The 80’s Are BACK, go for it – 3.5/5.0
The 80s movies of Bollywood are usually associated with what is popularly called ‘nonsense, rubbish cinema’. However, one can’t deny the fact that some of these ‘rubbish’ films had their charm. And today, when South remakes are in vogue, it in a way seems like a return of the 80s era. Hence, Himmatwala wouldn’t have come at a better time. The original was a Southern remake and a trendsetter in those times. The remake, helmed by Sajid Khan, sadly has rough edges but overall, doles out tons of entertainment!
The story of the movie: Mumbai, 1983. Ravi (Ajay Devgn) is a cage fighter who learns that his mother Savitri (Zarina Wahab) and sister Padma (Leena Jumani), believed to be dead, are very much alive in his village, Ramnagar. However, they are living in dire conditions outside the village, thanks to village sarpanch and goon Sher Singh (Mahesh Manjrekar), who’s also behind the humiliation and consequent suicide of Ravi’s father Dharam Murti (Anil Dhawan). Ravi decides to avenge his father’s death and teach Sher Singh, who has terrorized Ram Nagar residents, a lesson but in his own style. Soon, he challenges Sher Singh and his brother-in-law Narayan Das (Paresh Rawal) that he’s here at Ramnagar to change things for the better. Ravi also falls for Sher Singh’s daughter Rekha (Tamannaah Bhatia) and changes her attitude towards villagers and the poor. However, trouble begins when Sher Singh learns that Padma and Narayan Das’ son Shakti (Adhyayan Suman) are in love and he decides to take advantage of this development to beat Ravi.
The trailers of Himmatwala gave a fair idea about the film. Also, those who have seen the original version would have their expectations at the right place. And as expected, the film is abound with clichés and 80s stereotypes like vidhwa maa, kunwari behen (who gets molested and is saved by the hero at the nick of time), temples, temple bells, dialoguebaazi et al. But the best part is, it works big time in a setting like Himmatwala! And how can I forget, there’s a tiger too!
Unfortunately, Himmatwala isn’t devoid of flaws. The beginning portions, barring Ajay Devgn’s entry shot (and the ‘in an as…Himmatwala’ mention), doesn’t quite impress. Things heat up only at the scene where Ravi meets Narayan Das and later Sher Singh. Only Taaki O Taaki and Naino Mein Sapna work. Thank God It’s Friday somehow doesn’t make a mark. Same goes for ‘Bum Pe Laat’ and the so-called ‘mother of all item songs’, ‘Dhoka Dhoka’ (featuring 5 regional cinema hotties). Sajid-Farhad’s dialogues have done a fabulous job in their previous films but some of their one-liners in this film fail to evoke any reaction. Moreover, Sajid Khan‘s claims that Himmatwala is a clean family entertainer falls flat in the scene where Mahesh Manjrekar and Paresh Rawal sleep on the same cot. The ‘kekda’ sequence too doesn’t raise much of laughs as it reminded of a similar scene in Sajid Khan’s Housefull 2 which was much better.
But thankfully, the positives outweigh the cons. The film keeps you gripped from start to finish, though it’s almost 150 minutes long. One may argue that the twist in the tale, during intermission point, was unnecessary but it gets neatly incorporated in narrative. The much-talked about tiger sequences are brilliant (although CGI could had been better) and it works big time in the clichéd climax when the film goes on an all time high.
Ajay Devgn doesn’t attempt to imitate Jeetendra even at a single point and looks absolutely convincing fighting goons, romancing Tamannaah and mouthing powerful dialogues. Ajay also exhibits his comic timing which stands out from the rest of his performances. Tamannaah Bhatia looks absolutely stunning and delivers a confident performance. Though not matching up to Sridevi, she manages to stun with her adahs in ‘Naino Mein Sapna’. Hope she makes the right choices because she has all the ingredients to be the next Katrina or Kareena or maybe, Sridevi!
Paresh Rawal looks hilarious in his look and does very well. But one wonders why he imitated Kader Khan (who played the same role in the original) at places. Mahesh Manjrekar fails to evoke fear (which Amjad Khan wonderfully did in the original) but manages to dole out a decent performance. Adhyayan Suman makes viewers sit up and take notice. Zarina Wahab was apt for the role while Leena Jumani too leaves a mark. Rajendra Gupta, Anil Dhawan and Vindoo Dara Singh are okay. The item girls – Sonakshi Sinha (Thank God It’s Friday) and Sayantani Ghosh, Rinku Ghosh, Amruta Khanvilkar, Mona Thiba and Surveen Chawla (Dhoka Dhoka) are sizzling but the songs aren’t.
Sajid-Wajid’s music is strictly alright. The two songs that work are the ones taken from the original – ‘Taaki O Taaki’ and ‘Naino Mein Sapna’. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background score is loud but effective. Sabu Cyril’s sets looks believable to an extent. Jai Singh Nijjar’s action is unbelievable in certain scenes but makes a mark overall. Sajid-Farhad’s dialogues do have the dum but at some places, it falls flat which is shocking considering their outstanding work in the past. Sajid Khan deserves praise for coming up with a worthy plot for the remake and for neatly removing the unwanted stuff and adding his own bit in such a way that the essence of the film doesn’t get compromised. As for direction, it is not as good as in his previous films and few scenes fail to make a mark. Also, the references to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the famous ‘bina-faatak-ki-patri’ sequences fail miserably. But at the same time, he compensates in other scenes and shows his brilliance in the climax. It might seem far-fetched and too over-the-top but for a film like Himmatwala, which is a remake of a 80s entertainer and based in the 80s too, it was a well-written and executed finale!
Some of the best scenes:
1. Ravi meets Narayan Das
2. Ravi meets Sher Singh
3. Ravi meets Rekha
4. The songs ‘Naino Mein Sapna’ and ‘Taaki O Taaki’
5. The tiger scenes
6. The intermission point
7. Ravi saves Padma from goons
8. Ravi ‘contests’ for panchayat elections
On the whole, Himmatwala is an entertainer from the word ‘Go’. It has few glitches and the two item songs fail to make any mark whatsoever. But the film has its moments, especially in the finale which is grand and maddening. It’s a feat that the trademark 80s clichés like taaviz, mandir ki ghanti, mother praying for son at a temple etc and not to forget, the tiger can work so well in a film in today’s times. Those who have seen the original and have an appetite for such films, go for it and have a great time!