Himmatwala : No guts or glory

MUMBAI: Sajid Khan prefers to make entertainers but this time he decided to take a tried-and-tested formula and stick to it by remaking Himmatwala from 1983, which in turn was a remake of a Telugu hit, Ooriki Monagadu (1981). As was the case with the earlier version, this film too has a village backdrop. And instead of a contemporary setting which is how the main, multiplex and overseas audience likes it now, he has opted to keep it a 1983 story. However, by treating it like a spoof, the attempt to revisit the original is hurried and patchy and leaves it in a mess.

Producer: Vashu Bhagnani, Ronnie Screwvala.
Director: Sajid Khan.
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tamannaah, Paresh Rawal, Zarina Wahab, Mahesh Manjrekar, Vindoo, Adhyayan Suman.

Ajay Devgn has returned to Rampur to avenge his father‘s death caused by the village sarpanch, Mahesh Manjrekar, aided by his brother-in-law, Paresh Rawal. Manjrekar is a tyrant who has usurped the land and property of each and every villager and treats them like his slaves. Nobody dare oppose him. Years back he had framed Devgn‘s father, the local priest, and shamed him in front of people to the extent that he committed suicide. A young Devgn‘s attempt to kill him fails. The goons chase him and set fire to his house but he runs away after his mother, Zarina Wahab and sister goad him to.

Devgn grows up in an orphanage in a big city and is informed that contrary to what he believed, his mother and sister are very much alive but in a bad shape. He decides to return to look after them as well as to avenge his father‘s death. Being a Devgn film, the original social musical is turned into an action movie. His skills are already established as a street fighter who brawls for money.

Devgn, on his arrival to the village, starts the clean up first tackling Rawal and then, immediately, neutralising Manjrekar. What is the purpose of carrying on your film once your main villain is humiliated and defeated? None, really, and that is what happens with rest of the film. The villainy is now reduced to comic villains‘ scheming and plotting to little effect.

If Manjrekar is a tyrant, his daughter, Tamannaah, is more so. When Devgn crosses her path, she sends goons after him. Of course, they are no match for this super-powerful man. Next, she lets loose a tiger on him. Things go wrong, and instead of her enemy, she is about to become the tiger‘s prey. Devgn stands between her and the tiger and saves her. Love happens. Songs and dance follow. When you are borrowing a film, you might as well dig a bit more and also take songs from the original. So we have two songs from the earlier Himmatwala. Thanks to Bappi Lahiri‘s racy score, these remain the only good tunes in the film.

Since the villains are already neutralised, the fights are outsourced to a bunch of toughies. Street fighters are brought in to make the climax action-packed but when Devgn can‘t win against this well-armed bunch, who will save the family? It is time to invoke superpower, the Goddess Durga. The tiger, which Devgn had fought and later befriended, returns to chase the villains away. RIP Manmohan Desai.

Himmatwala is badly scripted and the director does not seem to be serious about this film. As one of the dialogues in the films suggests, it is 1983 story so anything goes! That also seems to be director Sajid Khan‘s approach to the film. The climax is stretched. There is nothing much for actors to do. Devgn is happy being Himmatwala with action scenes. Tamannaah is okay. Manjrekar hams it up. Wahab is sincere. Whatever little entertainment the film offers is thanks to Rawal.

Himmatwala will find it tough to sustain after the weekend as despite a holiday today, the opening is below par.

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