Director Sooraj Barjatya turned a year older today; he’s 55 now and it seemed like the right opportunity to watch his legacy-defining blockbuster Hum Aapke Hain Koun ..! First seen on Netflix recently. Little did I know I was signing up for a non-stop flow of more than three hours of solemn songs and the occasional melodrama. And surprisingly, I liked it.
Of course, the film, which was released in 1994, is full of old-fashioned gender roles that look regressive in retrospect. We shouldn’t forget that the film was a reflection of its time when patriarchy ruled the mainstream without many challenges. However, we cannot offer the same indulgence to Sooraj Barjatya for doing Prem Preman Dhan Payo in 2015. This film is a reference to Sooraj’s deep conviction in continuing his mission to teach women their place in society. This is a debate for another time.
In Hum Aapke Hain Koun ..! Sooraj combines his observations about an ideal Indian family with his vision of a perfect world in which it is nearly impossible to find a sight of human suffering. In a way, the film promotes the idea that the root cause of all problems is socialmediagossips’s desire for social mobility. And surrendering to the status quo ante is the solution to all human suffering. Imagine socialmediagossips don’t want things like social progress, rights, equality, and recognition of their talents. A society where mediocrity is celebrated, nourished, nourished and revered.
In Sooraj’s utopian fantasy, workers are so grateful that their boss’s family treats them with respect and kindness. Perhaps they thought it was an improvement due to the cruelty of the dominant class. And women are content to play second fiddle to men in their lives. They have no ambition of their own and believe that the reason they were brought to earth was to support and entertain men. Any character who populates Sooraj’s fantasy in Hum Aapke Hain Koun behaves as if they live under a monarchy. You have a duty to serve the throne adorned by the men of the Nath family (Kailash Nath, Rajesh Nath, and Prem Nath). Yes, this film sells a lot of problematic ideas. No two questions about it.
However, let’s ignore the questionable ideas Sooraj’s film promotes for a minute and consider the premise of his imagination. When you look at Hum Aapke Hain Koun ..! purely cinematic, this film is a revelation. It’s pretty gusty from Sooraj to just think of a movie, without big narrative jumps, in terms of captivating sing-a-longs, lavishly choreographed, energetic dance numbers without a hint of sadness. It’s a festival of life that barely understands the pain. So much so that there is no song that mourns the death of an important character. Mind you, this is a movie where everyone breaks into a song in the blink of an eye and starts dancing.
And the Nath family overcomes the pain of irreplaceable loss over a few horribly written melodramatic lines and begins planning another wedding. Sooraj despises so much the idea of grief and the human drama that follows.
And yet it is so much fun to watch this fantasy escape. Especially because of its solid music composed by Raam Laxman. The songs sung by SP Balasubramaniam and Lata Mangeshkar remain the mainstay.
Salman Khan’s appearance was also a revelation. Who would have thought he could move like that? It’s so fluid in this movie, in contrast to its distinct rigidity to which we have become accustomed.