Himmatwala – Movie Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on March 30, 2013 | No Comments
PRODUCER – Vashu Bhagnani, Siddharth Roy Kapur
DIRECTOR – Sajid Khan
WRITER – Sajid Khan, Sajid 1, Farhad
MUSIC – Sajid-Wajid
CAST – Ajay Devgn, Tamannaah Bhatia, Paresh Rawal, Mahesh Manjrekar, Zarina Wahab
With a grandiloquent poster of a macho Ajay Devgn taming a tiger, Sajid Khan proclaimed that the 80’s were back. For many of us who remember the dismal popular cinema of that era, this wasn’t a welcome idea. But we, of the 2010’s, are reliving a similar kind of 80’s in our own way and hence that proclamation didn’t feel too bizarre. After all, it’s just a sign of changing times. What’s that they say about history repeating itself again?
The post millennium Himmatwala is a rehash of the Jeetendra-Sridevi starrer (without credits) of the 80’s immersed in Sajid Khan style of humour and characteristic irreverence. Ravi (Ajay Devgn) comes back to his village from the city to avenge the shaming and ultimate death of his righteous father. The village, its villagers and the devil incarnate land-grabbing Sarpanch are a daft mockery of themselves and the original version. Ravi is a true-blue, macho man aka “himmatwala” – the brave one, and he sets out to avenge his father by taming tigers, the Sarpanch’s daughter and the Sarpanch himself.
True to the ethos of the 80’s there is a helpless mother to be taken care of and a vulnerable sister who shall be used as a pawn in the game to exploit the hero. Sexism was rampant in the raw, uber-violent all-male sensibility of the popular cinema of the 80’s and the new Himmatwala follows the same path without a batting an eye-lid. But even while it tries to invest its whacky humour on the proceedings unwittingly it reproduces the older one much more faithfully than it realizes, which for the film, isn’t a good thing at all.
The 80’s were an entire sensibility, a moral and social reality the society and people identified with. Sajid Khan recreates that entire sensibility for an audience that is alien to its morality. In the process he makes a mish-mash of corny humour, inane set pieces of violence and a loose plot that almost seems like it doesn’t know where it’s meant to go. In between he adds a matka-filled song, one that by now we’ve already seen spoofed twice before (The Dirty Picture and Aiyya). It is all full of energy and confidence but no personality. It feels loose and tacky and worse, not that entertaining either. Besides there is something embarrassing in watching grown-up men (Sajid Khan included) behave so singularly stupid.
A large part of the film’s tepid outcome is Ajay Devgn. This is no Singham which had a modicum of story, character motivations and emotional drama, but a part that is meant to fly mainly on macho-ism and suave style. Devgn has never been pure that, that is an unabashed Salman territory, and in Himmatwala he passes muster simply because others around him are simply not worth taking seriously. Tamannah, either coincidentally or by design recalls Sridevi in more ways than just styling and displays a fine panache for mindless masala. Mahesh Manjrekar seems to be enjoying himself as the loony Sarpanch and Paresh Rawal takes up Kader Khan’s mantle with laudable conviction. He mouths outlandish inanities with a funny wig and funnier voice that were Kader Khan staples right up to-the-camera one-liners. Shakti Kapoor is replaced by an incredibly infantile Adhyayan Suman and Zarina Wahab seems to have received some sort of 5-film deal from Bollywood for playing the poor mother part.
Himmatwala is good for that random mood for a stray laugh and silly spoof (one Psycho spoof is actually tops) but there is no nostalgia, tribute or sense behind all the noise that it makes.