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Movie Review: 'Himmatwala'

It isn’t difficult to tell that intellectually this film will appeal best only to five-year-olds and true B-Grade film buffs. After all, this film has a song called 'Bum Pe Laath', which has wedding guests kicking the heroine and her goons in the ass to the tune of the Birdie song.

There is a reason that the ’80s were considered to be the worst decade in the history of Hindi films. The Kader Khan 'jism ki imaarat mein faulad ke iraade' type of metaphors, the matkas and the jangling temple bells, the exploitative zamindar, the widowed and victimised mother, and about-to-be-raped or married-cum-tortured sister and the divine Devi Ma intervention at the climax – we know these cliches by heart. The all new, advanced Himmatwala rounds up all these props together, almost systematically ticking them off one by one as its story progresses, into an implausible story.

Ajay Devgn, Tamannaah
Ajay Devgn and Tamannaah in a still from the song 'Tathaiya Tathaiya' in Himmatwala. 

So here is the story of Ravi, who has returned after God-knows-how-many-years to Ramnagar to take revenge on village bad-man Sher Singh for having wrongly accused his poojari father of theft and driving his family out of the village. But Ravi is a himmatwala, shorthand for brawn power that can break open locks with a punch, defeat dozens of henchmen in half a dozen Indian languages and even talk sense into a tiger by saying, “If you stay back to eat these oppressed half-dead villagers, you’ll be dieting. If you go to the jungle, you’ll die eating.”

Soon Ravi is able to score one or two over Sher Singh and his comic sidekick Narayandas by slipping crabs in their pants so they can show their break-dance skills. There is also a whip-wielding mini-skirt clad shrewish heroine (bad-man’s daughter who claims with great aplomb, “I hate  
garibs.”), who has to be taught a lesson in love. Well, you know the drill. There’s nothing in Sajid Khan’s film that we haven’t seen before in the
video ages or in television spoofs over the last few years.

Clearly this is the director’s best film so far. But while it is funny and entertaining in recreating that period, Khan’s version is unable to decide whether it is a comic tribute to that age of trashy sagas, an outright spoof or just a plain remake. It makes a dull start but picks up pace with the help of Paresh Rawal and Devgn’s slapstick timing, even appearing to laugh at itself. However by the thick of the second half, the film having showed all its Aces and Jokers, slips into the familiar melodrama and the angst of the ’80s.

Ajay Devgn’s in top alpha-male action-comedy form. Tamannaah looks fresh and pretty. Paresh Rawal’s Kader Khan take-off absolutely rocks. The songs
are a let-down; other than the classics Nainon mein sapna and Taki ho, the music is pretty much forgettable. As it is, the original Himmatwala was no masterpiece. But catch it if you are feeling nostalgic about heroes wearing white-trousers and jackets and talking of garibi and badla.

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