Barsaat -- written and directed by Rajkumar Santoshi -- is, of course, Bobby Deol's debut film. And, like brother Sunny's debut, it was a hit, sitting in sixth place in the top ten grossing films of 1995.
Bobby plays Badal, a village boy who is sent to the city by his father in order to get an education. While there, he meets Tina (Twinkle Khanna, also in her film debut), the rich daughter of Dinesh Oberoi. After a bit of a rocky start (snooty Tina decides to teach the country bumpkin a few lessons), Tina and Badal fall in love. Tina's father is not happy with this situation (believing Badal is not worthy of Tina because he's -- well -- a poor hick from the sticks). Tina's father uses his influence to get Badal out of the way, a lot of other stuff happens, and then Tina and Badal end up together, happily ever after, The End.
And I wish I had more to say about it than I do. But I have to admit: first, I don't have this film on DVD, and I think that one day, I'd really like to do a bit of a comparison to Sunny's debut film, Betaab, because I think there are some interesting comparisons to be made (and a discussion about how Bollywood launches its sons to be considered, too).
But, I have to admit, too, that I actually don't care for Barsaat all that much, and as forgiving as I try to be about debut films, and no matter how many times I've watched Barsaat, I just can't seem to connect with it, at least, with the early parts of the film.
Part of the problem, I think is the plot -- there's actually not much of it (oh, the irony of this after my endless discussions of Betaab), and what there is tends to veer into the territory of High Melodrama, definitely not my cup of tea (though I remind myself that this is Rajkumar Santoshi, this is not untypical of his work, and I don't totally give myself over to his films readily). Lots of small events without really much of a story to connect them together and keep me interested. Much of the early part of the film is spent on the college campus -- one of those odd filmi college campuses where students seem to get up to a lot of hi-jinks, and go on picnics, and play jokes on each other, and I'll admit, I don't have a lot of patience for that (as I've mentioned recently with some brief thoughts on Kuch Kuch Hota Hai).
Also -- I've never much cared for Twinkle Khanna. This is not her fault, but I find something about her voice incredibly grating, and it just gets on my nerves after a short time. I find her acting in this incredibly forced at times, too, but I need to be mindful that it is her first film role (and I do find her much better in the second half, so there we are). I also don't have much patience with arrogant, rude, rich girls who have no respect for anyone or anything, and although I know that love is supposed to mellow her out and bring out the good in her, Tina is just annoying for far too long (mostly, see above, because the plot doesn't much do anything except meander in a series of episodes in which Tina is frightfully mean to Badal. Once again, the irony of this after my pretty much saying Betaab did the same thing comes back to haunt me, so I think perhaps a re-watch of Barsaat should involve a little more thinking about why I'm more forgiving for one film, and yet, less forgiving for another. Hint: the answer, I think, is NOT in the difference about how I feel about Bobby Deol versus Sunny Deol, as you'll see if you read on).
So. I bet you're asking yourself, "Why is she bothering to even write anything about this film when obviously it just wasn't her cup of tea?"
Because if there's one thing I can say about Barsaat, it's that, despite all the things I've said about the film, there are some incredibly wonderful, squeeful, delightfully filmi moments in it, and Bobby Deol is absolutely terrific. And I actually wish I owned the DVD of it so I could screencap every inch of him for this blog post. He is so handsome, so charming, so sweet, so funny, just so incredibly wonderful, that Barsaat is worth my rewatching just to see him in it. Everything I love about Bobby Deol is there in his first film-- remarkably so, in fact. I think Bobby's performance in Barsaat is one of the more impressive debuts I've seen, and, being an aficionado of first films, I've seen a lot of them*. Bobby's first film was also the first film of his I ever saw, and it turned me into a fan instantly. Sadly, though, I think that Bobby never seems to get enough film roles that do him justice.
And if I'm being entirely honest here -- I think the last, oh, third of the film is full of all sorts of awesome. The film and I may get off to a rocky start, but once Rajkumar Santoshi finally hooks me, I am rivetted until the very end.
There is one moment in the film I absolutely adore, the song "Ishq Mein Ek Pal" -- Badal has brought Tina back to his village, and for the sake of propriety, the villagers decide the two must be kept separate before they are formally engaged:
Seriously, Bobby is so sweet in this film that you just want to eat him with a spoon.
It has to be admitted, too, that Barsaat is a very beautiful film to watch at times:
Which is perhaps not surprising when you consider that Santosh Sivan was in charge of the cinematography for the film (the rain scenes in this film, as limited as they are, are some of the most beautiful and delicate ones I've seen, no wonder they finally settled on Barsaat for the title).
So: if you are a fan of mildly predictable melodrama, with a few original twists, are willing to wait out the pay-off for the best bits of the film, want to see some beautiful work by Santosh Sivan, and also want to see Bobby Deol in one of his most adorable roles, you will want to give Barsaat a try.
Did I mention Danny Denzongpa as the whacked-out corrupt cop sent by Tina's father to deal with Badal?
Totally. Awesome. You will never look at milk in the same way again.
*I'd even go out on a limb here and say Bobby's debut performance outstrips Sunny's (as much as I like Sunny's) by a longshot. Of course, this makes me even more determined to get a copy of Barsaat on DVD and compare the two debut films.