अन्दाज़ अपना अपना
Comedy, I think, is the genre of Bollywood film that is most inaccessible to westerners. It is difficult to translate humor across languages and cultures under the best of circumstances, and there seems to be something particularly baffling about Bollywood comedy. The genre tends toward broad farce, slapstick, and lots and lots of yelling. Andaz apna apna ("to each his own style") is exemplary of the broad humor and loud slapstick that characterizes Bollywood comedy. Yet thanks to some unique aspects, it stands out in the genre - to some viewers, at least - as one of the most entertaining Bollywood comedies there is.
Amar (Aamir Khan) is a schemer and a dreamer. After his get-rich-quick plans fail; he encounters what appears to be the opportunity of a lifetime: Raveena (Raveena Tandon), the daughter of a tycoon living abroad, is back in India looking for a husband. Determined to make himself the lucky guy, he sets off to meet her. On the way he meets Prem (Salman Khan), and the two quickly fall into a fierce rivalry to win the heiress's heart. Prem is distracted by the attentions of Raveena's friend Karisma (Karisma Kapoor), who takes quite a liking to him. In the meantime, Raveena's father's estranged twin brother hatches a scheme to co-opt the family riches, and sets his inept henchmen to kidnap Raveena. All kinds of silly fun ensues, as the boys carry on their escalating games of one-upmanship while thwarting the bad guys, and - against their better judgment - falling in love, Aamir with Raveena and Prem with Karisma. The result is a movie that is cute and fun, with a manic tone and a generous helping over-the-top silliness.
Part of what sets Andaz apna apna apart from other loud, raucous slapstick films is its keen sense of self-awareness. The film is loaded with inside jokes and self-referential humor. Scenes poke fun at Bollywood cliches, at classic films, and at aspects of the stars' real lives. Unfortunately, most of the jokes of this ilk would be incomprehensible to viewers without a thorough store of Bollywood history to draw on - the numerous Sholay references, the hysterical fantasy sequences with Juhi Chawla, the silly "dishoom dishoom" of the fight scenes - all are very funny but would be utterly baffling to the newcomer.
The other factor that really makes Andaz apna apna worth watching is its adorable stars. Both Aamir and Salman were young, fresh-faced, and cute, and in this film they both bring exuberant silliness, terrific physical comedy skills, and great timing to the table. Both their characters are dumb goofballs who think they are clever, and both step into those personae with a delightfully earnest innocence. Their hilarious buddy chemistry and cuteness makes up for the host of irritating supporting characters running around in the film.
Finally, Andaz apna apna features some fun songs, though they share the film's manic, over. the-top sensibility. My favorite is "Yeh raat aur yeh doori," but the others are lots of fun too. Unfortunately I can't find just the songs on YouTube - the entire film is up there, in about 25 segments, without subtitles.