Baabul has many things which work for it, a socially relevant subject, some of the biggest and best stars in bollywood, some fine music and good performances by its lead actors which definitely make's the film worthwhile. The film deals with how a father-in-law tries to become a father to his daughter-in-law after the death of his son. He wants her to be happy and will do anything to see her happy, including going against old customs and his own family. He wants her to start a new life by re-marrying. Baabul is mainly for family audiences, but at times it may seem emotionally overloaded especially towards the latter half. Baabul has tried to merge the commercial aspect with an extremely sensitive topic and manages to do it well. However there are a few aspects which fall short, the pace and length of the film is too long and at times instead of showing the viewer, the film just preaches. Nonetheless Ravi Chopra’s attempt and sincerity in making Baabul clearly comes across and it is an emotional film that manages to touch the viewer’s heart.
Baabul belongs to the genre of family drama and has been produced under the banner of B. R Films. The film has been directed by Ravi Chopra and stars Amitabh Bachchan as Balraj Kapoor, Hema Malini as Shobhna, Rani Mukherjee as Milli, Salman Khan as Avinash, Om Puri as Balwant, John Abraham as Rajat and various other character actors. The music of the film has been composed by Aadesh Srivastava and the story has been written by Ravi Chopra and Achala Nagar.
Balraj Kapoor is a prosperous business man who has a doting wife Shobhna and an only son Avinash. Balraj is content with life and though his family is conservative, he has a modern outlook towards life. He is happy that his only son Avi has returned from the US and the two of them share an extremely warm relationship. The father-son duo are more like friends. Avi’s return calls for grand celebrations and his parents are thrilled. Avi meets Milli, a painter and a simple middle-class girl. Avi charms Milli and the two of them fall in love. They decide to get married with the blessings of their parents. And soon they have another happiness coming their way, Milli and Avi have a child, Ansh. The family is happy and everything is going fine when fate plays a cruel joke on the family.
Avi meets with an accident one day and the family is left bereft. Milli is devastated and cannot go on with her life without Avi. His son Ansh is what keeps Shobhna and Balraj going. But Balraj can see Milli’s plight and pain; he wants her to be happy once again, he wants her to go on with her life. Rajat is Milli’s old friend who has always secretly loved her but could never tell her. He is now pursuing his musical career in Europe. Balraj decides to look for Rajat and ask him to marry Milli and make her happy once more. But no one is on Balraj’s side, as they feel it is wrong to marry off the widowed Milli once more. Balraj’s elder brother Balwant is totally against this and even Balraj’s wife finds it difficult to come to terms with this phenomenal change. Will Balraj manage to bring colour back into Milli’s life, will Milli find happiness again?
Baabul has some extremely touching and emotional moments in the film, especially between Rani and Amitabh. The romance between Rani and Salman in the first half has been portrayed well and they share good chemistry onscreen. Even the light and witty moments are handled well. Director Ravi Chopra has managed to merge his socially relevant theme of widow-remarriage and the commercial aspects of Hindi cinema well. The climax is worthy, mature and original. Director Ravi Copra has handled the relationships between Amitabh-Salman, Amitabh-Rani extremely well. He has used the family drama to bring fore the important issue of age-old customs that are still prevalent in society.
However Baabul does have its share of cons, the script had many loopholes which could have been avoided and the pace of the screenplay was extremely slow and dragging at times. There was plenty of surrogate advertising which disrupted the audiences’ attention from the story. Also at times the film got extremely preachy. The first half is light while the second half is heavy with emotions, but the two halves should have had a better balance of emotions. Also in spite of the film being on widow-remarriage, the male protagonists are the ones who dominate the film while the female characters are relegated to the backburner.
Nonetheless Baabul does have good music by Aadesh Srivastava which often leaves you with a smile during the playful song ‘Come on Come on’, the song ‘Bawri Piya’ is sensuous, and ‘Kehta Hai Baabul’ is melancholic and touching. The songs have a classical inclination and are soft and sweet in keeping with the sensitive theme of the film. The sets are full of colour and have an energetic feel thanks to cinematographer Barun Mukherji. Dialogues by Achala are fine and the performances are fairly good.
Amitabh as usual brings grace and dignity to his character and his speeches are heartfelt and touching sometimes. He holds the entire film together and delivers a strong backbone like performance in the film. Rani Mukherjee’s performance is extremely apt and capable but although she does her part extremely well, she does not have any scenes which are phenomenal and doesn’t get a chance to take center stage. Also her look is getting extremely repetitive and her styling could be improved. Salman Khan does not go over the top and keeps his performance in check. He looks great and brings that boyish charm to his role. He plays the fun loving son, loving husband and father quite well. Hema Malini looks extremely pretty and delivers an average performance as she does not have a fairly meaty role. John Abraham is just about average and some how is not very convincing in this absolutely good boy get up. Om Puri goes a bit over the top with the family patriarch bit but is okay. The rest of the cast has small roles which don’t manage to leave much of a mark.
Baabul is a sensitive story and director Ravi Chopra has managed to throw in a bit of everything romance, humour, love, tears etc which are emotions that Indian audiences love. There are big stars like Amitabh, Rani, Salman, John etc which also make the film more attractive. Although the film has a few loopholes, the big picture manages to camouflage these and the audiences are left with a nice bitter sweet feeling. At the box-office the film will in all probability make quite a mark. An above average family film that will definitely appeal to the older and mature generation.