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First things first. I am a teenager from the dreadful 80s and though I did not see all the Jeetendra-Sridevi Jayaprada starrers which were a rage then, I was a big fan of the songs and danced endlessly to ‘taki re taki’ and ‘maana maana main hoon mawaali’ (phew, that is a HUGE confession to make).
So having stated my position on this, I can appreciate why Sajid would have wanted to remake Himmatwala his way. It moulded him (I guess) to some degree. Which is all very good and indulgent but if I wanted to see the rubbish that passed off as cinema in the 80s I would rather see the original trash then a (not so ) new take off on it. The original movies thought they were way cool then and took their melodrama and kitschy dancing and costumes earnestly and sincerely. This remake with its jokey references to it being an 80s movie and an overall sense of not taking its content seriously, mars the earnestness with which it should have been made by a true fan.
Ravi returns to the village where his dad committed suicide after being falsely accused of theft by the Sarpanch Sher Singh, (the Big Mean Guy there). He is the Himmatwala who will restore his dad’s honour, get his mother and sister the ‘izzat’ they have lost, tame the Sarpnach’s wild daughter who "hates garibs" and rescue the village from mayhem. He will fight men and tigers and throw around bullock carts. And when not busy fighting he will dance amongst the colourful pots on a beach with the wild daughter.
Sher Singh (played by Mahesh Manjrekar) is not menacing enough. Most of the time he look like a benevolent uncle. Paresh Rawal plays the sidekick in a strange judge’s wig hairstyle and provides the laughs. The heroine Tamannah is not a patch on Sridevi and looks a bit awkward in the dance sequences. Zarina Wahab is effective as the boo hoo mother who calls on sherawali to save her son. Ajay Devgn rocks. As usual his comic timing provides some of the best laughs in the movie. He is also all burning eyes intensity in the angry scenes. He is the star of this movie and he is the only reason one could sit through it.
There are quite a few funny scenes and those are the saving grace. However, you cannot escape a sense of weariness while watching the movie. There is an outdated feel to the story that is hard to not get impatient with. Modern audiences cannot really stomach lines like “beti ek baar sasural gayi to uski arthi hi wahan se nikalti hai.” A true modern Himmatwala would have done something about the ill treatment his sister faces and not resort to his girlfriend’s fake pregnancy to get the bad man to toe the line.
The music is pretty decent. Of cuorse, naino mein sapna and taki re taki are well known, but even the new disco song is pretty good.
So, the question arises. Is a remake supposed to be a copy of the original with fresh faces, or does a remake have the liberty to take the essence of the original (which after all made the original a hit) and make it work in the present context? I would wait for Chashme Buddoor next week to take this thought ahead. In the meantime, I would not particularly recommend this one. If you are feeling nostalgic, hire a DVD and watch Jeetendra in white with a buxom Sridevi while waving feather dusters on the beach and get your kicks. This one is purely for Ajay Devgan fans only.