Himmatwala: The Viewer That Is

Director: Sajid Khan

Rating: Not Applicable

If you have been following Sajid Khan’s early shows on television, you’ll remember him more as a film buff than as a filmmaker. He adores campy cinema and loves it when actors ham. All of us have guilty pleasures so that’s perfectly all right. But to convert them to a feature length film is stretching it. A few days ago, I revisited the Jeetendra version and thought I have seen the nadir. But Sajid Khan has just invented a world below this muck.


The story more or less remains the same. A son of the soil returns after years to see his maa-behenin shambles and the wicked Sarpanch still lording over huddled villagers. Since the DVD of the original is easily available, a frame-by-frame remake doesn’t make much sense. So at the halfway point a twist has been introduced. A twist whose sole purpose is to herald the interval.

Seeing the trailers, I thought this is going to be one nice spoof. Which could have been the right idea considering the basic material doesn’t have much to offer. At times, it does venture into that territory. But jokes that can make you guffaw over a water cooler conversation do not necessarily make a successful transition to celluloid. The humour is so misplaced that a couple of mavalis sitting in the row before me did not even bother to whistle.

This is Sajid Khan’s first film without Akshay Kumar and he can’t have missed him more. An actor who realizes that he is trapped in silliness and ad libs his way through the mess is what the film needs. Ajay Devgn is way too stuck up with his “intensity” to let himself loose with mindless comedy. His attempts at repeating Jeetendra’s unique dance moves too fall flat. Tamannah looks like a mint drop but doesn’t have much of a role. At least she doesn’t make a fool of herself like Paresh Rawal and Mahesh Manjrekar. The camera captures this duo either at full length or from waist up while they are carrying out their buffoonery and punishingly, it stares at them for more seconds than required. The impact is like a bad, slapstick play which tests the patience of audience and gets a few mercy laughs. Just because Kader Khan played the Munimji in the earlier version, Rawal’s character has been fashioned on Khan’s entire oeuvre. From his gruff voice to his nasal voice, from his innovative moustache to when he breaks the fourth wall.

Throughout the film, Sajid Khan freely dips into popular cinema. Sometimes as a tribute, sometimes as a take-off and few other times as a rip-off. Yet I can’t quite place where he got the idea of introducing a tiger in a supporting role. It seems like a cross between Mr. Natwarlal and Life of Pi. Soon we’ll have a category for Best Animal Performer at the Filmfares.

We often castigate Sanjay Leela Bhansali for making self-indulgent cinema. I feel this film is no different. Sajid Khan knows exactly what he is doing and he is doing it out of choice. After a particularly cheesy scene in the film, Ajay Devgn looks at the camera and says “Kyun, mazaa nahi aaya na?”. Indeed Sajid, mazaa nahi aaya.


Original: http://www.madaboutmoviez.com/2013/03/review-hindi-film-himmatwala/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=review-hindi-film-himmatwala
By: Devang Ghia
Posted: March 29, 2013, 2:53 pm


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