Six In One Film
I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada and other languages.
I think we should add Salaam-e-Ishq in the original stories we are looking for. Why? It is original because there are six stories in one screenplay. I pulled it out of my DVD collection as a breath of fresh air. My head is spinning with repetitive stories about four guys sharing a house or a life. Mumbai seems to love such films.
Nikhil Advani, the director of Salaam-e-Ishq had a very difficult task of making one quilt from six stories. I wanted to say that everything revolves around Kamini (Priyanka Chopra), an egocentric item queen who wants to be a tragedy in a Karan Johar film. I changed my mind when I realised that some stories dovetail into her, others don’t.
Kamini needs some tragedy in her life so that director Karan Johar can give her meaty roles in his films. She creates a boyfriend Rahoul. Her plan backfires when a real ‘Rahoul’ played by Salman Khan turns up, and demands boyfriend privileges like being seen in public and engagement announcements.
Ashutosh, played by John Abraham is Hindu. He works in a television station. He marries Tehzeeb, a Muslim reporter played by Vidya Balan against his father’s wishes. She is involved in a train accident and loses her memory. Ashu takes her to his father and asks her to hate her. He thinks that might help her regain her memory.
Vinay, Anil Kapoor’s character is facing a midlife crisis. He meets Anjali (Anjani Sukhani), a young dancer in the train and falls in love with her. He works for an entertainment company in London that signs on entertainers such as Khamini.
Juhi Chawla plays his wife. Her sister Gia (Ayesha Takia) is getting married in India. He doesn’t have any interest in the wedding because he is pre-occupied with Anjali. He doesn’t even know her last name.
Gia is getting ready to marry unreliable Shiven (Akshay Khanna). He doesn’t want to get married but is afraid of Gia’s father who is the head of the Indian army. Juggi (Vishal Malhotra) his best friend scares him about marriage and children. Shiven is too much of a coward to tell Gia that he is marriage-shy so he records his feelings. Gia’s father finds another suitor for her.
Govinda is Raju, a taxi driver who constantly dreams about how a white girl would walk out from the airport and fall in love with him. Such a girl materialises, but she is Stephanie (Shannon Esra) a Canadian girl who followed her boyfriend to India, after he told her that he will obey his parents’ wishes and marry an Indian girl.
This part of the film is very interesting because it discusses marriage brokers who use internet sites like shaadi.com. It also makes you realise that certain things will never change, such as parents wanting their children to marry within their culture or religion.
Isha Koppikar, who was divine in the film Ek Vivaah plays a bride who has never had her marriage night because her husband is accident-prone. He burnt his father’s house because he was over enthusiastic to consummate the marriage. He destroys a second house which his parents managed to secure after the fire.
Nikhil Advani did a great job with the editing. Kamini’s story is definitely linked to Vinay’s story in London. Gia’s story is linked to London because she is Vinay’s sister-in-law. Raju’s story is linked to Shiven because Raju is the taximan who drives Shiven to the airport.
My favourite is the theme song, Salaam-e-Ishq. The Hindu-Muslim marriage between Ashu and Tehzeeb is also profound. It is a stand-alone. It is not connected to the spoilt actress Kamini at all.
You cannot watch the film is one sitting. You must budget a few weekends so that you can find your favourite story among the six stories.
Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness the Novel.