YES BOSS
1997, Hindi, 155 minutes
Directed by Aziz Mirza, Music: Jatin-Lalit, Lyrics: Javed Akhtar

India's isn't the only society wherein powerful people surround themselves with adoring "yes men" who feed their egos while in fact carrying out much of their work, but strong traditions of caste, age-rank, and status hierarchy, especially among males, certainly contribute to a verdant undergrowth (and slang) of chamchas (sycophants, but literally "spoons" -- a sexualized metaphor indicative of their clinging posture) who practice nonstop chaaplusi (flattery). The special charm of this otherwise fairly routine yuppie romance lies in the sometimes poignant portrayal of such a figure, Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan), who serves as right-hand man to a licentious ad-agency director, Siddharth (Aditya Pancholi). Siddharth owes his posh agency (filled with bad post-modern decor) and fleet of Mercedes to a rich but neglected wife, whose effete, scheming brother would dearly love to find a chink in his armor and take it all away from him. This shouldn't be too difficult, since the agency does not appear to function much except, via fashion shows and camera-less "location shoots," as a procurement service for its oversexed boss.

Siddharth (who, appropriately enough, looks a bit like a younger Bill Clinton) spends most of his time in long-running "meetings" with selected models, while the frenetic Rahul attends to such niceties as delivering a white piano to Siddharth's wife for their wedding anniversary (naturally, he transports it through Mumbai on a chrome flatbed truck, singing all the way). Rahul himself drives a Vespa with the slogan "Don't Worry - Be Rich" on its spare tire-cover, and his dream is to have his own agency — which Siddharth promises to give him, soon; there is even a scale model to tantalize him. Into the picture scoots orphan Seema (Juhi Chawla), who lives in a college girls' hostel (dormitory) but likewise dreams of a glamorous modeling career. Rahul is drawn to Seema, but so is Siddharth, who realizes that, as a "middle-class girl" (and hence, apparently, a repository of true Indian Values) Seema is not going to be an easy score. With Rahul's assistance, he contrives an elaborate plot to convince Seema that he is ready to divorce his wife and marry her, and then, when complications ensue, to convince his suspicious spouse that Seema is in fact already married to Rahul. Just for fun, throw in a location-shoot in Switzerland, a widowed mother (Rahul's) with a heart condition, and the nice chemistry between Khan and Chawla. Though true love is of course bound to triumph, the screenplay idealistically stops short of tossing in fortune as well, and the lovebirds ride off into Mumbai traffic on the good old Vespa — albeit with a revised slogan.

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