Let's get one thing clear right away. "Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa" isn't a bad film. It's a boring film. And that's worse than being bad.
In the absence of a gripping plot, cohesive narration and coherent characterisations, "Dil Ne..." simply fragments scatters and falls into a clutter of tear-squeezing episodes that leave you gasping for breath, like the film's leading lady Dhani (Bhoomika Chawla) who has a congenital heart problem.
Sunny doctor Pari (Preity Zinta) conveniently has a road accident and donates her heart to the girl on the next bed before kicking the bucket...and letting loose a torrent of sobs and tears from her husband.
To his credit, Salman carries off the tough-guys-do-cry act with emotive fecundity. His reactions during Preity's death sequence appear heartfelt. But not enough so to camouflage the film's stifled screams of groaning protest against the liberties taken in the plot.
The incidents leading up to the awful tragedy are vaguely engaging. Salman shares an easygoing camaraderie with Preity and it shows in their sequences together. Once Pari is knocked up and knocked off by the scriptwriters, the film goes out of control, much like the motorbikes spinning out of control and hurling Pari's car over the edge, toppling the plot into the arena of a triangular tragedy.
"Dil Ne Jise..." isn't the first film about a heart transplant. World cinema got there first. Recently there was David Duchovny in "Return To Me" pining for his suddenly-deceased wife until another woman with the dead woman's heart shows up to claim space in his affections.
The trouble is, "Dil Ne Jise..." thinks with its heart. The sweeping sentimentality of the plot isn't matched by the aura created in the narrative. Minus the fun sequences between Salman and Preity, there's little here to suggest the acute romanticism of two broken hearts mended by surgery and love respectively.
Salman and Bhoomika who shared a successful togetherness in "Tere Naam" here seem to be wading through a wasteland of ill-conceived sequences written more for the sake of reaching the inevitable (happy) conclusion than to explore the journey undertaken by two traumatised souls united by the life-giving death of one woman.
It's a powerful subject weakened by Atull Agnihotri's pale direction. Birds chirp in a studio-built home to announce a happy morning, violins fill the soundtrack to announce any maudlin occasion.
Music and songs - so essential to prop up a romantic tale - are at best serviceable. The choreography doesn't help to relieve the tide of tedium.
Salman props up the creaky show as much as he can. But his understated machismo goes only this far. The temper-tantrums in the second-half are too much Salman and too little Rishab, the grieving widower's character he plays.
In one sequence, he shouts at his well-meaning colleague and friend (Asif Sheikh). "I can throw this phone, these flowers if I want"...and proceeds to do just that.
The supporting characters are quite a commodious bunch, and often redundant. Salman's sister played by Renuka Shahane seems to be there just to remind audiences of their collaboration in "Hum Aapke Hain Kaun". And you have to be really patient to accept Rati Agnihotri as a doctor!
Salman Khan's office colleagues are a noisy caricature-like bunch...A featherbrained girl (Delnaaz Paul) who speaks wrong Hindi, another guy who stammers and a frumpy matronly steno whom boss Salman sportingly calls, 'Sexy' every morning to show what a regular guy he is.
Why, Salman even feeds the guy who comes to steal at his house and sends him away with a warning: "No more theft"
The director needs a similar warning for stealing from "Return To Me". He also needs to be told that gay jokes aren't amusing.