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Yash Chopra's cross-border love story "Veer-Zaara" is running to packed houses.

NO MATTER what one says now about this much-hyped Yash Chopra film it would be redundant in the face of the enormous success the film is becoming.

All the liturgy about how it's the same clichéd story about star crossed lovers, never mind if they belong to different nationalities, becomes a wasted exercise when one realises that sentimentality, lovely locations, soft camera work, good looking stars (who perform well) and endless feel good songs is the stuff Bollywood is made of and it sells. And how! "Veer-Zaara" is running to packed houses and you have several youngsters applauding the love one man shows for the woman he met briefly in the prime of his youth. And she is no less loyal.

Despite being born into a wealthy politically well known Muslim family in Pakistan, she is ready to sacrifice her all for this man who literally shows her the world — his India — if one must be more specific!

Veer Pratap Singh (Shah Rukh) is an air force rescue pilot. And there is Zaara (Preity Zinta) the much pampered daughter of a rich family, whose main aim in life seems to be to keep Zaara skipping and happy. But she has a mind of her own and believes women need to walk along with men and not behind!

To fulfil her surrogate mother's wish (who is a Sikh left behind in Pakistan during the Partition and who has served the Muslim household very faithfully) to have her remains immersed in a river in Punjab, Zaara undertakes a fateful journey without any one's knowledge.

The bus Zaara travels in falls down a gorge and rescuing people is Veer. Hanging by a rope mid air in the middle of a rescue operation, Veer discovers love at first sight. With him is this beautiful stranger. They touch ground and her bag drops into the gorge and she screams. She must have that bag or she will jump. Angry but not knowing what to do Veer takes her back to pick up the bag.

Later on terra firma he admonishes her for her childishness and selfishness. The bag contains the ashes of her nanny and Zaara tells Veer that and he is floored.

Zaara achieves her mission with teary zeal while Veer continues to hopelessly fall in love with her.

When it is time for her to go back to Lahore, she thanks him for all that he has done and asks how she can repay him. It is a Yash Chopra film and you can be sure there can be nothing indecent about what he would ask her.

``One day of your life," he asks. ``When I can show you my folks, my country and everything that is important to me." She agrees.

She meets his adopted parents — a hearty Amitabh and a beautiful, coy Hema Malini (a `madrasi,' incidentally).

Zaara now has to go back. To her land, to her fiancée and her own life. Just about the time veer was going to ask her to marry him! So what happens?

Twenty-two years later, the whole story unfolds when Veer is in a Pakistani jail and has a young lawyer on her first case trying to help him get back to India.

Saamiya (Rani Mukherjee) finds herself very drawn to his tragic story and vows to get him justice. And by doing so gets the best lines and action in the film. It's a marvellous performance.

``Veer Zaara" is inordinately long and sentimental. Certain things like fabulous camera work, art direction and sensuousness of the moods, are a given. And you would over look the clichés simply because there are such good performances, especially from Preity and Rani.

Shah Rukh, who has done several similar roles, looks good and performs most creditably.

The music is - typically ornate and fussy, but does make you hum some of them much later. Go for this film when you are in a mellow mood and with plenty of time on hand.


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