The 80's will be back! screamed the trailers of Himmatwala. As an 80's child, I have to admit loving the 80's masala films like Mawaali, Justice Chaudhry, and of course, Mithun da films like Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki (I am Bengali after all!).
When I heard Sajid Khan was remaking the film, I was hoping he would channel some of Farah Khan's spoofing abilities (think Om Shanti Om), and from the trailer, I actually started looking forward to the film as a time-pass entertainer. Unfortunately, I forgot that there was one problem in the way of this film becoming entertaining - Sajid Khan.
The Himmatwala revamp doesn't faithfully stick to the original film, instead being a mix of the original Jeetendra starrer, and the Chunky Pandey-Kimi Katkar film Paanch Paapi.
Ravi (Ajay Devgn), a street fighter, returns to his village of Ramnagar, after finding out his mother Savitri (Zarina Wahab), and sister who he thought had died years ago, were still alive. On return, Ravi finds out his father, the village Pujari, was framed of robbery, which obviously lead him committing suicide because of the shame. Following this, the pujari's house was set on fire, but the maata ji miraculously escapes with her daughter. The bad guys of the piece are Sher Singh (Mahesh Manjrekar), the evil sarpanch and his saala Narayan Das (Paresh Rawal).
How could this be a remake of Himmatwala without the taming of the shrew angle? In comes Sher Singh's daughter Rekha (Tamannah Bhatia), who dresses like a hooker and constantly repeats the fact that she 'hates gareebs'. After Ravi saves her from a sher (a CGI one, not her father), she predictably falls in love (Ta Taiya Ta Taiya ho-o-o-o), and starts wearing salwaar kameez.
The Paanch Paapi connection could potentially spoil the kahaani mein twist, but I am convinced that the only two people in the world to have seen Paanch Paapi are me and Sajid Khan, so in case this review isn't enough to put you off watching the film, it shouldn't be provided any major spoilers.
Himmatwala boasts of performances which rival the level of direction. Strangely, Ajay Devgn seems to channel Shatrughan Sinha in his performance, rather than Jeetendra (and disappointingly, he doesn't wear the white trousers/white shoe combo). It's really sad to see an actor who has previously done films like Zakhm reduce himself to this for money. Tamannah Bhatia does what is required of her – show a lot of skin and prance around like a bimbo. Paresh Rawal uses a technique of talking to the camera (previously used by Kader Khan in Ghar Ho To Aisa), and unfortunately ends up being the butt (pun not intended) of the gay jokes/scenes, which Sajid Khan has feels the need to include in all of his films (is he trying to tell us something?!). Mahesh Manjrekar doesn't know whether to be a comedian or villain, and hence comes across as completely ineffective. Asrani makes us feel sorry for the state he has ended up in, Zarina Wahab unintentionally evokes laughs with her dialogues. The surprise for me was Adhyayan Suman, last noticably seen as the leading man in Jashnn, who has put on a fair bit of weight and now seems to be happy being a side villain (he reprises Shakti Kapoor's role from the original, and needless to say, is completely wooden).
The music includes Naino Mein Sapna and Taki Taki from the original film (interestingly, Taki O Taki is used in the same situation that Wah Wah Wah Khel Shuru Ho Gaya from the original film). The rest of Sajid Wajid's songs, include a ridiculous song titled Bum Pe Laat (the makers must have found this hilarious), and a tasteless item number with 5 skimpily clad girls (which, ironically comes shortly after our Himmatwala gives a lecture on the integrity of women). Sachin-Jigar guest compose Haathi Mere Saathi Sonakshi's item number Thank God It's Friday, which adds nothing to the film, and seems to have been inserted so that Sonakshi can be part of EVERY pathetic masala film being made.
The main problem with Himmatwala is that in a way, it resembles a bad Ramsey horror film – the comedy scenes are painfully unnecessary, and the rest of the film is unintentionally funny. Unfortunately the film doesn't quite reach the so-bad-it's-good category either. The action scenes (of which this film has a lot) are also surprisingly routine.
At the end of the day, whatever is written makes no difference to Sajid Khan. His films always seem to have producers, and he's already working on his next 'out and out comedy' with Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, and Ritesh Deshmukh. I guess it must be people like this who make his film earn 100 Crore!
Many years back, Sajd Khan used to front a program called Kehne Mein Kya Harj Hai on a satellite channel, which was a hilarious look at fairly obscure movies. Pity the show isn't on air anymore, Himmatwala would be a prime candidate for that show.