Ah, testosterone. It pours out like a river from the screen during Qurbani. One fistfight leads to another, and another, and another. Punctuating the fisticuffs are doses of male bonding and declarations of undying friendship. Also many many (not necessarily testosterone-related) Poor Decisions are made.
We begin with wealthy bad guy Rakka (Amrish Puri).
Poor Decision #1: Amrish agrees to wear an Afro wig (or a bad perm, whichever).
He is one big horrible bundle of badness. He stole all his riches from a former lover, Princess Jwala (Aruna Irani); her brother Vikram (a young but still incredibly repulsive Shakti Kapoor) is in prison, courtesy also of Rakka. Jwala and Vikram are bent on vengeance and recovering their family fortune.
Poor Decision #2: Jwala also apparently handpaints her own contact lenses:
After beating up a blind beggar (just to reinforce his badness), Rakka has a run-in with charming Rajesh (Feroz Khan), a jewel thief extraordinaire and lover of nightclub singer Sheila (Zeenat Aman).
I love Sheila’s girl band. They remind me of…
Sheila loves Rajesh, but disapproves of his life style; naturally she is very unhappy when police inspector Amjad Khan (Amjad Khan!—in a very tongue-in-cheek performance) catches him after a robbery and puts him in jail for a few years. She waits faithfully for him, though, in spite of meeting a very nice young man named Amar (Vinod Khanna) with a cute little daughter named Tina (Baby Natasha Chopra).
Amar is a thief also, who had worked for Rakka until Rakka’s ruthlessness led him to quit (in spite of both Rajesh and Amar being criminals, we know they are really nice guys since they stick up for the poor and defend the downtrodden). He is devoted to his daughter. Sheila quickly befriends Tina and Amar, but even as he falls in love with her she manages to keep him at arm’s length.
Poor Decision #3: I am bewildered by Sheila choosing Rajesh over Amar (see above, and below). My sister is too.
Interestingly, there is an unusually wasted opportunity to weave the story of Tina’s absent mother into the fabric of the plot—but it goes unused, and we never do find out where she is or what happened to her. Off the top of my head I can think of half a dozen ways it could have further promoted our hatred of the bad guys, our sympathy for Amar, or otherwise further complicated things. Does the fact that I even ponder this perhaps mean that I watch too many Hindi movies…?
Then Rajesh is released from jail. Amjad Khan is waiting and we understand that he is going to be keeping a close eye on Rajesh. Sheila arrives on a motorbike to take Rajesh home. There are some goons waiting for him there, and he is forced to go with them to meet Jwala and her brother (who is now out of jail too). They tell Rajesh that they will give him 500,000 Rs to steal their jewels back from Rakka. He is reluctant, since he’s promised Sheila that he’ll go straight; Vikram makes him take a 50,000 Rs advance and “urges” him to consider it.
Poor Decision #4: When Sheila finds the 50,000 in Rajesh’s pocket she throws it in the fire. Now he can’t return it to the Singhs. He is pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place.
One day, Vikram stops his car in the middle of the road in order to threaten Rajesh. Amar drives up behind and wants him to move his car out of the way.
Poor Decision #5: Vikram picks a fight with Amar, who thrashes him and destroys his car in the process (see windshield below, for instance).
Realizing he has been defeated, Vikram makes
Poor Decision #6: and pulls a gun on Amar. At this, Rajesh stops looking on in amusement, and comes to Amar’s rescue. They send Vikram packing, and a friendship is duly formed. Amar gives Rajesh a ride home—to Sheila’s, and the light dawns. He realizes that she loves Rajesh, and when she pretends not to know him (fearing Rajesh will be angry—why is she with him, why????), he goes along with it and even later tells Tina not to give the game away.
Of course, Vikram is not going to let his humiliation at the hands of Amar go by unanswered, and one night he sends his goons to get Amar. He ties Amar to a tree and beats him mercilessly, breaking his legs and almost killing him. Luckily, Rajesh arrives just in time to save Amar. He takes him to the hospital, where he spends night and day nursing Amar back to health.
Vikram’s next ploy is to kidnap Tina as she is playing outside with her dog.
(On another side note, what is it with Indians and Pomeranians? Next to street dogs, there must be more Poms per square meter than any other kind of canine in India.)
When Amar discovers that Tina is missing, he knows it is Vikram’s doing. Rajesh comes up with a plan: they will steal the family’s jewels from Rakka for Vikram and Jwala, and Rajesh will allow himself to be caught by Inspector Khan, who has been following him around. He will do the year’s jail time for burglary; meanwhile Amar can take Tina and Sheila to the UK where they will all be safe and Rajesh will join them on his release. Amar agrees unwillingly—he would rather do the jail time himself—but Rajesh convinces him for Tina’s sake to go along.
They get Tina back from Vikram and Jwala based on their promise to make things even with Rakka; what they don’t know is that Vikram and Jwala are plotting to kill Rakka and frame them for it. It works!
Poor Decision #7: Rajesh believes Inspector Khan when he tells Rajesh that Amar planned the frameup in order to escape with the jewels and Sheila too. He escapes from custody and goes to England to avenge himself on Amar, with Khan hot on his heels.
How many more Poor Decisions will be made? Can Amar convince Rajesh of the truth? What about Vikram and Jwala—do they get their comeuppance? Will Inspector Khan arrive in time? Who will Sheila choose in the end?
For all the predictable answers—see Qurbani.