Get your hands off my man Rekha, Karishma and I say!
Zubeidaa, I absolutely adored this movie, it was rich and satisfying like a nice chocolate brownie, apparently this was based on the screen writer's mother Zubeida the actress from the early talkies of Indian cinema, who also married the Maharajah of Fatehpur as his second wife and killed in a suspicious plane crash. I had always had a soft spot in movie encrusted heart for Karishma Kapoor, she was a fantastic actress but she was stuck in a rut of doing tooooooo many comedy roles with Govinda and Salman Khan, and when he matured into a serious actress in 2000 onwards I was so happy, then she cut her winning streak short by getting married! Ohh what marriage does to actresses!! I think in her great serious roles this is my favorite including Fiza.
The movie starts with Riyaz(Rajit Kapur) searching for some evidence of his mother, Zubeidaa(Karishma Kapoor) is a spunky free spirited girl who wants to become an actress, but her domineering father Suleiman(oviously the most domineering is Amrish Puri) who is a film producer, doesn't allow this. One day she sneaks off to shoot a film with the lovely song Main Albeli, her father finds out and bans her from the studio and doesn't let her go to school in Switzerland which sounds like the same school Nutan went to. Her mother Faiyyazi(Surekha Sikri) is a docile and submissive woman, who doesn't oppose her husband, even when he takes up an unofficial second wife Rosie(Lillete Dubey). Zubeidaa's father arranges her marriage very quickly to a family friend, the two lovebirds have a child quickly as usual, but as usual the father screws over his friend, who demands a divorce for his son. Again Zubeidaa is in melancholy, but Rosie breaks her out of her shell and takes her out to see a polo match. After the game they meet Victor(Manoj Bajpai) a very HAWT (SORRY) prince, he is smitten with Zubeidaa, she's a bit worried of his intentions. But when a BOLLyKISS happens you know that cemented their love, they meet a few times and he proposes to her. Her mother intervenes and interrogates him she'll let Zubeidaa go if she gives her Riyaz. The way she said it readers was very icy and cold, wonderful acting. So Zubeidaa leaves for Fatehpur with Victor who is Maharaja Vijay-long name over in the palaces she meets the icy but polite Hindu queen Mandira(Rekha) Zubeidaa's spunky bohemian nature is a perfect foil for the queen's politeness. A bit of foiling, arguements, embarassment, and MANOJ BAJPAI'S HOTNESS factor bouncing off the screen, Zubeidaa is tired of this lifestyle and when Maharaja Victor-long name goes out to contest the elections he brings his suitable Hindu wife, but Zubeidaa runs in and insists she goes along, and the director leaves you with a bit of thinking about the crash, which gave a chin scratching, invisble wise beard stroking hmmmm moment.
The acting here is stellar, Karishma is wonderful as Zubeidaa many could see her performance as whiny and rubbish, but she fits into that free spirit character greatly and she handles her scenes with such elan, and it made me screams "KARISHMA come back to Cinema" and the cameraman obviously fell in love with her beautiful Raj Kapoor-esque green eyes, though mostly she looks like Babita. Manoj Bajpai is verrrry HAWT, forgive as I am still 17 maybe when I'm 18 I'll say Manoj was "refined beauty or exquisite or sumptuously delicioulsy handsome" and his performance is excellent as Victor, though he doesn't look like a conventional gori prince he makes up for it in performance. Rekha is brilliantly icy and politely rude(paradox, oxymoron? who cares, you get me) and her royal attire makes her look soo regal and elegant. Rajit Kapur as her son is good and competent, Amrish is bellowy and at his best being an angry dad, Lillete embodies the spirit of the Anglo-Indian actresses that came along in the talkies era, and Surekha another great turn for her as the long suffering mum of some so impetuous and impulsive.
I definitely reccommend Zubeidaa, its a wonderful period piece by Shyam Benegal who seems to be bridging a gap of masala usual Bollywood with paralell art cinema, it rocks! Watch it for Karishma or even to stare at the HANDSOME ATTACK that is Manoj Bajpai who really pulls off princely kurta's and pagadi well! HAWTNESS!