Yash Chopra۪s Darr۪ released way back in 1993, and defied several stereotypes in its time. It made the anti-hero cool۪, turned the concept of a love triangle upside down and undoubtedly it is considered one of the landmark films of Shah Rukh Khan۪s career.
In his first collaboration with Midas man, Yash Chopra, Khan plays an eccentric, reclusive and shy Rahul Mehra dangerously obsessed with his college crush Kiran Awasthi (Juhi Chawla). Kiran is unaware of his feelings and is in love with and subsequently engaged to Sunil Malhotra, a navy officer (Sunny Deol). Rahul۪s obsession consumes his life so much so that he then starts stalking Kiran, going as far as attempting to murder Sunil but failing several times. The film climaxes on a yacht on a stormy night (a la Cape Fear۪ (1991)), with Sunil coming to rescue Kiran who۪s been abducted by Rahul.
Darr۪ was the second film in which Khan played the villain (the first one being the equally successful – Baazigar۪ -in the same year). He followed it up with Anjaam۪ in 2004 but failed to score a hattrick as the latter performed disastrously at the box office and was slammed by critics and audiences alike. It was also the film after which Khan۪s career sky-rocketed to super-stardom and rumour had it that both Ajay Devgn and Aamir Khan rued the day when they turned down the role, as both of their careers were in the doldrums at the time.
Typically, as is the case with most of Chopra’s heroines, the film was also a landmark for leading actress Chawla who looked breathtaking, and changed outfits the maximum number of times compared to any heroine at the time (she wore a record 80 100 outfits) and it was after this film that she was considered to be running neck and neck with Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi in the rat race. It۪s another matter that she never quite managed to follow up or capitalise on the film۪s success with a series of disastrous career choices thereafter.
The film had its share of controversy too. Rumour had it that leading man Deol was uber miffed with Chopra for giving him a raw deal and sprucing up Khan۪s role at the expense of his. He vowed never to work with the banner again and never quite saw eye to eye withKhan since the film released too. The bone of contention was a scene in the climax. Apparently when Khan۪s character dies he was never supposed to come back to life. The scene in which he does while Chawla looks on was shot with a double۪s shoulder. Deol felt that the scene completely tipped the film in Khan۪s favour evoking sympathy for his character and makingKhan the actual hero of the film.
King Khan. The chilling scenes in which Rahul keeps stalking Kiran, the numerous phone calls, the Holi scene and Rahul۪s strange conversations with his dead mother, made his character a very strong one indeed. In fact it would be safe to say that in this film he chewed up every scene he was in. It was an unusual, real and extremely effective character and undoubtedly his stammering K-K-Kiran۪ dialogues were one of the high points of the film. In fact the stammer was, until recently, considered Khan۪s trademark. We doubt whether Aamir Khan or Devgn would have been half as effective ashe was.
Juhi Chawla. Looking exquisite and presented like never before Chawla looked bewitching in all those Manish Malhotra creations. Her perm was copied by many leading actresses at the time but none quite managed to pull it off like Chawla did. Her performance too was very good and her chemistry with bothKhan and Deol (both of whom she was rumouredly linked to at various points in her career), was electric.
The music. Darr۪ was the last time that Chopra collaborated with Shiv-Hari, and their soul-stirring melodies are played at weddings and sangeets till date. Likha Hai Yeh, Tu Mere Saamne (with mesmeric vocals by evergreen Lata Mangeshkar) and Jaadu Teri Nazar were the pick of the lot.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The preposterous climax. So get this. We have SRK۪s character, brutally stabbing Deol۪s character leaving him for dead, only to find that in the next scene, Deol swam half way across the ocean to save his lady love. Ridiculous even for the 90s!
Sunny Deol. As dashing as Deol was, he just didn۪t fit the role of a love sick navy officer besotted with Chawla. And he also doesn۪t get a single scene to shine in which is probably more Chopra۪s fascination with Khan۪s character than Deol۪s to be fair.
Irrespective of the film۪s glaring flaws, ‘Darr’ was way ahead of its times. It had great performances, striking cinematography, a delicious lead heroine, a strong anti-hero and some lilting music as its trump cards. By no means Chopra۪s best film, but definitely ahead of its time and still considered by many to be a classic. It led the way for many obsession themed love stories thereafter although of course none of them made even half as much of an impact as this one did.