The ApunKaChoice movie review of Himmatwala. Deft direction, intelligent plot, clever writing, multi-layered story, restrained performances, and lots of realism. All these things Sajid Khan’s latest caper Himmatwala obviously DOES NOT HAVE.
What it has is loads of kitsch, ostentation, over-the-top performances, mawkish drama, slapstick comedy, heroism, buffoonery, and slambang action. In short, what’s called masala in Bollywood parlance. The film is an unapologetic, unrestrained celebration of the 1980s kitsch. It is an ode to Manmohan Desai’s cinema, and a buffet of campiness we thought had long become extinct until the likes of Sajid Khan came good in Bollywood.
The only thing good about Himmatwala is that it has no pretense of being a heavy-duty brainer. It knows it’s silly, ridiculous, nonsensical, and is content being in that flimsy skin. What’s certainly not good -- apart from the aforementioned ills -- about it is its length (2hrs 30mins) and its many lame jokes that fall flat on their face.
In essence, the film is adapted from K. Raghavendra Rao's 1983 namesake hit starring Jeetendra and Sridevi, but Sajid Khan throws in a few new twists and twirls in the plot, axes a few characters from the original to add a few of his own in the remake, not the least of which is a growling tiger who also becomes our hero’s friend.
The tale is pretty much the same. A son (Ajay Devgn) returns to his paternal village to avenge the ignominy of his idealist father at the hands of an evil sarpanch (Mahesh Manjrekar). He’s got his mother (Zarina Wahab) and sister in tow, and has Ma Sherawali ka aashirwad thanks to which he takes on 50 strong and shabby goons unleashed on him by his enemy.
And then there’s the pretty, pampered, snobbish heroine (Tamannaah). She’s the uppity Miss snooty who’s whiplashed into her place by the unsubtle hero. Cupid strikes, love replaces loathing, and in no time the duo is jiving to ‘Naino Mein Sapna’ amid thousands of matkas. ‘Ta Thaiya Ta Thaiya Ho!’
Ajay Devgn plays to the gallery. He mouths loud dialogues, dons ridiculously garish clothes, hobbles his way through the dances, fights a tiger and does unbelievable stunts. In one scene he heaves a bullock cart and throws it -- sans the bull -- at the goons, sending them flying back in the direction they came from. Tamannaah dances well but doesn’t act half as good. Paresh Rawal is the only source of respite in Himmatwala. As the droll and derisive sidekick of the antagonist, he’s surely funny at times. Mahesh Manjrekar as the huffing, puffing, nostril flaring sarpanch overdoes his part. On the sidelines, Adhyayan Suman and Asrani are wasted.
To sum it up, watching Himmatwala requires a lot of Himmat on the part of a viewer. Make time for it only if you are an ardent Ajay Devgn fan and can stand Sajid Khan’s brand of escapist masala fare.