Movie Review: Just say NO to Himmatwala
Sajid Khan cannot be serious about Himmatwala. Or is he? A spoof of the 1983 film might have worked. Instead he puts Ajay Devgn and a tiger in a film that's a montage of everything wrong with our movies from the 80s.
This was the original one-word review I submitted, because really that’s all I have to say about the sole Bollywood release this week, but the editor wouldn’t accept it.
I never know how to even begin critiquing ‘a Sajid Khan entertainer’ but Himmatwala is a lesson in a movie that just won’t quit. With a run time of (what feels like) 18 hours, it is a seizure-inducing montage of everything that was wrong with our movies from the ’80s. Including Ajay Devgn, who came soon after, and was okay with all vowels in his surname at the time.
In 1983, Himmatwala was a success (!) because of Jeetendra, Sridevi, the absence of Sajid Khan, and the fact that we didn’t know any better at the time. In 2013, nothing except a spoof on this will work. And that’s what we start out thinking this movie is, till we realise many hours later, and much to our horror, that Khan is serious?
Ravi (Devgn) is a street fighter in the city. When he was still quite young, his father — the temple priest of their village, Ramnagar—took his own life when the evil sarpanch shamed him in front of all the villagers. Soon after, their house was burned down, with his mother and sister still in it. Assuming that they died in this fire, he left never to return.
BUT now he has just learnt that they escaped the fire all those years ago, and are still alive, living under miserable conditions. He returns to Ramnagar — much to the unprecedented surprise of the ticket collector at the railway station who almost gives himself a hernia from the excitement of seeing someone sarpanch Sher Singh (Mahesh Manjrekar).
Ravi and close-up shots of his ‘jinns pant’ enter the village to find his mother (Zarina Wahab) ask a young woman (his sister) with carefully smeared car grease on her cheeks to go ask the corner shop to loan them some rice to eat, coughing and trying to look very poor while doing so.
But never fear, son and street fighter Ravi is here! He spends the next many hours being a manly man, punching tigers and saving his sister from getting raped and avenging his father’s death and freeing the villagers from the control of Sher Singh and whatnot. It’s a lot for a guy to do, even with 2013’s special effects, so I left him to it while I took a power nap.
When I woke up, I noticed that Devgn’s fingernails are too long for a man. And that he is now dancing very badly to what I think Khan considers an item song, and also that his leading lady Tamannaah makes a great co-star because just look at all the extra vowels this girl has to her name! Paresh Rawal comes up on top for his spectacularly ridiculous look and performance which, in keeping with one of Himmatwala's most repeated dialogues, makes you laugh before making you cry.
Look, the real question here is: why is Sajid Khan still making movies? Have his other films made money? Who’s paying to watch this tripe?
The only thing I learned from my experience, and other reviewers will probably tell you more or less the same thing, is that if you have to sit through this movie for reasons best left unexplained, know that you, sir/madam, are the real himmatwala. And if you see if even after reading this review, remember I just said no.
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