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Jul 12, 2008 at 09:29am IST

Mehbooba has got all the trappings of an 80s potboiler

Cast: Manisha Koirala, Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt

Director: Afzal Khan

Checking into cinemas this week, some nine odd years after it began filming, director Afzal Khan's Mehbooba is the kind of blast from the past that's best forgotten.

Ajay Devgan stars as a hapless romantic who's dreamt up an imaginary girlfriend whose portraits he's painted across the walls of his Budapest home. Surprise, surprise, his dreamgirl turn up in the form of Manisha Koirala, and convinced she's the one for him, he chases her no end. Manisha turns down his many romantic overtures, finally revealing that she was used and abused by a man who claimed to love her. Heartbroken for life, she says she cannot love again. Overwhelmed by Ajay's affection, Manisha agrees eventually to give love another chance.

Cut to India, at Ajay's family home in Rajasthan where the couple is to be engaged. Now comes the twist – you've got to be stupid if you didn't guess it already – Manisha's tormentor Sanjay Dutt turns out to be who else, but Ajay's brother. Worse still, Sanjay regrets the way he treated her, and is now in love with her himself.

Archaic in its storytelling, Mehbooba is the kind of film that went out of fashion many, many years ago. It's got all the trappings of an eighties potboiler – love triangle, family drama, mistaken identities, revenge and sacrifice. Sitting there watching Mehbooba on screen, you cannot help but giggle at the sheer silliness of the film and its format, one that has thankfully become obsolete now.

Having said that one must admit that Mehbooba has scale. Whether it's Ashok Mehta's lush cinematography of picture-postcard Budapest, or the larger-than-life approach with which the director shoots his many songs. Alas, it's a pity these resources were wasted in a film as pointless as this. Mehbooba is the kind of film that reminds us why we got tired of watching the same kind of movies over and over again. It's not a terrible film, it's just a thoroughly boring one.

I'll go with one out of five for director Afzal Khan's Mehbooba, if there's one thing I actually enjoyed about this film it's the sight of Manisha Koirala looking fresh as a daisy. So fresh that I fell right back in love with her again. You see, this film was shot before time and alcohol took their toll.

Rating: 1 / 5 (Poor)