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Preity Zinta
Preity, Mahima, Rekha: a formidable trio
Kundan Shah's Dil Hai Tumhaara is an ode to femininity

Subhash K Jha

Not too many people know that in his 24 years as filmmaker, commerce graduate Kundan Shah has made only five feature films. His debut, the cult comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani), was released in 1983.

Shah made his next film ten years later, a romantic comedy Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (Shah Rukh Khan, Suchitra Krishnamurthy). After a seven-year hiatus, Shah resurfaced with two more films --- Kya Kehna! (Preity Zinta, Saif Ali Khan, Chandrachur Singh) and Hum To Mohabbat Karega (Bobby Deol, Karisma Kapoor), within weeks of each other.

While everyone expected the latter to click, the former became the surprise hit of 2000.

Kundan Shah's fifth film Dil Hai Tumhaara (Rekha, Preity Zinta, Mahima Chaudhry, Arjun Rampal, Jimmy Shergill), has its own story. It was to be made ten years ago by filmmaker Raj Kumar Santoshi for Tips (the music company). But when Santoshi got busy with other projects, Tips approached Shah to make a film out of Santoshi's script. A readymade music score by Nadeem-Shravan was also provided. Shah did not attend a single music recording. He simply took over Santoshi's script and Nadeem-Shravan's music and made his film.

Rampal and Zinta were signed long before they became stars. Incidentally, Shah discovered Shah Rukh Khan in a television serial called Circus. He gave Zinta her first author-backed role in Kya Kehna!. Chances are Rampal will have his first bonafide hit in Dil Hai Tumhaara.

The ladies take centerstage in Shah's domestic drama. Rekha, after her acclaimed performance in her last film, Lajja, plays mother to Zinta and Chaudhry. This is the first time she has played mother to contemporary leading ladies. Incidentally, she also plays mother to Hrithik Roshan in Rakesh Roshan's Koi Mil Gaya.

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Dil Hai Tumhaara sees Rekha as a politician with a dark secret. This would not be difficult for the enigmatic actress. She has also been projected with a lot of restraint. Zinta plays the contrasting character of an exuberant, bubbly girl. She has a marked advantage footage-wise. Chaudhry has been cast as the prim and proper elder daughter.

With Dil Hai Tumhaara, Shah returns to the woman-centric ambience of Kya Kehna!. As in the earlier film where Khan and Singh were reduced to supporting roles, Rampal and Shergill have distinct supporting roles in this ladies' show.

Kundan Shah In a sense, this film pays a nodding homage to the great woman-oriented films from Guru Dutt’s Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi in the 1960s to Kalpana Lajmi's Rudaali in the 1990s, where Dimple Kapadia and Raakhee took the front seat, while the male members of the cast (Raj Babbar, Raghuvir Yadav, Amjad Khan) were cast in the shadows.

However, distributors claim that films with heroines at the helm take longer to make an impact at the box-office. Of course, they usually attract women audiences. If one adds Nadeem-Shravan's amiable music score to the delicate feminine demeanour, Dil Hai Tumhaara stands a good chance of making a dent at the box-office.

The film is critical to Shah, who needs to prove himself at the box-office so that his long-delayed comedy Ek Se Badhkar Ek (Raveena Tandon, Sunil Shetty, Shekhar Suman), will be released.

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