Feb 20, 2015

Review: Mann (1999)

It's always a challenge for me to get excited to watch a Bollywood movie and I guess that's my own doing. I've forced myself to sit through so many bad ones over the years it's not like Mann is really setting itself out to be any different. It looks to be the usual song and dance, or at least that was my impression before I started watching it.

For one thing, it's rated quite low on IMDb for a Bollywood movie which isn't a good sign. It's weird how so many Indian movies are in the 8's and higher with at least 10,000 ratings or more, but that seems to be par for the course. It's a little suspicious really and the only other country that I can think of that has as much nationalistic pride when it comes to their movies are Turks. There's nothing wrong with loving the movies that come from your own country, but there's no way all of them can be masterpieces.


Genre: drama, romance
Directed by: Indra Kumar
Produced by: Indra Kumar, Ashok Thakeria
Written by: Aatish Kapadia
Music by: Darshan Rathod, Sanjeev Rathod, Naresh Sharma
Running time: 160 minutes
Production company: N/A
Distributed by: Maruti International
Country: India
Language: Hindi, English
Budget: N/A
Box office: $3,300,000 (India)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Aamir Khan, Manisha Koirala, Sharmila Tagore, Dipti Bhatnagar, Dalip Tahil, Anil Kapoor, Rani Mukerji, Neeraj Vora, Satyendra Kapoor, Anant Mahadevan, Sulabha Deshpande



Dev Karan Singh (Aamir Khan) is a famous playboy who has played himself out of all his money. Due to marry rich heiress Anita (Deepti Bhatnagar) very soon, he boards a cruise ship to visit his grandmother (Sharmila Tagore). There he meets Priya Verma (Manisha Koirala) and tries his usual bag of tricks to get her in bed with him. Unsuccessful, he proposes the two become friends for the voyage which of course doesn't last as things appear to be progressing beyond friendship.


If you're familiar with Love Affair or An Affair to Remember, the story won't be anything new. That's because Mann is indeed a remake of Love Affair and apparently it's also quite similar to Bollywood classic Bheegi Raat. Remaking classic romance movies is a specialty of Bollywood but I shouldn't be pointing fingers because it's not like Hollywood is ashamed of remaking any number of foreign films just to put them in English.

I guess the best way to describe Mann is Love Affair with extra song and dance numbers. There's also a lot of bloat in the form of Dev romantically pursuing Priya with ridiculous sonnets and verses that feels very much out of place. It's clear that a lot of what made Love Affair a sweet and uncomplicated romance movie is sadly gone, instead giving place to slapstick and melodrama.

Besides the fact that it looks like Aatish Kapadia has put Love Affair on a medieval torture device and stretched it out to Mister Fantastic proportions, the production values are just so insultingly low. Things like the camera violently zoom in or out on people's faces to capture their reactions and goofy sound effects that don't have any place being found in America's Funniest Home Videos are just a few examples of the complete ineptitude I had to suffer through. It's also pretty depressing to see just how much the sets actually look like sets in Mann. It may have been released in 1999, but Mann looks like a B-movie from the 70's.

Aamir Khan manages to keep things relatively steady with his performance, but I'm not so sold on his song and dance routines or his melodramatic scenes. I've seen good performances in the past out of him and he's honestly alright as the overly charming Dev, but I don't think he necessarily has dancing in his blood. Maybe it comes down to the choreography of Mann, but Khan just doesn't seem all that into his singing and dancing scenes and I don't blame him.

It's true that these scenes in Bollywood films are usually pretty unnecessary, but the least they can do is be fun. In Mann, most of them feel pretty flat and that's not a good thing at all. Transitions into these numbers also feel quite abrupt at times. Even more disappointingly, a lot of the songs aren't even original compositions and have been lifted from a variety of sources. Probably one of the funniest moments for me when I watching Mann with my girlfriend was her recognizing a song as a copy of "L'Italiano" by Toto Cutugno.

To me, the weakest link was Manisha Koirala as the main female love interest and that's mostly due to all the overacting she commits. There are times when Koirala is crying on screen and you're actually worried that she's going to vomit. It's just way too much, way overdone and it's hard to take any of her dramatic scenes seriously. Besides her, Neeraj Vora is OK at times for the comedic relief and Anil Kapoor is actually a nice surprise. 

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Mann is a completely botched up version of its source material, but I'm disappointed all the same. Seeing Love Affair with a Bollywood twist doesn't sound all that bad if you ask me. Not at first anyway. Indra Kumar just turns up the melodrama to unbearable levels and Aatish Kapadia stretches out portions of the story that shouldn't have been at all. The production values are also extremely depressing so if you like Love Affair and/or An Affair to Remember, keep your distance. Mann is two hours and forty minutes you can't get back. 



Related Reviews:

Love Affair (1939) 

An Affair to Remember (1957)

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

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