As the current generation of college kids drool over Ranbir Kapoor’s Sid & Bunny and the slightly ‘edgier’ section gloats about Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan — one of Bollywood’s most underrated coming-of-age films completes 25 years today. Aamir Khan-starrer Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke stands out even within Khan’s own filmography of the 1990s — most of which had him playing an underdog.
And while his collaborations with brother Mansoor Khan were usually based on familiar Hollywood films (Akele Hum Akele Tum – Kramer vs Kramer, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar – Breaking Away), this one was an original story. And even though the influences of Mary Poppins and Sound Of Music are easily visible, Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke manages to successfully Indianise the whole setting.
For a film as jolly and feel-good as this, it begins with an accident — the classic 90s trope to kill parents and leave behind young orphans. The accident means the kids will have to be taken care of by a not-so-close uncle (Aamir Khan) still pursuing his engineering degree. Barely old enough to land a 9-to-5 job for himself, Aamir Khan’s Rahul Malhotra is laden with the responsibility of three children, a house and a garment factory, where humongous orders and debt await him.
Running against time to complete an order of 1 lakh shirts from a shrewd Sindhi businessman called Bijlani (Dalip Tahil in top form), Rahul also needs to find a way to earn the love and respect of the bratty children with a million tantrums. It’s a complicated relationship where both parties are trying to mask their grief with work/naughtiness.
Even though Rahul is mature, he obviously isn’t parent-material yet. And his own personal growth as a human being alongside the growing children forms the central theme of the film. And it explores this without taking itself too seriously. The story of the disintegrated family slowly getting back together, is punctuated with colourful characters in more than a few laugh-out-loud scenes.
Juhi Chawla’s furious altercations with her father in Tamil, the scene where Chawla’s character is found hiding in the kids’ room. And even Rahul interactions with his well-meaning secretary, Mishraji (Mushtaq Khan), who cannot overemphasise on his jaapaani training. There is also Dalip Tahil, playing the petty villain with so much relish that in a different time, the Sindhi community would have begun #NotAllSindhis.
Aamir Khan, credited with co-writing the film’s screenplay, is what explains his thorough understanding of script nuance. In 1993, when the other Khans were busy focusing on their own performances, Aamir was enterprising enough to focus on other aspects of filmmaking as well. It might have been considered ‘experimental’ for a young movie star, but Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke is a warm hug from mainstream Bollywood.
It had the boy-meets-girl routine, it has the judaai song, it has the beautiful sentiment of a family coming together against a bigger adversary. All this Hindi film philosophy is tucked into the corners of a movie that never fails to engage. At its core, Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke, is the story of Rahul growing up and growing close with his nephews and niece.
And even after 25 years, the film directed by Mahesh Bhatt, has aged (largely) well. It remains one of the most underrated Aamir Khan films that encompasses so many themes like — children, a love story, family, and most of all, the beautiful journey of growing up.