×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Straight From the Heart

Bollywood musicals are always over the top, but this three-hour spectacular is stuffed with songs, romance, comedy, devotional material (both Christian and Hindu), and color-soaked dance numbers that are huge even by Hindi standards. An award-winning hit at home, "Straight From the Heart" is so extraordinarily rich in kitsch, it could break through to Western auds by dint of being a near-definitive sample of the genre, and due to its surprisingly modern message.

With:
With: Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Smita Jaykar, Ajay Devgan, Vikram Gokhale, Zohra Segal, Rajeev Rema, Kermati Desai, Vinay Pithak, Kanu Gill, Ahsan Khan, Amrik Gill, Istvan Wohimuth, Csilla Szabo.

Bollywood musicals are always over the top, but this three-hour spectacular is stuffed with songs, romance, comedy, devotional material (both Christian and Hindu), and color-soaked dance numbers that are huge even by Hindi standards. An award-winning hit at home, “Straight From the Heart” is so extraordinarily rich in kitsch, it could break through to Western auds by dint of being a near-definitive sample of the genre, and due to its surprisingly modern message.

A nonstop hoot, pic follows Sameer (the currently ubiquitous Salman Khan), a young European heading to India to study vocalese with a classical master (Vikram Gokhale). Naturally, he falls in love with the pandit’s gorgeous daughter, Nandini (Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World), much to almost everyone’s dismay. Oh well: another reason to sing! (Although the subtitles refer to him as “the Italian guy,” and tell us the scene shifts to Rome at the end, he’s actually supposed to be Indo-Hungarian, and the second-unit city is obviously Budapest.)

Amid all the frooferah, and the traditions being honored, the movie preaches some subversive messages about ethnicity, caste and genuine friendship between men and women. When Nandini wants to join the freewheeling foreigner — who has a penchant for addressing God whenever he’s alone — she’s warned away from the love match with the advice that, “For a few months of joy, you’ll get a treasury of grief.”

She’s subsequently sent off in an arranged marriage with a stolid lawyer (Ajay Devgan), who initially seems insensitive to her plight. When she clams up totally, he invites her to be frank with him, but instead he finds some letters from the long-gone Sameer. Recognizing the awful truth, he offers to take her to Europe, to see what this forbidden love is made of — against the wishes of his own traditionalist family. “Manliness is not to be found,” he tells his shocked father, “in controlling a woman’s happiness!”

Heading into some twists at the end, “Heart” makes fine use of a dazzling array of locations, with extensive work at an incredibly ornate Rajasthan palace especially impressive. Every dance number has a different color-and-design theme, and many of the tunes combine jazz, rock and classical strains to frequently goose-bump-raising effect.

The acting, as usual, leans toward the hammy, with Khan’s Sameer maybe not as masculine as he could be and Rai’s Nandini a bit on the dippy side, but the whole beautifully lensed, widescreen thing — like masala with a heavy dash of paprika — blends into one of the tastiest meals to come out of India in a while. Downside, theatrically, is that megapic is already widely available on tape and disc.

Straight From the Heart

India

Production: A Bhansali Films (New Delhi) production. Produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Jhamu Sughand. Executive producer, Ibrahim Desai. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Screenplay, Bhansali, Kenneth Phillips.

Crew: Camera (color, Cinemascope), Anil Mehta; editor, Bela Segal; music, Ismail Darbar, Anjan Biswas; production designer, Nitin Desai; costumes, Neeta Lulla, Shabina Khan; special FX, Rameesh Meer, Acharya Jitendra; sound (Dolby), Jitendra Choudhary, Suresh Kathurla; choreography, Saroj Khan, Natbar Maharana; associate director, Milind Ukey; assistant director, Sumit Kumar. Reviewed on DVD at Vancouver Film Festival, Sept. 22, 2000. (Also in Seattle Film Festival.) Running time: 188 min.

With: With: Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Smita Jaykar, Ajay Devgan, Vikram Gokhale, Zohra Segal, Rajeev Rema, Kermati Desai, Vinay Pithak, Kanu Gill, Ahsan Khan, Amrik Gill, Istvan Wohimuth, Csilla Szabo.

More Film

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez Reteams With STXfilms on Romantic-Comedy Co-Starring Owen Wilson

    Jennifer Lopez is reteaming with STXfilms on the upcoming romantic-comedy “Marry Me.” Kat Coiro is directing the film and Owen Wilson is in final negotiations to join the pic, which will likely shoot this fall. The script was written by John Rogers and Tami Sagher, with a rewrite by Harper Dill. Lopez and Wilson both [...]

  • Steve Golin The Revenant Spotlight Producer

    Steve Golin, Prolific Producer and Founder of Anonymous Content, Dies at 64

    Steve Golin, an Oscar-winning producer who was founder and CEO of Anonymous Content, has died of cancer. He was 64. Golin was a pioneer in blending the business of talent management with production. Anonymous Content, which Golin founded in 1999, worked with a stable of big name artists such as Steven Soderbergh, Emma Stone, Edgar [...]

  • David Leitch

    'Hobbs and Shaw' Director David Leitch Signs First-Look Deal With Universal Pictures (EXCLUSIVE)

    Universal Pictures is signing David Leitch, his longtime producing partner, Kelly McCormick and their recently founded 87North Production banner to a first-look production deal. “David and Kelly have established themselves as a distinctive, stylish filmmaking team who can do it all, from contained thrillers to franchise tentpoles,” said Universal’s president Peter Cramer. “We are confident [...]

  • Still from cannes competition film "Parasite"

    Cannes: Bong Joon-ho Says ‘Parasite’ Is too Local to Win Competition

    Having been partially responsible for the Netflix fall out with the Cannes Film Festival, “Okja” and “Snowpiercer” director Bong Joon-ho returns to Cannes competition this year with conventionally- financed “Parasite.” But the Korean-language film is a tragicomedy that Bong says may be too nuanced for the festival. “Cannes always makes me feel excited, fresh, and [...]

  • Summer Box Office: 'Avengers: Endgame,' 'Lion

    Summer Box Office: Five Weekends to Watch

    Popcorn season is upon us, and it’ll be up to comic-book heroes, a wise-cracking genie, and a lion who would be king to ensure movie theaters are still the hottest place to spend the summer. Last summer, blockbusters like “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” Ocean’s 8,” and “The Meg” drove moviegoers to their [...]

  • Critics Week

    Cannes Critics’ Week Unveils Its Lineup

    Lorcan Finnegan’s science-fiction thriller “Vivarium” with Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, Jérémy Clapin’s fantasy-filled animated feature “I Lost My Body,” and Hlynur Pálmason’s Icelandic drama “A White, White Day” are among the 11 films set to compete at Critics’ Week, the section dedicated to first and second films that runs parallel with the Cannes Film [...]

  • China Box Office: 'Wonder Park' Fails

    China Box Office: 'Wonder Park' Fails to Impress While 'P Storm' Rages On

    Even on one of the quietest weekends of the year, new U.S. animated release “Wonder Park” failed to inspire Chinese audiences as much as Hong Kong and Indian movies already in their third weekend in theaters. Starring the voice talents of Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, and Ken Jeong, among many others, the film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content