Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha (1998)

This film will always have a special place in my heart since it’s the first Hindi film I ever really watched. There’s a lot more on that topic here so I won’t go into it all again, but I was enchanted. From the sweet, funny romance to the lunatic embellishments, I loved it unreservedly. Ajay was so sexy, Kajol so cute; Kashmira Shah was such a vamp, and Om Puri so lovely as a cop with a heart of gold. I loved the scenery, the goofy stunts, the lively songs, the Ajay-Kajol chemistry. Oh Baghwan. It was so much fun!

When it was over, I watched it again.

Now, six years and hundreds of Hindi films later, I still love to watch it. Of course I am not the same wide-eyed novice who saw it that first time, but my deeper knowledge only adds depth to my appreciation. Kajol is still cute, Ajay still sexy—and now I know that they found each other so in real life too. I love Om Puri even more now, and have realized that Kashmira Shah dresses like a vamp in real life too!

Now I also know that the full-of-fun songs were written by Jatin-Lalit. And I know that Anees Bazmee, the director, has gone on to make other films that, against all limits of reason or common sense, I like as well: Deewangee, No Entry, Welcome (and looking forward to Singh is King).

Anyway, enough about me! On to the film (which is a remake of Hollywood’s French Kiss, by the way).

We meet Rahul and Sanjana in Paris, at a party thrown by their benevolent boss (Harish Patel) to celebrate Rahul’s (Bijay Anand) promotion. Rahul will be going on a business trip to India soon, and their boss urges him to take his fiancee Sanjana (Kajol) along as well. She is afraid of flying, and clumsy too.

He agrees when she begs to go too. Before they leave, she has something to show him: her dream house, which she is planning to buy with money she has put aside without him knowing. Sanjana is all alone in the world, and has dreamed of having a home and family for a long time.

She bails out of the trip at (literally) the last minute because her fear of flying overwhelms her. At first they talk regularly, but then Rahul’s calls become less frequent until he phones her one day, drunk.

He’s fallen in love with another girl, and says he’s not coming back. Hurt, bewildered and angry, Sanjana decides to fly to India and get him back. This time on the plane she is seated next to an Indian man, Shekhar (Ajay Devgan) who needles her about losing her fiance when she confides in him.

As she argues with him about her honor, the plane takes off without her even noticing. My heart melts at the realization that he’s got her pegged already, and distracted her on purpose. After a very goofy (and turbulent) flight featuring swamis, Hindu gods, Rastafarians, a Michael Jackson impersonator, and the discovery that Shekhar has stolen a diamond necklace in Paris, we all land in India.

At Customs & Immigration, Shekhar sees his friend and nemesis, Inspector Khan (Om Puri) waiting for him. He puts the plant cutting containing the stolen necklace into Sanjana’s purse, and follows her out of the airport. Inspector Khan intercepts him, and insists on accompanying him home. He is very fond of Shekhar, who once saved his life, and really wants him to give up stealing.

At the swanky hotel where Rahul is staying, Sanjana faints upon seeing Rahul with Nisha (Kashmira Shah).

Little did I know the first time I saw this that this liplock was a pretty rare occurrence in Hindi films! Sanjana’s luggage is stolen as she lies there unconscious. After some car chases and other mayhem, Shekhar gets Sanjana’s handbag back for her, although her suitcase is gone for good. He finds the plant, but realizes after they separate that the necklace has fallen into her handbag somehow.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel Sanjana discovers that Rahul and Nisha have taken a flight to Goa.

Shekhar just misses her, and runs into Inspector Khan, who has found out about the stolen necklace. Another car chase! (I also had no idea that Ajay was the son of a famous stunt director, and known as an action star) and Shekhar finally catches up to her on the train to Goa.

She is suspicious, but puts up with his presence. They are stranded in a village that night when Sanjana gets off the train because she’s ill and it leaves before she and Shekhar can reboard it.

Now comes my favorite part! They go to Shekhar’s home and family. Sanjana is welcomed with open arms, and joins in the preparations for Shekhar’s sister’s engagement party. She discovers that one of Shekhar’s nephews needs a heart operation.

The family’s warmth and love for Shekhar charms her, and she melts enough towards him to dance with him that evening (“Aaj Hai Sagaai”).

During the party Shekhar finds time to slip away and search Sanjana’s handbag for the necklace. Alas! it’s not there. He is heartbroken.

The next morning Shekhar’s father tells Sanjana that Shekhar also has a dream of buying all the family’s land back. It’s been sold off over the years to help pay bills. She sees him standing in a mustard field (shades of DDLJ, which I also had no idea about when I first watched this) and goes to talk to him. He offers her his friendship and his help—genuinely, this time.

She in turn asks about his dreams and jokingly wants to know if he plans to win a lottery. He tells her that he almost did.

Sweet! They head off for Goa to find Rahul and to sell the necklace—with Inspector Khan hot on their trail.

At Palam Beach, they check into the same hotel as Rahul and Nisha. There is only one room available, and Shekhar pays with a stolen credit card.

I didn’t get that little inside joke for a long time, either. Anyway, Shekhar coaches Sanjana in how to act with Rahul and Nisha and they embark on their scheme to win him back. They pretend to be a couple and arrange to “bump” into Rahul and Nisha constantly (another bouncy song, “Aashiq Hoon Main” accompanies these events).

Of course this act brings them closer to each other, too, and they fall in love without really realizing it.

If they do realize it, will it be too late? Will Sanjana get Rahul back? Will Shekhar get caught by Inspector Khan? To see the romance blossom, and for the answers to these questions (plus more silly mayhem that wasn’t in French Kiss, like gangsters in a mall), see Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha. It’s delightfully crazy and sweet, and literally changed my life!

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36 Comments to “Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha (1998)”

  1. Awwww. They look so sweet together. Why why WHY is this on my “very long wait” queue at Netflix? They need to buy more copies! :-) What’s with–is that Ganesha?–outside the plane window? Is it a dream or something?

  2. I love Ajay in romantic roles. And they are sweet together. Go to Nehaflix and buy it :-) It’s cheap! (if you can get a DVD not made by Video Sound, do it—the subtitles on this are sadly lacking in places, and lag behind or appear too soon in other places).

  3. I love this filum, it is just so cute and fun, and frothy also. I like this waaaay much better than French Kiss, Ajay was so cute also I could even forgive his backwass 1990’s hairstyle, but the fact that his moustache disappeared later made me really sad, as kevin kline had one throughout why not ajay. i love the movie but i grieve over the mush that made him seem so rugged and handsome and con-manly, and so anil kapoor like was the muoustache!

  4. NOW I get the kumar mangat joke- finally! but wont diss myslef too much sinc eim in ur esteemed company :D
    I also really like it when Om Puri does roles not these- sweet supportive characters sans angst.

  5. Rum: I was happy when the ‘stache was gone :-) I like him much better without it, thought he looked so lounge-lizardy with it. Hey, to each his (her) own!

    shweta: I’ve seen it at least 10 times w/o getting the Kumar Mangat thing. Ah well. And Om Puri was great.

  6. So many rag on Bollywood for ripping off Hollywood movies. But I saw “French Kiss,” and I can tell already that I’m going to like this a million times more. In many cases, Bollywood is actually IMPROVING its source material.

  7. Anarchivist: I certainly liked it better, and actually wrote a post a while ago about Bollywood’s improvements to Hollywood films here :-) I am happy to find those in agreement with me!

  8. and ajnabi: I forgot to say that the god on the motorbike is Shiva, I believe, and he appears there (somewhat a la “The Twilight Zone”) during the bad turbulence when they all think they’re going to die (but don’t put their seatbelts on, or assume the crash position, since it IS kind of pointless…they just keep drinking and singing and dancing) :-)

  9. I remember how reluctantly I went to watch this movie in the theatre and then instantly fell in love with it. The romance is so very well done here that inspite of the absence of Kevin Kline its still better than French Kiss! :-)

    I hate to parade my ignorance, but I’m really curious. What is the “Kumar Mangat joke”?

  10. It’s not ignorance, it probably means you don’t read the gossip pages as assiduously as I do :-) Kumar Mangat is Ajay Devgan’s long-time secretary, who has also become a producer of films. He just launched his daughter in some film (I forget which).

    Yes, the romance is just lovely here, even sans Kevin Kline (whom I also adore, btw).

  11. Of course – Mangat is the guy who produced Omakara. Read a lot about him in Stephen Alter’s Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief. Cant believe I forgot that!!!!

  12. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing your experiences with this film, Memsaab. This film, more than DDLJ, made me a Kajol fan. She was phenomenal in ‘Aaj Hai Sagaai’. U Me Aur Hum is releasing soon on DVD, I’ll be sure to watch it.

  13. I agree with you. ‘Pyaar to hona hi that’ is more fun than the Meg Ryan film. What I enjoyed more in this post was your link ‘Why Hindi movies?” Loved your photo by the way, with hat gorgeous necklace and earrings. And that big open :)

  14. Kajol and Ajay are two of my all-time favourite actors – I once wrote a very silly, cheesy bit of fluff about them here:

    I haven’t caught ‘Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha’ yet, and I’m really looking forward to it, especially after reading this and seeing the screencaps. Reading this also reminded me of a couple of days ago, when I stumbled upon this random video on YouTube:

    I think it’s really cute and Kajol and Ajay seemed to react just the way I thought they would. I especially love the bit right at the end…

  15. theBollywoodFan: Yes, she can dance—and Ajay actually danced in that song too! I really was looking forward to U Me Aur Hum although the reviews were so bad I’m a little afraid now.

    Banno: :-) that photo was taken in a jewellery store in Bombay…I almost just moved in lock stock and barrel to live there. They let me try on all kinds of beautiful jewels that they knew I had no intention (read: means) of buying!

    DG: love your post on him, thanks for the link, and also the YouTube one was great! :-) They seem very happy together, they complement each other well. I don’t think Kajol would mind that we have a crush on her husband!

  16. I’m with Anarchivist that this movie is a lot better than its source material but I still don’t really are for it. That said, one of my favorite memories is watching this with my best friend and rolling about in laughter, esp during the plane sequence. This is a movie to be seen in company I think.

  17. Some of it is just ludicrous but that’s part of the charm for me :-)

  18. Memsaab, I notice that this was made around the same time as Ishq, which is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. I’m thrilled that there’s an Ajay/Kajol film which is sweet and silly and romantic (instead of violent and pointless).

    I’m with you about Ajay’s ‘stache, though–he couldn’t lose it soon enough (perhaps only Kevin Kline can truly carry it off)…

  19. I remember watching this film in a small theater in a small town, Tiruvannamalai, with a foreigner! The ticket was ten bucks, and it was a disaster because I was explaining everything to him in English. And his questions were so basic, that during the interval two south Indians sitting behind told both of us to shut up or get out.

  20. Pessimisissimo: I liked Ishq, but it was very silly :-)

    Grasshopper: That’s a great story :-D I have to say that I don’t think I would have required translation for it, much like another Bazmee film, Welcome, which I saw in a theater in Bombay. I had no trouble keeping up with the plot without subtitles or translation!

  21. talkin about inside jokes..was watchin sita aur geeta d oder day…sanjeev kumar’s father claims he has to meet a jweller called harihar zariwala…i was in splits…

  22. Ooh, I’ve missed that reference. Will have to look for it, v. funny :-)

  23. A late post! But I presume the god outside the plane window is Yama – or god of death. He tends to make appearances everytime there is a turbulence outside my plane window as well, though not so graphically.
    When he is busy (or in other versions) he tends to send his couriers and htey are then called Yamadoot. Since this guy outside is riding a motorbike and not a waterbuffalo he might just be a Yamadoot! ;-)

  24. It undoubtedly is—too funny you post this now, because I have just watched Bhai Ho To Aisa where Jagdeep disguises himself as Yama in order to take his beloved away from her parents who aren’t willing to get them married. He shows up on a water buffalo and it’s just hysterically funny.

  25. Jagdeep! Great, Jagdeep as Yama must be worth a shriek!
    Thin, lanky Jagdeep as the fat, pot-bellied Yama (at least in indian movies. quite possible, that Yama ist tall, dark, slim and lean fellow). Looking forward to your Bhai Ho To Aisa review.

    You know, Memsaab, I think, I won’t even watch these movies even if somebody offers me money for it (okay depends upon the amount) but I always look forward to your reviews. Carry on the good job!

  26. Great Entry! I don’t know whether you’ve watched “Dil Kya Kare”? The movie has Mahima, Devgan, Kajol and Chandrachur Singh (who looks good in this movie at least). So if you like this Kajol-Devgan pair, this movie with it’s intense drama and Mahima Chowdhury looking its best might hold your interest.

    I’d recommend it! :-)

  27. the film was a nice romantic film though a remake of french kiss
    i hope anees does such films now

    Ajay and kajol had g8 chemistry and this is their only hit film together as a solo couple
    after marraige their films like raju chacha, dil kya kare didn’t work

  28. Hey Memsaab,

    I just watched this story. As like you, This movie also has a place in my heart and searching for a good DVD Source for this.


    • Hey there friend! My dvd of it is from Video Sound—I am not sure if they are still in business, but it’s not bad although the subtitles are out of sync in places…which probably wouldn’t matter to you :) Try eBay!

  29. Very nice post with a nice sequence of screen caps interacting well with the text, even though i ‘m glad i only read this post after seeing the whole movie (my usual procedure anyway).

    Thanks for explaininig the Kumar Mangat joke in the comments, would have died without that information.

    I personally don’t like Ajay Devgan in romantic moments, he is just a sleeping pill, like here, or in HDDCS or – shudder, shudder – in U, Me aur Hum, again with his now wife Kajol. I really can digest him only in action, best might be the grim Company.

  30. One other thing, i’ve got this movie on a MoserBaer DVD – the image quality is terrible, as if they had filmed it off a lo-fi Youtube broadcast. There isn’t even any advertising on that MoserBaer DVD, maybe because they were aware of the very low quality. The subtitles have some spelling errors and appear to short in times, but are not a major nuisance compared to the image quality.

  31. Hi Memsaab.. just one small footnote – Chori Chori-s music is by Sajid Wajid, not Jatin Lalit. I love the songs though… specially the slow and subtle “Aate Aate”…

  32. One of my favourite too…. Can watch again and again.. Till date when ever its on air, this movie is my preference… Thanks for writing a review on this…..

  33. i love pooji so much my jaan

  34. Excellent on screen chemistry between the leads. A romantic soundtrack only added to the films’ impending success. Kajol looked lovely. Yes in the starting some funny slap scenes were there where Kajol slaps Shekhar. Alos it differes from the Hollywood flick wherein Megh Ryan just after she realizes that she loved Kevin more and hence, leaves her boy friend in a friendlier manner. In the Hindi movie, Kajol gives thunderous tight slaps to her boy friend, after getting him back from an another girl for whom Kajol’s boy friend was avoiding her. The film is a must watch for Kajol lovers since she looked very strong in this movie.

  35. I also like to explain my love for Hindi films as stemming from my love for extremes.

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