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Sweet and sour soup  

Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi
Tips, Rs 45

There's some ingredient missing from Anu Malik's serving

How to promote a film: play snatches of the songs on TV, and once you snare your potential audience, create a website they can visit. A small hitch: the poor things may twist their fingers trying to type in the full name and its correct spelling.

What does the website of KKKM do? (Might as well abbreviate the name, that's the way people remember them these days). It gives details of who's who on the crew, and allows download of wallpapers. And this is how it sums up the Rahul Rawail-directed movie:

"Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi is a pungent, entertaining narrative of simple lives in complex situations. This endearing family film with Rishi Kapoor's warm presence, Kajol's heroic performance, Sunil Shetty's surprise one, and Rati Agnihotri's comeback makes it a film that does full justice to its name."

Twins, and brothers on opposite sides of the law, are a perennial favourite in Indian cinema, perhaps mirroring our philosophical obsession with good and evil, and our belief that they spring from the same source. Ah, advaita!

If Hema Malini was Seetha and Geetha, Sridevi played Anju and Manju in Chaalbaaz. Both these hugely entertaining films drew from the skills of vivacious actors. Now, Kajol of the wonder-struck eyes does another twins story in Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi. Unlike in Ganga Jamuna, Deewar and Daari Thappida Maga, the Kannada film starring Rajkumar, where two brothers or twins are pitted against each other because they represent good and evil, the heroine-centred films show a benign duality: one sister is meek and submissive, while the other is streetsmart and can outwit anyone who comes her way, but neither is wicked.

You'll find the stereotypical villains -- an old witch of an aunt and her revolting son -- in Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi. The two girls played by Kajol live separately, one with the father and the other with the mother. Rahul Rawail has been making films for over two decades, and his early Love Story, in which Kumar Gaurav made a debut, was a commercial hit. He later introduced Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh in Betaab (1985). He has made 17 films, his latest being Raju Chacha (2000).

Now for Anu Malik's music. He was probably told that this would be a family film, and so he makes some tame songs.

Tumko sirf tumko has a violin ensemble phrase that, thanks to an unexpected note, lends colour to an otherwise insipid tune. Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu, the official voices of this tape, sing this version, and the song is repeated with just Kumar Sanu's voice on Side B.

An odd song with Sunidhi Chauhan and Anuradha Sriram relieves you of the monotony of Alka's thinning voice and Kumar Sanu's thickening slur.

Neend udh rahi hai by Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu is a predictable tune with an angelic chorus and lots of familiar violin phrases.

A Scottish bagpipe section in an Anu Malik cassette! Saamne baith kar then lapses into disco beat and bass and again shifts track to sound like an overfamiliar film song. The interlude again jazzes up in Latino style. Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu sing this duet too.

Ab nahi to kabhi has a reggae beat and deep bass and reminded me of '60s orchestrally strong songs from Hollywood. Listen to the chords and the violin phrases and you'll understand why. Sunidhi part raps out the song. The chords sometimes dip into sevenths and augmenteds instead of sticking to the tried and tested major chords that film music banks on. Anu Malik chips in with his voice.

A fashionable accent on a husky voice says it believes in women's lib. Then Alka Yagnik's voice takes over to the accompaniment of Arabian-style violin phrases and a heavy disco beat mixed with a tabla. Almost makes you see the strobe lights. Here's the firebrand Kajol proclaiming her philosophy of life, "I will dance, I will also make you dance!"

Now I know what Anu Malik has been listening to... Maghreb, or Afro-Arab music. Listen to Bandh kamare mein, a lusty song that sounds like Mere angane mein, the Amitabh Bachchan hit from Laawaris. Its orchestra for the opening and the interludes is pure Maghreb. Anuradha sounds extremely out of place in her accent and come-hither voice.

Finally the title track, Kuch kuch khatti kuch kuch meethi by Alka Yagnik. More disco stuff, or is it retro punk or rock and roll? What's in a name when there is so little to enjoy or appreciate? The lyrics by Sameer don't strike home any image.

S Suchitra Lata

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Media praise for your favourite e-zine from India:

*For fans of Indian music, there's no better resource on the Web -- CNet
*Well researched -- India Today
*Fantastic site -- Hitbox
*Web's best -- Britannica
*Superb coverage... worth tuning in to -- Rediff
*Classy -- Deccan Herald

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