About the only thing this dreadful movie has going for it is the Bizarro World subtitles—subtitles so strange but enthusiastic that I pictured a crowd of manic little elves shouting and arguing about the best word or phrase to use, none of which probably made any sense, let alone the one they finally settled upon. But I thank Bhagwan above for the weird subs, because there was not much else to like.
I confess that I have never shared the fervent Rishi love that so many of my fellow Hindi film lovers do, although I do pretty much adore Noughties Rishi who has stolen the show in films like Hum Tum, Luck By Chance and Chintuji. He stars here with his real-life lady love Neetu Singh (whom I DO totally share the appreciation for usually) and my recent acquaintance Zahira, with Pran as his military father figure Major Sharma. The story is an exercise in dysfunctional parenting with lots of overacting (Roopesh Kumar I am looking at YOU) and that sacrificial-lamb theme that I so despise, although at least this time it’s mostly the men who wallow in stupid pointless suffering: equal opportunity martyrdom is the order of the day.
It’s not enough that everything about the movie is bad to begin with either: the dvd is chock full of gaps where important scenes are just plain missing, leaving the viewer to piece things together. And imdb seems to think that Rishi played a double role here, but I beg to differ. If this guy is Rishi:
then I will eat every single one of my many hats. The songs are dull at best, so much so that if some turned out to be missing I simply wouldn’t care (and might even be grateful). The cinematography is nausea-inducing; the zoom lens was clearly a new innovation dear to the heart of the cameraman, who also thought nothing of blurring the picture and swinging the camera around in circles to illustrate all the emotional upheaval. Whether you are a Rishi-Neetu-Pran fan or not, I think it’s fair to say that you should skip this one.
Major Sharma (Pran) is an ex-military man wounded during combat, necessitating the use of a cane which he hits one of his twin sons with when the kid can’t keep up with his brother. Kewal is everything that Sharma dislikes: fragile, emotionally unstable, clumsy, uncoordinated and so wussy that he pees his pants when Sharma scolds him. Sharma dotes on his other son Arun, who is strong and fearless although in my opinion not very bright: he obeys his father so mindlessly that he is about to run right off a cliff before the Major notices and shouts “Halt!”
Major Sharma’s pattern of praising Arun to the skies and criticizing Kewal sharply has clearly been going on since the boys were small, but everything is about to change. Kewal comes down with a severe fever and the local doctor (Raj Mehra) is called in.
It seems to me that the doctor is the one here who is mentally deficient, but although Sharma looks as bewildered as I feel at this misbegotten advice he nonetheless takes it to heart. From that day forward the twins’ roles are reversed: Kewal can do no wrong, and poor Arun can do no right. He focuses all his attention and aspirations of military glory on Kewal, training him in the fighting arts etc., and showering him with love. Now Arun is criticized at every turn, no matter how successful his endeavours prove.
As they grow up, Arun (Rishi Kapoor) remains a good-hearted and loving fellow although he turns to mischief, drink, and the doctor’s daughter Rekha (Zahira) for consolation—thereby earning the disapprobation of everyone else in the community.
Kewal (not Rishi, see above) unfortunately doesn’t benefit much from being spoiled: he becomes a whiny entitled tattletale who still sucks at everything but at least has the good sense to remain jealous of his much more worthy twin.
Major Sharma works hard and enriches his family by buying out the local Thakur’s house and lands when the Thakur gambles and drinks away his inheritance. The Thakur’s nasty son Shyam (Roopesh Kumar) blames the Major and Arun for his misfortune and becomes the Sharmas’ implacable if not very competent enemy. I’ve mostly seen Roopesh Kumar in minor side roles as the hero’s friend and always kind of liked him, but he is irritatingly over-the-top here, spitting out his lines through clenched teeth as veins pop out of his face and neck, Prem Chopra-like.
The Thakur is contesting a local election (for “Municipal Head” whatever that may be) against Major Sharma, and Shyam is so determined that he win that he kidnaps a small child for ransom to pay for his father’s campaign. I am thrilled to see that the little boy’s father is played by a young almost unrecognizable (but that voice! there is no mistaking it) Amrish Puri (update: Bollyviewer, whom I trust with such things, says it is Goga Kapoor. Oops.).
Meanwhile, Kewal sets off for officer training in the Army, making his father proud. But even in his absence the Major continues to berate Arun for all his activities, and Shyam incites the townspeople into telling Sharma that Arun is a good-for-nothing who may cost his father the election. Only Rekha stands staunchly by her misunderstood and unhappy beloved.
Despite Shyam’s maneuverings and nefarious fund-raising efforts, Major Sharma handily wins the election at the same time as Kewal returns home having actually managed to pass his Lieutenant’s exam. This situation typifies much of the film’s plot: every time Shyam ratchets up the tension a notch by indulging in bad deeds, it fizzles out and he loses pathetically without the good guys even doing anything to help themselves out. It’s no wonder he is such a cranky fellow.
Arun (who is unselfishly as usual thrilled by his twin’s success) is sent off to buy liquor for a big celebration. On the way he encounters a feisty girl named Jyoti (Neetu Singh in a totally FABULOUS DRESS) who has decided to kill herself but instead contents herself with shooting at Arun and his jeep tires. She is unhappy because her father loves money more than he loves her.
He stops her from killing herself (and him) by literally smacking some sense into her (booooo!) and takes her home with him. I am pleasantly surprised finally by a song that I actually enjoy (“Shyam Suhani Aayi Khushiyaan Banke Pehli Baar”) and which showcases all the reasons why Rishi does have so many fans—the man can dance, and he tosses his curls around and throws himself heart and soul into the party.
Affection has awakened in Jyoti’s heart too, and she is sad when—after she throws herself at him, literally—Arun introduces her to Rekha: “she is my girlfriend and I love her since my childhood.” This makes things much easier for her father, Diwan Pratap Chand (Pinchoo Kapoor) when he shows up to collect her, and she goes off happily with him in another facile resolution to a non-issue (I am leaving out all sorts of situations whereby Shyam’s plans for revenge are frustrated by the script writer’s inability or unwillingness to maintain any kind of plot tension.)
Major Sharma is not finished in his goal of ruining his only worthwhile son’s life though. When Kewal fails the next tier of army exams and is rejected by Rekha when he proposes to her:
(she wisely points out that she can’t trust a man’s loyalty when that man isn’t even loyal to his own twin), he tries to kill himself. When Sharma reads the suicide note expressing Kewal’s thwarted love for Rekha, he asks Arun to give Rekha up so that she can marry Kewal instead. Arun does so, although to his credit he does go and discuss it with her first, which unfortunately leads to the maudlin title song. It plays on and on as the anguished faces of Zahira and Rishi float across the screen in tormented chiaroscuro.
Arghhh. Thank goodness Arun finally gets the same message now that I’ve been getting all along, which is that he should run as fast as he can away from his totally dysfunctional and abusive family situation.
He takes a train out of town and lands up in Bombay, where he soon bumps into Diwan Pratap Chand and is reunited with a thrilled Jyoti, who resumes her rambunctious puppy-like attempts to woo him (seriously, she nearly knocks him over at times with her boisterous attentions). She finally wins him over—or wears him down, I am not sure which—with the cute “Nahin Nahin Jaana Nahin” and they are engaged with the blessings of her father.
But Shyam is also on the scene: thwarted in his attempts to make the Sharma family’s lives a living hell since they have done it quite well on their own, he had shifted to the city too, and has become a partner in Diwan Sahab’s illegal businesses—and he wants to marry Jyoti himself. Plus now one of Diwan Sahab’s other employees (IS Johar) recognizes the Major’s name and has news for Arun: his and Kewal’s mother (Sarla Yeolekar) is not dead as the Major had told them, but alive—and she’s not doing that well either:
Why has the Major lied to his sons about his wife, their mother (this made me want to stick needles in my eyes)? Will Shyam finally succeed in one of his evil plots (no)? Will Arun be finally find the happiness so long denied him?
The ending is as horrible a flog as I’ve ever experienced. Truly, from start to finish this story is ill-conceived, badly plotted and poorly executed. Whoever wrote it needed therapy and I pity his wife and kids. There is so very little to like about it that I can’t believe I watched the whole thing (to be fair, I was quite tipsy by the end, thank God, or I probably would have thrown something at my television).
Only Neetu’s baby fat and exuberance, the crazy subtitles, Amrish Puri’s cameo, and occasional flashes of Rishi Charm got me through. And there was a hilarious gora tourist scene too, which one of them describes over at imdb (the comedian he refers to is IS Johar hamming it up as a tour guide: “Ladies-like gentlemen and gentlemen-like ladies”).
He wants a dvd copy of the film: he can have mine.