A Dara Singh film with subtitles is always reason enough for celebration, even if the film itself is a little less entertaining than it might be. This one resembles in style and substance a bunch of gleeful little boys wreaking havoc on a playground (or at least wanting to wreak havoc while acknowledging their limited budget), which is good enough for me. Besides TWO of Dara, disguise freak and B-movie staple NA Ansari is on board with a host of villainous and comical henchmen and two lovely girls (Sanjana and Renu) to provide relief from the wrestling and fisticuffs.
It starts off gangbusters as the credits roll after a brief but stern warning to parents that if you eff up your child-raising responsibilities the deterioration of society is your fault. Footage of banks being robbed, explosions, newspaper headlines and a series of portraits of the criminals responsible, all of whom are NA Ansari, bombard the screen.
Seriously, we might not even need Dara.
Ha ha, just kidding! Of course we need Dara.
He is Shankar, the good-hearted owner of a local gas station and garage. His assistant Gopal (Johnny Whiskey) is an idiot and Shankar is forced to defend him against an angry customer named Ratna (Sanjana), a dancer at the nearby London Hotel.
I just want big hair and head scarves to come back in style. You know what they say: the higher the hair, the closer to God!
The owner of the London Hotel is none other than our master criminal and object of an India-wide police hunt, Madan (NA Ansari). I am delighted to see Shetty sporting a big dent in his shiny head as the hotel manager and front-deskwala Lalu.
Madan has a visitor named Lal-A (Dara Singh) who looks exactly like Shankar except that he’s dressed and coiffed like an Olde Tyme vaudevillian or ice-cream soda purveyor. Lala is a little miffed with Madan for abandoning him in his time of trouble:
and he wants the money that Madan owes him in order to go straight now that he’s been sprung from the Big House. Madan wants him to return to crime again, but Lala wants to find a nice girl and settle down to a decent life. Ratna catches his eye when they go down to the hotel club and she dances with another girl named Bela (Renu). The music director for this film is someone named Jagdish Khana—new to me, but I think the songs are lovely.
Now we get a glimpse into Madan’s working methods. He sends Bela (who is also his girlfriend) to scam a jeweler using the exact same scheme seen in the later Apradh (maybe based on a real-life incident?). She escapes with a diamond necklace and ends up at Shankar’s garage just as the police arrive there too. Worried, she slips the necklace into the pocket of a jacket Shankar has left draped on his car window and thus escapes detection when the police ask to search her car. Unfortunately, Shankar leaves on an errand while they are still searching.
But the vicissitudes of fate swing back her way when he shows up later at the London Hotel accompanied by his friend Inspector Shirish (Azad, I think) and the hapless Gopal. Bela tells Ratna to retrieve the necklace from Shankar’s coat pocket and she entertains with a dance (the catchy “Ae Sanam Kuch Kehna Hai Tumse”) while wearing a fabulously fringy outfit made from some Boxer leftovers. I can’t find the songs online anywhere, so here’s this one for your listening pleasure.
The diamond necklace falls from the jacket to the floor without her noticing when she picks it up from the back of Shankar’s chair. Gopal sees the necklace lying there and surreptitiously snatches it up himself. Ratna does manage to take Shankar’s wallet, because during her dance she has fallen in love with him. (Earlier when he lifted up her car so Gopal could change the tire quickly she was unimpressed, and I’m a little puzzled as to how he is so much more attractive while just sitting at a table, but never mind.)
Lala is in love with Ratna himself, and Madan has promised that he could have her (grrr) but she rejects him when he comes to see her. (There are references made throughout to the girls being helpless “slaves” to Madan although it doesn’t really lead to anything.) Lala is upset until she shows him the photo of Shankar she found in his wallet.
Ratna isn’t the brightest bulb in the circuit and doesn’t seem to see the resemblance between Shankar and Lala, but Bela has pointed it out to Madan already. He now disguises himself as a policeman and “arrests” Shankar, taking him to the hotel. Shankar gives the necklace to him, but Madan’s goons beat him senseless anyway. Bela asks why:
Is Shankar also Lala? Is he playing an elaborate game with Madan? Can Ratna rescue her beloved from her Boss’s clutches? Will the police ever manage to catch Madan and his gang?
WATCH Gunahon Ke Raaste to find out!
SEE Shetty and Dara locked in mortal combat!
GASP as Bela pretends to be Japanese!
MARVEL at the vintage (stolen) footage of paratroopers jumping from WWII planes!
THRILL to the electronics of Madan’s Torture Chair!
LAUGH as Johnny Whiskey channels Mehmood in drag!
(Perhaps the verbs in those last two should be reversed.)
There are plenty of plot holes and ridiculousness as you’d expect, and it’s not quite as *energetic* as small boys at recess, but there is still plenty of enthusiastic good fun (and songs), not to mention enough dire warnings to set any mischievous urchin straight. Turn away from the dark alleys of crime, sons of India! Turn away!
Dara is such a wonderfully dependable kind of fellow for a lazy afternoon movie. Love him, I do.