Movie Review: LAMHE (1991) – A Love Story Way Ahead Of Its Time
There are very few films that can be called ahead of its time. Films that might not seem like they’re amazing, but can stand the test of time and continue to be awesome. LAMHE is such a film.
A film by legendary Bollywood director Yash Chopra, who recently passed away, LAMHE was a story that was handled with such sensitivity that the subject matter never once seemed offensive given the content.
Rating: 3 Out Of 5
LAMHE is about Anil Kapoor’s Viren, an Indian prince who was born and brought up in London, returning home to take care of some administrative matters. Once back in India, he falls in love with the country and a local neighbor. His love isn’t returned, however he does everything to ensure she is happy by marrying her off to her choice.
Side note: Coolest thing about this part of the story is, that there are no long drawn out melodramatic monologues by Anil Kapoor about ‘love lost’ and etc. There’s 1 scene with a few harsh truths, and that’s it. Him taking responsibility for the wedding of the girl he loves to someone else isn’t dragged on to make us feel sympathetic or pity for Viren… which is something employed by Bollywood to this day!
Continuing: Things take a turn for the worst when the girl’s husband dies in an accident, and she is hospitalized in early labor (she’s pregnant by now). She dies during birth leaving behind an infant daughter, which Viren takes on the responsibility of supporting financially.
Now where things get weird in LAMHE, is when that little girl grows up revering her benefactor, a now older Viren, as the only father figure / man in her life. From an early age she develops feeling for this man, who constantly avoids her (she reminds him of his love’s death) but still takes care of her from a distance.
So basically you’ve got a 20-something girl, in love with a, possibly 50-something man, who used to love her mother. Now add to the mix that the girl looks EXACTLY like her mother… and you’ve got a classic story with extreme nuances.
LAMHE isn’t creepy, odd or at all uncomfortable to watch. The love story elements are handled with such maturity and sensitivity, that despite the subject matter, it’s not gratuitous or exploitative. Viren’s reaction to this young girl declaring her feelings for him is probably how the audience reacted watching the story unfold.
There are elements of LAMHE that can’t be explained at face value. Some scenes are punctuated without dialogue or explanation, but through the emotions of the actors’ and their performances that make the audience go ‘ohhh I get why!!’
Director Yash Chopra doesn’t dumb down the movie for a certain audience, he leaves a lot unsaid and sets up the situation to be understood as is. The softness, with which he approached the story, truly was ahead of that decade. Considering even to this day, in both Hollywood and Bollywood, a generational age gap in a relationship is seen as taboo or unconventional… LAMHE depicted a love story with extenuating circumstances that went beyond the immature concepts of love previously established by Bollywood.
What makes LAMHE even more amazing is that the lead actress, in a dual role was the now legendary Sridevi! Playing both the girl younger Viren fell in love with, as well as her daughter, Sridevi handles both roles with such class and exuberance that I didn’t realize how much I missed her performances, until re-watching LAMHE.
Especially when playing the younger and immature girl, Sridevi was able to turn on the immature giggle, and switch to the mature and cold hard stares, so seamlessly that it spoke volumes about her talent.
LAMHE is cemented as a ‘classic Yash Chopra film’… and it’s not hard to see why.