Sajid Khan's Ajay Devgan-Tamannah Bhatia starring remake of the 1983 Bollywood masala hit 'Himmatwala' is neither a drama nor a comedy. It 's somewhere in-between. The remake of such trash which heralded Sridevi's second coming and Jeetendra'refreshed innings could only have been distinctive if there was some grand idea behind it's rehash.
The Joker in Sajid Khan of course must have opted for a spoof but the story is so outlandishly unfunny that not even a terrific Paresh Rawak can save it from it's contradictory posturing.
Sajid Khan of course refuses to accept defeat and manages to insert some of the most inane and conversely zany dialogues ever heard in the cinemas. Some inadvertently laughter seeking and others largely tedious. The story is a retread.
The pujari Dharam Murti (Anil Dhawan)of a village is falsely implicated in a robbery because he was the sole witness to the sarpanch's misdeeds. He hangs himself in shame and his angry young son attempts to murder the perpetrator but is unsuccessful and has to flee for his life.
The Sarpanch, Sher Singh (Mahesh Manjrekar) decides to burn down their house and the widow (Zarina Wahab)and her daughter (Leena Jumani playing the older version) are forced to live on a subsistence existence outside the village. The son Ravi(Ajay Devgan) returns claiming to be a CBI officer, once he learns that his mother and sister are alive .
And then sets out to reform the Sarpanch, his henchman /Jija Narayandas(Paresh Rawal) and the sarpanch's wayward daughter Rekha(Tamannaah Bhatia) who comes back from the city just when things in the village are hotting up.
The narrative is filled to the brim with issues of impersonation, bhai-bahen and mother -son melodrama, toonish fight sequences, tacky song and dance, contradictory and irresponsible messages and sheer unmitigated gall. The first half is silliness personified. But for a few stray titters the sheer ludicrousness of the storyline makes it immensely tedious.
It's only when Ravi(who is not Ravi really) turns the tables on the Sher Singh-Narayan Das-Shakti( Adhyaman Suman) triumvirate that it gets suddenly howlarious. But even that doesn't last for long because the climax seeks reformation and repentance and the last 15-20 minutes is sheer bedlam.
It really appears as if Sajid Khan has attempted to create a light and frothy souffle out of the ingredients meant for a spicy-tangy flavoured curry. And his efforts are not all laugh worthy. But for the fact that the story is a retread, and that some of the songs and dances are redux versions there is little of the old 'Himmatwala' in the new one.
The old one came when the Hindi film industry was reeling under a spate of multi- star cast flops and had a rejuvenated Jeetendra teaming up with a saucily sensational and young Sridevi( for whom this was a second coming in the Hindi film industry after the debacle of 'Solva Saal.').
The film was also a remake of a telugu hit and so had all the ingredients that the audience of that day found likeable. In fact it was the crass comedy, foot-tapping music coupled with Sridevi's sexy presence that made the original Padmalaya version of 'Himmatwala' a hit.
In the original the Jeetendra's fight with the tiger was quite badly done but Sajid's version has competent CGI making the artificial look pretty if not real.
In the Sajid Khan version, Tamannah does her best to look and act like Sridevi but she doesn't have the chutzpah or the sauciness to make it look great. Ajay Devgan who is definitely leaps and bounds ahead of Jeetendra as an actor, does manage an irreverent conviction but the sour look on his saggy face takes away loads from the enjoyment.
So . it's mostly up to Mahesh Manjrekar and Paresh Rawal to keep the audience in splits and they do so in resplendent fashion striking super sparks off each other and making their intentionally double-loaded dialogues sound funnier than aimed for.
Mahesh Manjrekar is definitely coming into his own as a comic actor but it's Paresh Rawal who steals the thunder and the splits with his absolutely whacky Narayan Das.
Zarina Wahab does the stereotype act of vengeance seeking widow as a standard issue performance while Leena Jumani, as Ravi's sister makes her presence felt with a sincere and emphatic performance. Adhyaman Suman also manages to make his presence felt as does Reitesh Deshmukh whose cameo is quietly riveting.
Sajid Khan's dialogues harkens back to the Kader Khan days and so is not exactly distinctive or entirely funny. It's a matter of taste ultimately. . Sandeep Shirodkar's background score does a fair rehash of the 80's style while Sajid-Wajid's score for the songs is orchestrated with limited amiability. This is in fact a half-hearted spoof better suited to Salman Khan's oeuvre rather than Ajay Devgan's.
So it's mainly the performances and the brief parlays into rabid humour that keeps this 'Himmatwala' going.
Rating: * * 1/2