Director: Subhash Ghai
A fiery young girl from the hills takes up cudgels on behalf of her people and fights off the bad guys. This is the burden of Subhash Ghai’s new film, and he tells it in the same manner that made his films so watchable in the ’80s, and so outdated in 2014.
Kaanchi (Mishti) is headstrong, but also foul-mouthed. Which apparently endears her to her well-meaning, well-built beau (Tiwary), as well as spoilt, rich brat (Sinha). The latter belongs to a family headed up by a wily politician (Mithun), and a playboy businessman (Rishi). The battle lines are drawn between the good villagers and the evil sheharis, who are in the hills to grab land and increase their ill-gotten wealth.
When did you last hear of a plot like this? Creak, groan. The innocent gaon-walas sing and dance, the bad city dwellers lie about a pool and lust after bikini-clad babes. Rishi Kapoor who starred in Ghai’s terrific rebirth-revenge drama Karz in 1980 returns as the sleazy businessman who is made to shout: “maaro saaley ko”. He does himself no favours. Nor does Mithun, who is made to twist his mouth and utter all kinds of banalities. Wasted in this tripe are Adil Hussain and Mita Vashisht.
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New girl Mishti who plays Kaanchi is in the mould of Ghai heroines: fair, buxom, long tendrils teasing the face. But in his heyday, no Ghai heroine would have been made to sully her mouth with the word “jhand” so very frequently. Its borderline vulgarity has been blunted by common usage but it still sounds offensive. The girl is “jhalli”, and the boy is “jhand”: that word is also used to describe Mishti by Chandan Roy Sanyal’s “bika hua” cop, and you wonder what happened to the kind of racy dialogue that was the hallmark of all good Ghai films, full of the right mix of masala and melodrama, right for their time.
This is Ghai mining his usual patriotic “this is my India” self, leavened by the recent political developments in the country. The second half moves from the hills to Mumbai, into a youth organisation which takes out morchas: in a corner I saw a board stating, “India Against Corruption”. And a line which says, “in the past 10 years, all politicians have made money”, or words to that effect. Aha, so this is a Kejri-via-Kaanchi fight against the bhrashtachari netas of the current dispensation?
This may have had power 40 years back. Now it is just tired, and jaded.
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