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Director :
Music :
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Starring :
 Ravi Chopra
 Adesh Shrivastav
 Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Salman Khan, Mahima Choudhary, Paresh Rawal, Aman Verma

By Kshama Rao

All those who nearly crucified Amitabh Bachchan two weeks ago for acting in the apology of a film called Boom should watch director Ravi Chopra's Baghban. They will know that Bachchan still has his heart in the right place.

Raj Malhotra (Bachchan) has just celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary with wife Pooja (Hema Malini). The couple enjoys this on-going love affair, romancing each other over cups of tea and the quintessential Bachchan scene (wife tying the tie-knot, fortunately not standing on a stool), Holi songs and moony lines. Malhotra is a bank employee and is due to retire soon. He believes that his four sons (played by Aman Verma, Sameer Soni, Saahil Chadda and Nasir Khan) are his 'fixed deposits and sturdy eight arms'. After retirement, Malhotra and wife decide to spend time with their children but unfortunately the sons have their own independent lives and families and very reluctantly give in. But, they decide that while their mother would live with the eldest son and his wife (Aman and Suman Ranganathan), the father would be put up for six months with the second son (Sameer and Divya Dutta). The decision is cruel and Raj Malhotra would rather live alone than be separated from the love of his wife but Pooja makes him see reason "look at it as their love for us". But as the old couple start leading separate lives with their sons, their worst fears come true. The sons look at their parents' guidance as 'interference' and their needs "as additional and unnecessary burden". While the old man finds solace in a music café run by a Gujarati couple, Hemant bhai and his baidi (Paresh Rawal and Lillete Dubey), Pooja cries into the nights without her husband. Raj Malhotra is then suggested by Hemantbhai who calls him motabhai means elder brother to write about his feelings and his precious love for his wife. Malhotra pays heed and starts penning 'Baghban'.

Six months are over and it's time for the couple to spend the next six months with the younger two sons but not before Raj and Pooja decide to sneakily spend their 41st wedding anniversary at Vijayanagar where they had first met. There they also meet their foster son Alok (Salman Khan) and his wife Arpita (Mahima Chowdhry) who the Malhotras had raised as their own blood and sent abroad for further studies. Alok wants his parents to stay with him but they decline. The old couple, after spending some moments of love with Alok and Arpita decide to go to their old house where they once lived alone. Raj even decides to do some gainful employment but their woes come to an end when Hemantbhai comes with an advance cheque of 10 lakhs for Malhotra's book Baghban, which is now published and has even been a Booker prize winner.

The film ends at a felicitation function in the honour of Raj Malhotra where now even his erring sons have come to claim their share of pie. This time round though, the old man gives them a peace of his mind.

The man who helped you take your first steps, will you help him to take his last ones, is the question Ravi Chopra asks through Baghban.
Baghban scores in various aspects. The story by B R Chopra and written by Dr Achala Nagar may be age-old - old parents being neglected by children (seen in various films before like the Rajesh Khanna starrer Avtaar) but still comes across as fresh and relevant even today in the day and age of nuclear families and children who don't think beyond themselves. The situations are heart wrenching be it the first time Raj and Pooja are separated to Raj singing a sad song on the phone to a weeping Pooja (reminded us of Bachchan's earlier film Mahaan when he sang a similar song to his long-distance wife played by Waheeda Rehman), from Raj keeping a karva chauth for his wife to his grandson requesting him to not come again to his house having seen his parents' behaviour towards the grandfather, Baghban is a tearjerker with a capital T.

Interestingly, Chopra has portrayed the love between a much-married couple (rarely seen on Indian screen) with a lot of warmth and sensitivity. The dialogues (Achala Nagar) tug at your heartstrings while the performances especially by Bachchan and Hema Malini are first rate. Bachchan as the loving, romantic husband, a doting father and then a disappointed but proud man is miles ahead of the rest of the cast. Whether it's his scenes with his wife Pooja or his friends (Sharad Saxena, Asrani, Paresh Rawal) or the climax in which he gives it back to his children, Amitabh Bachchan brings a lump into your throat each time he speaks with those wrinkled eyes. And of course those awesome dance sequences, Bachchan is in his element and seems to have thoroughly enjoyed himself. Salman Khan as Alok gives his best to the father-son scenes.

Aadesh Shrivastav's catchy music and Barun Mukherji's photography are other highlights.

The film's minus points are the clichéd sequences -- be it the sequence when Pooja warns her son about his daughter's wayward behaviour and when the granddaughter realises her mistake or the last scene when the erring sons shamelessly come to their father for their share of the pie. Also, the sons' rude behaviour towards their parents right from day one is a bit too much to believe. Also, the bank where Raj Malhotra seems to have spend 30 years of his life when actually the ICICI bank (where he's shown working) has not been in existence for more than 10 years. Last but not the least, it's a trifle hard to accept the dignified, self-sufficient, stylish looking Bachchan and Hema Malini in the roles which probably the late Nasir Hussain and Nirupa Roy would have completely devoured!

All said and done, Baghban is supposedly the dream of B R Chopra which his son Ravi Chopra fulfilled. Wish after watching it, sons fulfill their fathers'!

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   Viewer's Feedback

I saw the movie earlier on today, and thought it was okay but nothing great. Hema Malini didnt do her role justice, Jaya Bachan wouldve made the film much better. 7/10.
- Imaan

I think da movie is a da best. With such a gud review-there couldn''t be any better movie.
- Nisha

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