Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is one of my favorite Hindi actresses, ever since I saw her in Bride and Prejudice, the British Bollywood-style remake of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. (I tend to burrow deep when I like something -- you may have noticed -- and Austen's works have been a long-time passion. I read or listen to all the novels every year, and can't pass up an adaptation.) She is stunning in a very classic movie star way, and she is an excellent dancer. Her dance duet with Madhuri Dixit from Devdas is glorious; I never get tired of watching it.
I'll admit that it has taken me a while to appreciate Mohabbatein (Love Stories), probably because instead of the usual love triangle, the three interconnected lovers are a young man, the young woman he loves, and her father. And the girl is dead. So the central love story is about a different kind of relationship. Still, this counts as a first date for SRK and Rai; they go on to the very successful pairing in Devdas. We don't actually see them together (and both alive) until well into second half of the film, in flashback to the day they declared their love for each other. Up until then, SRK's character, Raj Aryan, has been a more mature hero than most of his 90s films -- he is now a grown man, working as a teacher at Bachchan's tightly-run school. His dreamlike interactions with the spirit of Megha (Rai) are deeply romantic, but also constrained by the existential distance between them.
Not too reminiscent of the gazebo scene in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, right? But much less physically passionate.
The earliest scene, chronologically, is this flashback. (Runs from about 50 seconds to 2:42)
So, now the questions:
What is your first impression of Raj? Grown-up Shah Rukh! At last! He was 35 when this film was released, and is playing close to his actual age. There's enough suppressed mischievous humor to keep him from being too much of a paragon. In the flashback, he does a great job of portraying the awkward student, without being at all annoying.
What is Megha's first impression of Raj? We don't get to see the very beginning, but clearly she sees him as "different", though that could be a result of their attraction for each other. But she trusts him, just as she trusts her father to accept him.
How would you describe their chemistry over the course of the film? Steady and pure. It has that "first love" aura throughout. SRK and Rai are well-matched physically, and I think she makes him a better dancer, just as Madhuri Dixit does when they are paired.
If you had a first date with Raj, would you go on a second? I did. Just a different guy. In fact, dear reader, I married him. And no, our parents did not approve.