Even the best Bollywood actress of her time has an off day, occasionally. HOTE HOTE PYAAR HO GAYA was released back in 1999 and is a far cry from her best pictures, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (2DISC SET) and Kuch kuch hota hai (by the way, one of my all-time favorite Bollywood films). HOTE HOTE PYAAR HO GAYA is one of those projects which came out so badly that one wonders what the filmmakers were thinking at the time. As much as I dig Kajol, I can't really recommend this movie.
But I don't mind laying out the plot: Pinky and Bunty (Kajol and Atul Agnihotri), both wilful young people, meet in college and rapidly fall for each other. But, as in most Bollywood romances, tradition rears its head. Bunty's father had already promised to marry him off to his best friend's meek and traditional daughter Shobha (Ayesha Jhulka). Pinky, too, finds herself trapped in her own upcoming arranged marriage, as she's paired off with a seasoned Police Inspector named Arjun (Jackie Shroff).
Reality sets in as Pinky and Bunty acknowledge that their lack of future finances makes eloping an unsavory option. They have to keep their parents happy. So, instead, they decide to act on Bunty's aunt's scheme: to obey their parents for now and wed their respective spouses - and then sabotage their marriages and get that divorce. Except that plans have a way of hitting a snag...
Unless you're a Kajol completist, avoid this one. HOTE HOTE PYAAR HO GAYA is about as contrived, predictable and cliched as Bollywood can get. There are echoes here of HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM (a.k.a. Straight From the Heart) and of Cousin, Cousine, but the feeble presentation of these similar themes only reminds one of how truly good those other films are. Even Kajol, beautiful and talented as she is, can't rescue this slop. And the two male leads are woefully miscast. The wheels fall off early on as a weak romance is introduced between Kajol and Atul Agnihotri's characters, both of whom go on to demonstrate how insufferably spoiled and deceitful they are. And as for Agnihotri's Bunty, the ill treatment he showers on his patient wife Shobha and then his petty jealousies make him even a bigger jerk; and, it turns out, he's pretty fickle, too. But perhaps the most exasperating character here is Bunty's aunt, whose silly advice causes all this mess in the first place. And she keeps on meddling.
The film doesn't improve any with the appearance of Jackie Shroff, who I think is two hundred and seven years old (with his mustache possibly being even older). Jackie is picked as Kajol's suitor because her father believes he's mature enough to handle her mischievous behavior. But we all know Jackie's there to make the youthful Agnihotri seem even more enticing. Yet, the age disparity isn't that big a deal. What buckles the film's knees is that Jackie Shroff's leaden acting undermines whatever chemistry could've been developed between him and Kajol.
The romantic arcs run parallel to a subplot involving Arjun's run-ins with an underworld don and his hapless henchmen. This includes the don's son whose tendency to spasm when nervous always causes him to shoot the person next to his target (it is kind of funny, though). However, this police drama subplot tends to add even more unwieldiness to the film. The movie's ending, by the way, is so over-the-top ridiculous that I went and kicked my puppy.
The moral of the story is that infatuation and fleeting passion will collapse in the face of a true marriage. This is also yet another in a long line of Hindi films where the parents know best. But when these messages are delivered so awkwardly and heavy-handedly, they lose their potential impact. HOTE HOTE PYAAR HO GAYA is a movie I'm pretty sure I won't see again. As much as I worship Kajol, even she can't rise above her remarkably bratty and unlikable role. And, without Kajol wielding her magic, my interest collapses faster than the people standing next to that shaky guy's targets.