Had Ravikant (Ravee Kant) Nagaich ever asked me for career advice, I probably would have told him to stick to cinematography—he really does excel in that department. But as a director, he has an uncanny ability to take ingredients like this:
and make them into films which lull you into an uncomfortably bored stupor: uncomfortable because you are really justifiably afraid that if you fall asleep you will miss something truly wondrous. When I see his name in the credits, I am happy and sad. I adore Mr. Nagaich, truly, but he SO disappoints me. It’s confusing, almost as bewildering as his ability to convince audiences that his actors are dancing.
Farz first came on my radar through the loony Burr-day song with Babita and “Jumping Jack” Jeetendra, and I have been told by many that it is the film which gave Jeetu his reputation as a dancer and made him a star. He certainly does jump! I have to give him that, but dancing? Really? I don’t think that a little butt-wiggle a la Gemma combined with jumping actually equals dancing, but perhaps I am too harsh.
Or not. Babita of course is justly famous for not being able to dance, and I love her for it.
Anyway, there is plenty to like about Farz even if the sum of all those crazy parts doesn’t quite equal a good film. You really need a Fast Forward button to get through the endless “comic” antics of Mohan Chhoti and Mukri (both of whom I generally enjoy, but not in this) and long stretches of repetitive action and…um, dancing. The plot itself is a largely incoherent “tribute” to Bond, with enemy agents combining forces with Indian traitors to destabilize India. Jeetendra plays Agent 116—Gopal—with enthusiastic aplomb and an Elvis-style pompadour.
Gopal is assigned to the case by the head of CID (David) after his previous Agent (303) is killed on the job, although not before he manages to take—and hide—incriminating photographs which if located can help identify the perpetrators.
I love that he is done in by a girl carrying a knife disguised as a giant flashlight even though it’s the middle of a bright sunny day. (There are many many examples of day-night continuity problems throughout, though, so maybe it was actually the middle of the night and we just didn’t realize it.)
Gopal’s flirtatious Bond nature has been established already by a loony song and dance with Aruna Irani (who of course actually can dance, and who is also wearing less makeup than Gopal).
On the way to his new assignment he is seated next to the lovely Sunita (Babita), and he wastes no time in showering her with insincere compliments too.
While he is thus occupied in midair, the traitor responsible for killing Agent 303 has gone to meet 303’s sister Kamla (Kanchana). Damodar (Sajjan) convinces Kamla that he is a CID Inspector investigating her brother’s death, and that his killer will be arriving soon in the guise of her brother’s “friend” and colleague. He also sends that same girl with the deadly flashlight to kill Agent 116 upon his arrival—but she fails miserably and is mistakenly shot by one of her own goondas thanks to Gopal’s prowess as a fighter.
We are then tortured for some time by the antics of Gopal’s contact in Santa Cruz, Shantaram (Agha) and his CSP sons/nephews. It’s truly painful, although Mohan Chhoti proves that he too can jump after Jeetendra kicks him.
When this finally ends (for now) Gopal goes to see 303’s sister Kamla, who now believes that Gopal is her brother’s murderer. She is an exceedingly stupid girl, in my opinion, and has promised Damodar that she will help him eliminate Gopal. Gopal does see a portrait of 303 on the wall and notes down the photographer studio where it was taken—smart boy!
The interior sets for this film are pretty fabulously furnished (and wallpapered), I must say, if sometimes a bit on the blinding side.
Damodar turns out to be the lovely Sunita’s father, as Gopal discovers when he tracks down 303’s pictures, which include a shot of Damodar’s license plate. Gopal follows the car one evening and is shocked when Sunita gets out of it. Luckily she is going to a club so we get another lively—and lovely—song (“Tumse O Haseena”) which unfortunately culminates in an irritatingly juvenile (and long) food fight complete with those annoying “you’re supposed to laugh now” sound effects.
As he sets out to prove his case against Damodar, Gopal continues to romance Sunita and attends her birthday party where he sings the aforementioned Birthday Song “Baar Baar Din Ye Aaye” as her father plots with his henchmen to kill him. And apart from the whole killing/henchman thing, Indian birthday parties really are the Absolute Best.
The Birthday Girl Outfit, the balloons, the joie-de-vivre!
Although I hate to have to say it: Jeetendra looks like he’s on the awkward verge of tearing some ligaments sometimes, especially when the carpet underfoot slides around dangerously.
Anyway, he survives it all and eventually after a bunch of other stuff happens he tells Sunita the truth about her beloved father.
She confronts Damodar, who tells her that he has been forced into his life of crime and terrorism.
Gopal’s job of course is to find out who the big guys behind Damodar actually are.
Did someone say—dance?!
OH honey NO. Just…no.
And also, yes: that outfit does make you look fat. (The pit stains don’t help either.) You are a beautiful girl, why didn’t you run from this?
Will Kamla ever figure out that she’s on the wrong side, besides being in a totally wrong brocade ensemble? Can Damodar redeem himself in the eyes of his daughter and her not-that-secret Agent boyfriend? Just who IS the puppet-master here, anyway?
Here’s a hint—it’s only a minor spoiler since the plot is so badly conceived: he looks like a faux-Chinese cross between Boy George and Dr. Evil, in pancake makeup and Mao jacket and cap. His name is Supremo. Love.
Supremo speaks in staccato bursts of one or two strangely accented English words, except when he issues final instructions to his evil minions:
“Load poison powder! Despatch lorries! Destroy the crops! RUIN INDIA!”
Wait, it’s actually gas. Poisonous GAS.
Or powder. Whatever.
I don’t know why this film is bad. I just know that it is. It seems to go on forever, and much of it is unrewarding. Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s music deserves a shout-out though—it is wonderful, especially the background music (but the songs are fun too).
There is one more thing: I had not planned to review this at all after I watched it the first time, but I revisited it in the wake of Todd’s delightful AND insightful review of Nagaich’s Rani Aur Lalpari which I also now have to see, although Todd stops short of actually recommending it. Well, to be honest he doesn’t recommend it at all.
But that is the gift of Ravi Nagaich: you just can’t look away, although you really really want to. Maybe he should follow David’s advice: