As “THE END” faded to black onscreen, my sister pointed out that we have really been bottom-feeding for our entertainment recently. Crawling through the gutter looking for pleasure, as it were, although I would say that it hasn’t all been that pleasurable (Kambakkht Ishq, Ram Balram). This movie, though, left me with a guilty and somewhat sick sense of satisfaction—somewhat like the feeling I get after consuming an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, for example: “Ugh, why did I do that? Now I hate myself! But it tasted so good while I was eating it!”
If Ben and Jerry were to take these ingredients: testosterone, child abuse, vengeance, disco, spandex, Michael Jackson rip-offs—and mix them into a tub of karmic convulsion-inducing bad deeds, they would have to call the resulting flavor Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki (even if they had no idea what that means).
In a film not much given to understatement, this is an understatement indeed:
Amrish Puri, a man known for his EYEBALLS OF HATE™, is so very hatefully evil in this that even the most civilized of people (me and my sister!) are soon panting for his blood. He must pay! we shout at the television. He is Uday Bhan Singh, entrusted with the care and upbringing of young Prince Satish (Master Bobby) after the death of the King. Greedy Uday wants all the wealth for himself, and torments the defenceless boy by beating him mercilessly and messing up his multiplication tables.
The poor little guy does his best to stick up for himself, but he really has no chance.
Satish grows up in cowering fear to become a sweet but terrified young man (Mithun Chakraborty). His Daimaa (Gita Siddharth) gives him the only warmth and love he ever experiences, and it is she also who finds a young woman to marry him. This young woman is Aarti (Smita Patil), whose uncle forces her to marry the sad Prince in order to steal all the royal wedding jewelry. But Aarti is unexpectedly overcome with love for her new husband—whose Daimaa gives him these words of advice on his wedding night:
Uday is not happy with this development; he has gone to great lengths (trust me) to ensure that Satish remain unmarried, leaving his kingdom free for Uday’s son Chander to inherit. In a fit of anger he brutally murders poor Satish in front of Aarti, who is now pregnant with Satish’s child. I feel sad that the last thing Satish sees in his short miserable life is that polka-dotted vest advancing towards him.
Uday orders Bob Christo to throw Satish’s body in a river, which is enough for the police to issue a suicide verdict (the giant stab wounds in his stomach notwithstanding); and Aarti vows to avenge her husband’s death. Some day. She will wait.
We are totally on board by now with bloodthirsty retribution, although given that this is the dedication with which the movie begins:
I fear that poor Satish’s little child won’t have any happier a childhood than Satish himself.
Aarti has the boy she prays for (I wonder what she would have done with a girl? I kind of would like to see that version) and brings him up as a fighter, starting the day the school bully beats him up.
Bees saal baad, Avinash has grown up to be Mithun again, but now he’s the savior of the basti where he lives with his Maa, and he has a penchant for disco and Michael Jackson (I’m relieved to know that Maa lets him have SOME fun) (if it can be called that).
I honestly don’t know which assault is worse: the one on my eyes, or the one on my ears. In any case, it eventually ends and Avinash saves the lead singer Naina (Salma Agha) from a bunch of loathsome drunk men.
They fall in love in about two seconds flat and seal that love with a Bappi Lahiri version of “Billie Jean” that has to be seen to be believed. Salma is forced to wear camel-toe inducing spandex, and Mithun…my God, Mithun. DANCES. Or something. At various times he looks like an elderly man wringing his hands, an epileptic, and as if someone has shoved a broom up his ass. I think perhaps it’s second only to Sam’s dance (“Koi Naache Naache”) in Disco Dancer in its awfulness. Whenever I’ve previously seen Mithun…um…”dance”…he has only been striking a series of indifferent poses; here, he actually tries, and it makes me want to cry.
And also: Salma Agha is creepy. Probably not her fault, but why is she wearing those contact lenses? They don’t even look real; she resembles a vampire or demon from some Harinam Singh or Ramsay Brothers flick.
Maa doesn’t care for her either, mostly because romance will interfere with her plans for Avinash. She finally fills him in on why she’s brought him up to be an angry fist-fighting machine (and in the telling we are subjected to the first half-hour of the film all over again). Avinash is suitably enraged.
My sister and I CANNOT wait. We’ve been holding our breath for twenty years! (Honestly, it feels that way.)
Aarti and Avinash now seem to feel the need to telegraph their every move to Uday Bhan Singh. Aarti even writes a letter so Uday will know that Avinash is coming to get him, and on which train he’s due to arrive.
Despite Uday’s precautions, Avinash appears at Chander Bhan Singh’s (Karan Razdan—Sam Oberoi! heh) birthday party in another senses-damaging spectacle, complete with backup male dancers in fringed harlequin manpris and chubby girls in shiny metallic bikinis.
Uday Bhan Singh doesn’t recognize Avinash until he takes off his sunglasses even though he’s been warned in advance and Mithun looks exactly like himself his father. (Bob Christo reappears eventually too, and hasn’t aged a bit although everyone else has. It’s just that kind of movie.)
As Avinash, with his Maa and Naina’s help—the women get to participate in the vendetta too—begins to wreak his vengeance I feel a little bad. They are really not very good at the whole revenge thing. They have some good ideas: Naina gets the whole story of Satish’s murder from Chander on tape; gets him to fall for her and then rejects him, to his everlasting distress; and they manage to drive him (and me) mad with a frame-by-frame remake of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.
Amrish Puri Nahiiiiin! Face:
But Avinash never quite grasps this basic concept: When you have the upper hand, don’t leave your Maa and your girlfriend lying around where Uday Bhan Singh can find them! Sigh. For every step taken forward, he falls two or three back when Uday retaliates.
Of course in the end, despite these issues, Avinash and his Maa manage to extract gory retribution from Uday Bhan Singh and his son for the ill treatment of poor Satish (and Aarti) decades before.
Sated with blood, explosions and disco, we sisters heave a sigh of relief that it’s over, and wonder how it is that something so terrible could keep us positively riveted for so long. Mithun-da has strange and compelling powers indeed.