature.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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