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Love in the time of hollering

This is music so cliched you'll want to holler the tunes along to prove that you've heard them all before

Shah Rukh as Raj Aryan, high priest of love

Shah Rukh Khan is seated on a straight-backed chair holding a violin at a professional angle. A promise of interesting music?

Make no such conclusion, Jatin-Lalit have fallen in love with "hit" tunes. So much so that this tape has the very same tunes you've heard in Dil To Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Hum Aap ke Hain Kaun? You might start singing along these tunes even before you've heard them out once!

Yash Chopra's much admired and envied track record -- he is known to give one hit every Diwali -- invests this film with great expectations. There's also the star factor -- Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan pitted against each other. And Mohabbatein is competing with the other Diwali release, the Hritik Roshan starrer Mission Kashmir.

Mohabbatein, which means 'loves', is the story of a music gurukul where principal Narayan Shankar, who hates the idea of love, finds an adversary in violin teacher Raj Aryan, who espouses the idea of love. So this is no battle for honour or revenge. It's an ideological contest between two unlikely rivals -- love and discipline!

In addition to the big stars, you have six students -- Uday Chopra, Shamita Shetty, Jugal Hansraj, Kim Sharma, Jimmy Shergill and Preeti Jhangiani. They form pairs afraid of Amitabh's stern admonitions but encouraged by Shah Rukh.

Mohabbatein runs for 3 hours and 45 minutes, which must be an epic size for an adolescent love story. And going by the foreign locations, they must have spent much more than the producer of Dr Zhivago.

Humko hamise churalo especially sounds like an extension of the Dil To Pagal Hai title song. The violin interludes are so stale that even the length of each phrase can be predicted. Lata Mangeshkar's voice refuses to co-operate. Udit Narayan sings well and in his easy flowing style, but the tune is so unchallenging anyone could have done an equally competent job.

Chalte chalte is not a remake of the famous song that brought Bhappi Lahiri his brush with real fame. This song again sounds like the first. Very tiring to listen to the same chords, similar tunes over and over again. Only difference is that it uses the six new voices of Udbhav, Manohar Shetty, Ishaan, Shweta Pandit, Sonali Bhatawadekar and Pritha Mazumdar. The voices are competent but no single timbre stands out. Three sets of lovers trying to define love in dead images -- being away from the world, and suddenly being lost for words. There is another version called Chalte chalte 2.

The same singers render Pairon main bandhan hai where the girls talk of being tied down, and the boys encourage them to get away from all that and let their dance bells ring out. Nothing memorable here either.

Rhythms of Mohabbatein starts promisingly with deep toned drums and dancing bells and the tabla reminding you of a kathak dance session, and alternating with some Western pop beats on a keyboard chord background. Tradition and modernity, discipline and freedom to love explored in music perhaps. A chorus joins in later and sings the songs we have heard on this tape and elsewhere. Then violins chase each other furiously to the crescendo.

Ankhon Khuli has in addition to the six singers, Lata Mangeshkar, Udit Narayan and Shah Rukh on the track. The lyrics talk of falling in love with eyes open or shut. Here finally is the violin which Shah Rukh is seen holding in all the promos of the movie.

And the ubiquitous Punjabi number... Soni soni is sung by the same six singers, besides Udit Narayan and the Punjabi singer Jaspinder Narula.

Mohabbatein love themes finds life in the tones of a sitar played with tenderness. Though the same thrashed out tunes return, the sitar, violin and piano give it some freshness.

Zinda rehti mohabbatein by Lata Mangeshkar and Udit Narayan is the same tune, literally this time, of Humko hamse chura lo with equally inane lyrics about love.

S Suchitra Lata

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