By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Film: "Dil Jo Bhi Kahey"; Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Revathy, Bhoomika Chawla, introducing Karan Sharma and Annabelle Wallace; Directed by Romesh Sharma; Rating: **
Sincerity sometimes engenders a strange kind of protective instinct in the audience. Karan Sharma may not be the best star-son in the Bollywood galaxy, and his dad Romesh Sharma is perhaps not justified in spending on a lavish launch pad for his son.
But there's an honesty of purpose and an aesthetic correctness about "Dil Jo Bhi Kahey" (DJBK), which brings us closer to the characters who would otherwise seem like high school dropouts looking for road pointers to a meaningful relationship.
Banal as the plot outwardly seems the Mauritius location gives a certain hum and glow to the familiar goings-on.
As a first-time director, Romesh Sharma seems focused on the task of allowing his son leeway to bring forward as many expressions as obtainable to a raw 20-something debutant. That Amitabh Bachchan plays Karan Sharma's father is providential. The mega star doesn't have that much to do.
The dramatic conflict is centred on the mother and the rebellious but finally submissive progeny who almost surrenders to his tradition-bound mother's dictates of marrying a nice decent homely Indian girl before love with a white-skinned foreigner prevails.
Though as familiar as the oceans that Binod Pradhan's camera lovingly caresses, the conflict is pitched at a subdued octave. You are led into a world of genteel affluence where the Mauritius aristocracy still believes the Indian population on the island are their subordinates decades after the indentured-labour system was abolished there.
The historical backdrop of the film is lost on the audience. So are the dialogues involving the Anglo-Saxon characters. Naturally, they speak in English. An irksome voice-over in Hindi comes on perforce to explain the context and accent to the average viewer in the interiors of India.
Trouble is "DJBK" doesn't penetrate deep enough. Sharma's narration swims smilingly on the surface. The cross-cultural romance is nourished by what can be termed a series of fortunate/unfortunate incidents culminating in a happy ending for the lovers.
The music and songs by Shankar-Ehsan-Loy are far more interesting than what debutant Mohit Ahlawat got for himself last week in "James". And the ambience, though trivial, is pleasant and engaging.
The lead pair is suitably wide-eyed and clued-in. Both Karan and Annabelle Wallace get their timing right, thanks to the wonderful support they get from other actors, particularly Amitabh Bachchan. His two-and-a-half song presence adds considerable weight to an otherwise airy, innocuous, inoffensive take on the hurdles to that emotion called love.
Bollywood.com Rating: 1.5