Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Mausam: Several seasons too old
If director Pankaj Kapur hadn’t gone to pains to establish that “Mausam” plays out between the mid-90s and the early years of this century, you’d be forgiven for thinking this film takes place in the 20s — when there was no internet, no phones and no technology. Why else would two, reasonably well-off, intelligent people who obviously have access to technology be unable to trace each other? It makes no sense, and instead of feeling sad for them, you feel frustrated.
That, in a nutshell, is how you feel about “Mausam” anyway. The promos describe the film as an “epic” love story, but the only thing epic here is the running time. The film runs for almost three hours, during which Kapur plays out the same meet-separate-meet-separate theme till you tire of it.
Shahid Kapur plays Harinder (Harry), an outgoing young lad in rural Punjab who falls for the mysterious new girl in town Aayat (Sonam Kapoor). Over stolen glances and secret letters, they fall for each other and Kapur builds up this part of the romance really well. For the first 45 minutes, you like this love story. Then, he starts taking himself too seriously, and loses the plot.
Kapur weaves in significant events from India’s history in the storyline, so that just as Harry and Aayat are about to confess their love for each other, the Babri Masjid is destroyed and her family moves out overnight, not even leaving a forwarding address. They only meet seven years later, in picturesque Scotland, where he is now an Indian Air Force pilot and she’s running a shop with her father and his best friend.
A few romantic songs and scenes later, just as they are about to decide on a wedding date, the Kargil war strikes and Harry leaves — without so much as a phone call — and again, no forwarding address. Aayat calls his sister once, but when she finds an answering machine, gives up, and doesn’t think of calling her again.
And so it goes on. When the war gets over and Harry looks for her, he finds that she has moved from Scotland … and you guessed it, left no forwarding address.
The fact that the lovers and their families are affected by everything from the 1984 riots, the Babri Masjid demolition, the Mumbai bomb blasts, the Kargil War and the Gujarat riots is a bit too much to handle. The pace of the film is indulgent and Kapur lingers on many moments. While some of them work, some don’t. The romance is very old world, and while that is charming, the problem begins when things turn serious.
Both Shahid Kapur and Sonam try to inject enough enthusiasm into their roles but are let down by the script.
Watch this one only if you are sucker for romance with lots and lots of patience.