The only reasons that I don’t completely despise this film are that it finally enabled me to identify the location of The Room (details are in that post), and pretty much every moment in it is a Screencap Waiting To Happen. It is a scarf-fest of unbelievable proportions. I guess I can also finally say that I have seen a Mahendra Sandhu movie, although I detested it so much that I may never be able to forgive him (I’ve not been able to watch a Tom Hanks film since he inflicted Forrest Gump on me).
Madhosh seems to have grand pretensions of being a modern look at valuing women, but its subtext (and not really very “sub” at that) is so relentlessly sexist that it is mostly just a rehash of that dehumanizing goddess-whore form of female oppression which masquerades as respect. I gather that the word madhosh means drunk or intoxicated, which perfectly describes the people who made this if they really thought this film had anything worthwhile or different to say.
Mahendra Sandhu plays Raj, a man we are supposed to believe is attractive and charming, if a little misguided. In reality, he is a narcissistic sociopathic rapist who should be rotting in jail. I loathe him at first sight.
He is utterly and completely repellent, and convinced that he is God’s irresistible gift to the ladies. As the credits roll, he seduces a series of adoring females in hotel rooms, by swimming pools, and on palm-fringed beaches, but none of it is convincing to me because he also:
- licks his lips when he looks at girls (NONONONO)
- wears shiny shirts unbuttoned to his chest
- smokes incessantly and blows the smoke directly into people’s faces
- won’t take no for an answer
- is grabby
and that’s just the stuff I know within the first ten minutes of the film.
He is egged on and abetted by a creepy little gaudily-dressed chamcha named Pyarelal (Raja Duggal?).
His best friend is a singer named Goldie (Rakesh Roshan) who performs at a nightclub (The Room!) in the evenings. Poor Rakesh is burdened by his usual dreadful wig (Fine! You think you need a wig! Pay some good money for one! and don’t make it a combover, for Christ’s sake!) and also by a wispy little caterpillar of a fake mustache. Sigh.
Raj’s wealthy mother (Veena in a bad wig) ignores her beloved beta’s awful behavior like a good cineMaa should. (Do I even need to put adjectives like “bad” in front of “wig” any more? I think not.) She has asked for Goldie’s help in finding Raj a bride, because, you know, he’s such a catch *eye roll*.
Goldie doesn’t approve of Raj’s lechery, and tells him that the new dancer he works with, Mona (Helen), won’t fall for Raj’s charms. When Raj grabs Mona’s dress in the club that night, Goldie comes to her rescue (because poor helpless Mona can’t deal with it herself I suppose, even though she’s clearly as disgusted by Raj as I am).
Afterwards, Raj insults her by insisting that if she’s a cabaret dancer then she must be a prostitute, and asking her how much money will convince her to sleep with him. Goldie chastises him for this attitude, and it’s obvious that he cares for Mona, although Raj learns nothing from their exchange.
Thwarted for the time being, Raj distracts himself by visiting a courtesan named Munni (Jayshree T) who works for brothel madam Pannabai (Shyama). Up for sale: her ostensible virginity, the euphemism for which is “nose ring”.
But alas. Raj and Pyarelal (whose personality is even worse than his clothes!) pass Mona one day trying to hitch a ride at the side of the road. He pulls over and apologizes to her for his bad behavior earlier, then offers her a lift. Pyare drugs a Coke and gives it to her, then takes his leave. She loses consciousness and Raj drives off into a lonely area and rapes her (after blowing smoke into her face).
When Goldie hears about it, he is livid. He goes to see Raj and I bash my head on the arm of my chair.
Fortunately for Mona (although I understand I’m not supposed to think that way) Raj refuses, even when Goldie says that she will probably kill herself. Goldie swears that when Raj himself gets married, he will seduce Raj’s wife in revenge. I sigh again.
Women are not pieces of property or pawns to use in your pissing contests. They are NOT.
Maa now asks Raj to go check on one of their timber estates, and he takes Pyare with him. Almost immediately, his eye is caught by a feisty village belle named Meenal (Reena Roy, one of the only bright spots in this and it’s not her fault it’s such a horror show).
There’s a gratuitous catfight as well—I can enjoy a catfight as much as the next guy, but not when there isn’t any reason for it other than to titillate. It’s just another nail in this film’s coffin, not that it needs any more.
Then Raj naturally tries to rape Meenal too, but since he’s forgotten to drug her she is able to fight back.
Raj wastes no time on self-reflection or why it is that women want to kill themselves after making his acquaintance. He falls in love with Meenal thanks to her dedication to her izzat. Better dead than unchaste, even if you’ve been raped! When your only choices are “irredeemable whore” or “above-reproach goddess”, what’s a girl to do?
It gets worse. We are led to understand that Raj is the way he is because of an awful predatory governess who tucked him in as a boy (little Master Aamir Khan!) and then when he was grownup and could have easily said no, seduced him. The arm of my chair meets my head again.
He sets out now to change Meenal’s mind about him, swearing that he’s a changed man and even getting rid of sidekick Pyarelal when he continues to tempt Raj. Possibly convinced by his new predilection for cowboy outfits (replacing sleazy leisurewear) or because he saves her from a
man in a moth-eaten bear suit, Meenal agrees to marry him.
Maa raises no objections, being simply happy to finally have a bahu and they tie the knot (literally! Hey, is that where the expression comes from?). Raj takes her home with him and for a brief while they are happy as she learns some English, how to wrap a saree, and the magic of modern inventions.
But Goldie has learned of Raj’s marriage, and gets a look at Meenal one day as they drive past each other. Plus it’s not long before Raj is lured back into old habits and the courtesan Munnibai, who pretends to attempt suicide because of her love for him. He sets her up with an income and visits her once a week on Tuesdays—not just as “a friend” either. He even blows his bride off on Karva Chauth! Maa frets along with poor Meenal.
Maybe you should have set some limits on your son, Maa, before he became a spoiled self-absorbed prince.
Goldie learns of Raj’s arrangements with Munnibai and sets up a meeting with the disaffected Pyarelal.
When a disillusioned and heartbroken Meenal confronts her husband about his infidelity, he first tries to placate her and then tells her to go to hell.
Goldie saves Meenal when she tries to kill herself by jumping into the ocean; she confides in him and he tells her briefly about Mona and befriends her. They begin spending a lot of time together, which enrages that jackass hypocrite Raj.
I should say that the one thing the filmmakers did right here was to let Meenal remain a feisty girl with a mind of her own even after marriage (well except for the suicide moment, but she gets over that quickly). She takes gleefully to the plan of making Raj jealous (although he doesn’t seem jealous so much as worried about his reputation) and she is not intimidated by his threats. She continues her friendship with Goldie even when told not to and I love her for it.
But Raj is not the sort to take something like this lightly, and it’s pretty clear that he hasn’t changed much at all from the man who raped poor Mona. Will Goldie and Meenal really fall in love? Will Raj ever get an effing clue? And what has happened to poor Mona?
If you want to know, you are welcome to ask me because I really don’t think anyone should see this film (the ending is the worst part of all). It’s awful, unless you enjoy sexism and slimeballs (and if that’s the case you probably don’t come here anyway). I didn’t even really much like RD Burman’s music, although it’s always fun to watch Helen dance. The cinematography is excellent, and I don’t think I need to say much about the eye-watering fashion: the screencaps pretty much speak loudly for themselves, na?
Oh all right, I do have SOME things to say.
It’s not surprising given the story that the men out-peacock the women in this by a huge margin. But of course the most stylish and peacocky thing of all—even when Rakesh Roshan is wearing a party hat on his shoulder—is The Room. Hotel Horizon zindabad!