Aitraaz (English: Objection) is a 2004 Indian Hindi-language romantic thriller courtroom drama film directed by Abbas–Mustan. Produced by Subhash Ghai, it stars Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Priyanka Chopra, and features Amrish Puri, Paresh Rawal and Annu Kapoor in supporting roles. The screenplay was written by Shyam Goel and Shiraz Ahmed, and Himesh Reshammiya composed the soundtrack.
Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Subhash Ghai|
|Music by||Himesh Reshammiya|
|Edited by||Hussain A. Burmawala|
|Distributed by||Mukta Arts|
|Box office||₹260 million|
The film tells the story of a man accused of sexual harassment by his female superior. It was released on 12 November 2004 to positive reviews. Chopra received widespread critical acclaim for her performance as the antagonist. Aitraaz was a commercial success, grossing over ₹260 million at the box office against a production and marketing budget of ₹110 million. It has been noted for its bold subject of sexual harassment.
Aitraaz received several accolades, particularly for Chopra. At the 50th Filmfare Awards, she received two nominations: Best Supporting Actress and Best Performance in a Negative Role, winning the latter and thus becoming the second (and final)[a] actress to win the award. Chopra also won the Bengal Film Journalists' Association Award for Best Actress and the Screen Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role. The film received ten nominations at the 2005 IIFA Awards, winning three.
Raj Malhotra is a product engineer for Voice Mobiles, a mobile manufacturing company. Junior lawyer Priya goes to Raj's house for an interview, mistaking him for barrister Ram Chotrani, a neighbour and Raj's friend. They fall in love, marry and are soon expecting a child as well as Raj's promotion to CEO. Company chairman Roy arrives with a new and much younger wife, Sonia; after some discussion between the couple, Sonia is named as the new chairperson, Raj's friend Rakesh Sharma as the new CEO, and Raj is placed on the board of directors. At a party, Raj and Priya learn about Sonia and gossip about her attractiveness and her age difference with Roy. Raj jokes that his magnetic personality was responsible for his prestigious promotion. It is implied that Raj may have encountered Sonia previously.
A flashback explores Raj's previous relationship with Sonia, five years earlier. Raj and Sonia (then a model) meet at a beach in Cape Town. They fall in love and move in together. Sonia becomes pregnant with Raj's child, which makes him happy, but Sonia refuses Raj's marriage proposal. She says that she is going to terminate the pregnancy as a child would stand in the way of wealth, fame, power and status; as a consequence, their relationship ends.
After their promotions, Rakesh tells Raj about a defect in the company's new mobile handset, which causes calls to be simultaneously placed to two people—the intended recipient and another random person from the phone's contact list. Raj needs Sonia's permission to stop production, and she invites him to her house to discuss the matter. Sonia makes provocative and sexually explicit statements to Raj, who ignores her. She then aggressively tries to pursue Raj, who resists. Although he repeatedly rejects her advances, Sonia continues trying to seduce him. As he leaves, Sonia threatens to punish him for spurning her. The next day, he learns that Sonia has told her husband that he sexually harassed her. Since he has admitted finding Sonia attractive, his claim of innocence is not believed, and the company pressurises him to resign.
Raj asks Chotrani to take his case; Chotrani tells him not to resign, and to continue going to work. The case goes to court, gaining widespread media attention with the bulk of the evidence against Raj. Raj's bank manager returns from overseas with a tape that recorded Raj's encounter at Sonia's house. The tape is proven genuine, but is stolen and destroyed by Sonia with the help of Chotrani's assistant, whom she bribes. When Priya asks Raj why he called their bank manager from Sonia's house, he replies that he had called Rakesh, and the call also went through to the bank manager due to the defect in the company handset. Due to Chotrani's injury, Priya continues the case and exposes Sonia's earlier relationship with Raj in Cape Town. She then plays Rakesh's voice mail to the court, showing what occurred between Raj and Sonia. It is revealed that Sonia married Ranjeet Roy for money, power, and status, but when he could not satisfy her sexually, she tried to resume her relationship with Raj. Priya wins the case and Roy leaves Sonia. Guilt-stricken and humiliated, Sonia commits suicide by jumping from a building. The end credit scene shows Raj and Priya walking their child.
The cast is listed below:
- Akshay Kumar as Raj Malhotra
- Kareena Kapoor Khan as Priya Saxena Malhotra
- Priyanka Chopra as Sonia Roy
- Amrish Puri as Ranjit Roy
- Anu Kapoor as Barrister Ram Chotrani
- Paresh Rawal as Advocate Patel
- Vivek Shauq as Rakesh Sharma
- Preeti Puri as Jenny (Raj Malhotra's secretary)
- Upasna Singh as Kanchan
- Dinesh Lamba as Barrister Ram Chotrani's assistant
- Anil Nagrath as Judge
The director duo Abbas–Mustan took inspiration from National Basketball Association player Kobe Bryant, who was accused of rape by a fan; they began developing the film after reading about his sexual-assault case in the newspapers. Regarding the film's unusual title, they said the word aitraaz was colloquial and suited the subject. Shyam Goel and Shiraz Ahmed wrote the screenplay. Hussain A. Burmawala and R. Verman were responsible for film editing and art direction, respectively.
The film was announced in October 2003 by producer Subhash Ghai, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his production company Mukta Arts. The media reported that Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra were cast in lead roles, making it the third film collaboration between Kumar and Chopra after the highly successful Andaaz (2003) and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004). Kumar was cast as Raj, a working man accused of rape at his workplace; Kapoor portrayed his supportive wife, who goes to extremes to defend him. According to the directors, Kumar was cast against type; he generally played action heroes, and they wanted him to underplay his character. Abbas–Mustan, known for stylish thrillers and intriguing antagonists,[b] cast Chopra in her first negative role. She plays a woman, married to a business magnate more than twice her age, who seeks revenge by falsely accusing her former lover of raping her. Chopra was initially apprehensive about such a bold character, due to the controversial theme of sexual harassment, but Abbas–Mastan and Subhash Ghai convinced her to accept the role. The director duo had previously offered her the lead in their 2002 thriller Humraaz, which she could not accept.
Kumar described his character as "realistic" and a "new-age metrosexual" man. The actor revealed that he enjoyed the strengths and weaknesses of his character, adding "[he] is not afraid to show his feelings and does not feel emasculated by his situation." Kumar further stated: "There's a quiet dignity and heroism associated with my character. He doesn't fight for applause. He fights for his convictions." In an interview with Tribune India, Kapoor remarked that Indian women would identify with her character. She said her character "stand[s] by [Raj] in his moment of distress and helplessness, like every Indian woman would." Chopra described her character Sonia as "charming and focused", commenting that her "philosophy is that she has to achieve her goals at any cost. She knows one thing: that nothing can come in between her desires and herself." Owing to her conservative upbringing, Chopra found it difficult to identify with her "man-eater role". Playing an "extremely negative character" proved a challenge, and she had to mentally prepare herself for an hour before each scene.
Manish Malhotra and Vikram Phadnis designed the costumes and the cinematography was handled by Ravi Yadav. The film was mainly shot in Cape Town, Goa, Pune and Mumbai. Chopra, who was simultaneously filming four other productions, revealed that because of her busy schedule the producers of her other films had to move their sets to the Filmistan Studio, where Aitraaz was being made. She wept during filming of the sexual-harassment scene; it took the directors several hours to remind her she was only playing a character, and further filming was postponed. The music video of the title track "Aitraaz – I Want to Make Love to You" with Kumar and Chopra was shot in one take with a Steadicam. Salim–Sulaiman composed the background score for the film.
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||24 September 2004|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
Aitraaz's soundtrack was composed by Himesh Reshammiya, with lyrics by Sameer. The album contains fifteen songs: seven original, and eight remixes. The vocals were performed by Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Sunidhi Chauhan, Adnan Sami, K.K., and Alisha Chinai. It was released on 24 September 2004 by Sony Music India.
The soundtrack was generally well received by music critics, who praised its lyrics and vocals. Planet Bollywood gave a rating of 7 out of 10, calling it a "good album". Joginder Tuteja of Bollywood Hungama rated the album 3 out of 5, praising "I Want To Make Love To You" (all three versions): "Sunidhi Chauhan is excellent in this wonderfully-composed track that shocks everyone with the intensity of the lyrics and the music". He concluded, "Except for two or three average songs here and there, the majority of songs in Aitraaz do keep you engaged".
The music topped charts on a number of platforms in India. The soundtrack was one of the best-selling Bollywood soundtracks of the year, with 1.5 million units sold according to Box Office India.
|1.||"Aankhen Bandh Karke"||Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik||4:41|
|2.||"Tala Tum Tala Tum"||Alka Yagnik, Jayesh Gandhi, Udit Narayan||6:58|
|3.||"Woh Tassavvur"||Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik||5:24|
|4.||"Nazar Aa Raha Hai"||Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik||5:07|
|5.||"Gela Gela Gela"||Adnan Sami, Sunidhi Chauhan||4:42|
|6.||"Aitraaz – I Want to Make Love to You"||Sunidhi Chauhan||5:11|
|7.||"Yeh Dil Tumpe Aa Gaya"||K.K., Alisha Chinai||5:23|
|8.||"Aitraaz – I Want to Make Love to You (Male)"||Kunal Ganjawala||5:10|
|9.||"Aankhen Bandh Karke (Close Your Eyes Mix)"||Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik||5:00|
|10.||"Gela Gela Gela (The Dance on the Beach Mix)"||Adnan Sami, Sunidhi Chauhan||4:00|
|11.||"Woh Tassavvur (Love is Forever Mix)"||Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik||4:00|
|12.||"Tala Tum Tala Tum (The Cyclonic Dance Mix)"||Alka Yagnik, Jayesh Gandhi, Udit Narayan||5:00|
|13.||"Nazar Aa Raha Hai"||Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik||4:00|
|14.||"Yeh Dil Tumpe Aa Gaya (The Slip and Slide Mix)"||K.K., Alisha Chinai||5:00|
|15.||"Aitraaz – I Want to Make Love to You (The Passion Mix)"||Sunidhi Chauhan||4:00|
Marketing and releaseEdit
The first-look poster of the film, with the tagline "In the world of women, you either play by their rules or else ...", was received positively by critics; the film's trailers were also well received. In October 2004, exclusive footage from the film was screened to the trade experts and critics, creating a positive buzz. The film's trailers and the film's music aided its marketing.
Made on a production and marketing budget of ₹110 million, Aitraaz was released on 375 screens on 12 November 2004 during the festive Diwali weekend. It clashed with three other major releases: Veer-Zaara, the coloured version of Mughal-e-Azam, and Naach. The film opened to excellent occupancy in metros and decent at other places. It was the second-best playing release of the week after Yash Chopra's Veer-Zaara. According to Box Office India, the film grossed approximately ₹45 million on its opening weekend and ₹76 million in its first week at the domestic box office. After its run, Aitraaz grossed over ₹278 million at the box office, becoming the tenth highest-grossing Bollywood film of the year. The film was deemed a commercial success.
The DVD of the film was released on 6 December 2004 across all regions in a PAL-format single disc. Distributed by Shemaroo Entertainment, it included a making-of-the-film segment and a photo gallery. The VCD version was released at the same time, and Zee Network bought the exclusive broadcast rights. Aitraaz made its Indian television premiere on 30 October 2005 on Zee Cinema. The film was remade in Kannada as Shrimathi (2011), starring Upendra, Priyanka Trivedi and Celina Jaitley.
Aitraaz received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised its direction, music and performances, particularly Chopra's. It was noted for its bold treatment of sexual harassment. Several critics observed that the premise was similar to the American film Disclosure (1994). Writing for the BBC, critic Jay Mamtora praised the film's theme, music and performances, and remarked that "Abbas-Mustaan have done a good job in 'Indianising' the whole concept". He went on to describe it as "a gripping edge of the seat drama that keeps viewers glued to their seats". Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama rated the film 3.5 out of 5, calling it "a well-crafted thriller" and complimenting the directors' opting for "a theme that has been untouched on the Indian screen so far" and the film's "dramatic moments".
Like Mamtora, Adarsh believed that the film belonged entirely to Priyanka Chopra, and was impressed with her understanding of the character, writing that "She sneaks her way through the role like an expert, drawing audience hatred the way a magnet collects iron filings." He also complimented the performances by Kapoor and Kumar. Patcy N of Rediff.com noted the film's appeal to the general public, finding its subject matter "something different from the standard fare on offer". She also praised the music and choreography. Writing for India Today, film critic Anupama Chopra lauded Chopra's "impressive" performance, and deemed the film "good timepass".
Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu commented that "though the first half of the movie is well-paced, the second half sags with the songs and twists forced into the plot to buy time", but stated that it was "passable with its slick production, a few funny lines, glam quotient and star appeal." Subhash K. Jha criticised the film's "dishy digressions" and "peripheral sub-plots", rating it 2 out of 5 overall, but was impressed with the court scene, which he considered "splendid". He also found Chopra's performance to be a triumph, remarking: "A star is born! As the predatory social-climbing seductress who can go to any length to satiate her lust for life, Priyanka Chopra rocks the scene like never before." Jha believed that Kareena was miscast and seemed a little awkward in a non-glamorous role, but "comes into her own in the climactic courtroom sequence", a sentiment echoed by Jitesh Pillai in his review for The Times of India. Pillai gave a rating of 3 out of 5 and noted that "it isn't drama that directors were striving for, yet the film works."
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