Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai (meaning "Just a Little Dream") was released in 2001 and stars Abhishek Bachchan as Suraj, Rani Mukerji as Pooja, Jackie Shroff as Naved Ali and Sushmita Sen as Lara. A Hindi language film, it was filmed entirely on location in India.
Suraj moves to Mumbai from his small village to study for his degree and make his way in life. At college he falls in love with the beautiful Pooja and they dream of their future together. Naved Ali is a media tycoon and has long been one of Suraj's idol. Suraj is over the moon when Naved Ali visits his college and states that the student with the best results will be granted a scholarship to Harvard - Suraj tells Naved Ali that he will be that student! At the end of the year Suraj is neck and neck with another student so a tie-breaker 100m race is set to take place. Unfortunately Suraj doesn't make the race as he saves a man's life instead and becomes famous overnight due to this. Naved Ali take Suraj under his wing with his right hand woman, the beautiful Lara priming Suraj for the spotlight. As Suraj becomes more famous, Pooja becomes more and more concerned that the fame is going to his head. Does Suraj achieve his dreams of fame and fortune? Does he find happiness with Pooja or does he end up alone? What are Naved Ali's real motives for pushing Suraj into the spotlight?
Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai is a rags to riches story of an ambitious village boy who makes it big in the city. The first half of the film shows Suraj at home in his village with his family, keeping newspaper clippings in a scrapbook of people whom he idolises. His mother encourages his dreams as well as his younger sister. We see him go through college as a good student, making friends easily, studying hard, getting involved in sporting activities, generally being a good all rounder. He also gets the gorgeous girl. Well, isn't this all just a little bit too good to be true in the first half of the story?
The second half of the story also follows in a similar vein - everything happens a bit too easily! Whilst Suraj studies by day, he drives a cab by night, the cab is owned by one Sardar Sweety Singh (Sweety - yes, a very masculine name for Gulshan Grover, more famous for playing the villain). Sweety Singh has a lot of affection for Suraj and on the day of the race which will determine whether or not Suraj will get the scholarship to Harvard some thugs just happen to be beating the hell out of a guy who asks Sweety for help, Sweety takes on the thugs whilst Suraj drives the guy to the hospital, thereby saving his life. The guy happens to be an undercover cop so Suraj is hailed as a hero in the press. When Pooja (quite rightly) points out that Sweety was actually the one who kept the thugs at bay so Suraj could get away to the hospital and asks why he isn't being hailed as a hero, we start to see the first signs of their relationship breaking down - Suraj is enjoying being the hero even though he still seems quite humble at this stage and he treats Pooja quite poorly from then on implying she is jealous about his fame. It's obvious to her character and to the viewer that he is changing and not for the better and added to that, we have the sultry Lara popping up all the time, priming Suraj for more limelight. It's rather too obvious that there are ulterior motives; it's strange that Suraj doesn't see what's in front of his nose. There were a lot of inconsistencies in the plot that riled me whilst watching but as soon as the film was over, I didn't give them much of a second thought. If the film was supposed to have a big moral at the end of it, I didn't really get it. Maybe if I had watched this as a naïve college student I might have viewed it differently but as a mature adult who has worked for a living for over two decades, it's hard to stomach a storyline of rags to riches gained so easily. It just doesn't happen that way in real life.
In the film there's also a sub-plot about students rioting and setting themselves alight for their woes to be heard. Erm, over-dramatic much? Killing yourself to get students' rights doesn't really achieve a lot or does it? You'd kind of be DEAD at the end of the day, wouldn't you?! It could only be fiction right? Then again, the behaviour seen by students during this year in the UK might not have believed if we hadn't seen it ourselves on the news and seen it on our own streets!
Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai maybe was trying to sell to its audiences that Indians still hold traditional values dear and show that you can achieve your dreams but you don't need to step over people's (dead) bodies to do it. It seemed somewhat preachy to me and I didn't sit there at the end of the film feeling satisfied with the ending (well the ending was satisfactory in some ways) but I didn't think to myself "There! That showed THEM!" For starters I was bored of the story during the first half - the college part just dragged on for too long and then the second half, even though well over an half seemed to be just patched together, I kept thinking I'd missed something important but I hadn't, it was just rather too vague in some places.
This was one of Abhishek Bachchan's earlier films and it shows in his acting. The unsure of himself village boy persona at the start of the film seems credible but mainly because Bachchan was probably playing himself, rather unsure of himself. He seemed this way throughout most of the movie. I feel loathe to criticise him as I do rather adore this actor but I have to be honest. The lead might have been better acted by someone else. Jackie Shroff as Naved Ali was pretty convincing in most of his scenes, I prefer to see him in negative roles these days as he's past playing the "hero"! Sushmita Sen shone in every scene she appeared in. She is just stunning but she didn't have a main part, as with the lovely Rani Mukerji - shame as they might have made the film more watchable if they'd had bigger parts. I felt they were used more as eye candy for male viewers than anything else.
The 4 or 5 songs in the film were instantly forgettable. I didn't enjoy any of them and wouldn't recognise them if I heard them again as being from this film. I can't say much about the merits of the cinematography as there was nothing about this aspect that actually stood out. There were a couple of action scenes in the film for which I felt they should have employed a different stunt director, as they looked extremely fake! Also the dialogue for much of the film was rather clichéd, are you getting the impression I wasn't overly impressed with this film?
I suppose it's rather telling that the director and screenwriter for this film, Goldie Behl, has only done one other film called Drona in 2008 (which was a flop and also starred Abhishek Bachchan).
I can't really give Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai more than 2 out of 5 stars. Not recommended!
Release date: 2001
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Sushmita Sen, Jackie Shroff, Gulshan Grover, Sharat Saxena
Director: Goldie Behl
Producer: Madhu Ramesh Behl
Cinematography: Sameer Arya
Music: Aadesh Shrivastava
Playback singers: Kay Kay, Sonu Nigam, Roop Kumar Rathod, Shaan, Alka Yagnik
Duration: 170 minutes
Certification: 12 (although I don't think a 12 year old would find this entertaining)