Sridevi Daily Review: Khuda Gawah! Sridevi and Amitabh and Nagarjuna

I know this isn’t the best movie, in many ways.  But it is a very enjoyable and memorable movie.  And I’m sleepy and this is a movie I can write about without thinking to much.  Because it doesn’t demand much thought.  Unlike yesterday’s movie, which is part of the reason I was up so late and am now so sleepy.

This is an odd combination of stars kind of movie.  Nagarjuna nearing his peak, Sridevi at her peak, and Amitabh past his.  The one magical moment when they all lined up together.

And also a very odd combination of story elements.  That magical moment when Afghanistan was “cool” and also somewhat peaceful.  And you could have completely over the top separated for decades kind of romances, and also peppy young people romances.  And Sridevi playing a romantic tribal princess racing horses, and a modern tribal princess racing cars.  Laxmikant-Pyarelal composing music for a 90s movie.  And, of course, everyone speaking in third person all the time only.

What makes it work, the one thing that always makes these crazy kooky films work, is the complete sincere commitment on the part of everyone involved.  Amitabh really really believes in speaking in 3rd person.  Sridevi really really believes in going insane through heartbreak and saying only “he is coming” for 20 years.  And, most of all, Danny Denzongpa really really believes in saying his character’s name loudly every 5 minutes (“Khuda BAKSH!”).  Oh Danny!  I love you so!

Speaking of men I love, Nagarjuna is here too!  The first time I watched this film, I found him kind of boring and had no idea why he deserved to have two women in love with him.  But now, having been converted to the wonder of Naga, it makes total sense of course.

But really it’s all about Danny.  And everything he represents, the silly crazy committed over the top acting that I love.  And miss.

 

 

 

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

 

 

 

This is one of those old-fashioned movies with a lot of plot in the plot.  So, strap in and try to follow this.  Amitabh and Sridevi 1 are members of rival tribes.  They meet over a spirited game of Buzkashi, in which two teams on horse back fight over a headless goat body.  Amitabh falls in love when her scarf falls down revealing her face and that she is a woman.  But, she rejects his advances until he brings her the head of the man who killed her father.

It’s easy to miss this bit, but Sridevi isn’t just being random with her demand.  The two tribes are warring because of the death of her father, if Amitabh from the other tribe can avenge the death and bring the head of the killer as proof, then the war will be over and there will be no reason they can’t marry.  So Amitabh, being Amitabh and also The Hero, rides out of Afghanistan into India.  After first introducing himself to India (no really, he has a speech declaring “India!  Badshah Khan has arrived!”), Amitabh rides in and finds the killer, who has now begun to establish a criminal empire in India along with his brother.

Amitabh kills him, and is witness killing him by Honest Police Officer Vikram Gokhale.  There is a conversation about how Amitabh is a Pasthtun and Vikram Gokhale is a Rajput and they are both very brave and all.  Eventually they strike a deal.  Amitabh will go back to Afganistan, deliver the head, get married, and then come back to India to serve his 5 year sentence.  Which he does.  Breaking Sridevi’s heart by leaving her after only a few days of marriage.

Back in India, at first everything is kind of okay.  Vikram Gokhale visits Amitabh in jail, Amitabh counts the days and so does Sridevi, it seems like it will work out.  But then the brother of the man Amitabh killed decides he wants to take revenge and kidnaps Vikram’s small daughter.  Vikram is forced to let Amitabh out, a corrupt cop kills Vikram and Amitabh is framed, and Amitabh can’t say the truth because the Small Daughter is still kidnapped.  Amitabh ends up stuck in jail for many many more years.  Oh, and also, the wife of Corrupt Cop kills him because he is bad and Amitabh takes the blame for that too, so the son of Dead Corrupt Cop grows up hating him while his mother secretly considers Amitabh her brother.

Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, Amitabh told Danny Denzongpa (KHUDA BAKSH!) to tell Sridevi he is dead, since he’s never getting out of jail.  And to marry her and take care of her.  Danny (KHUDA BAKSH!) feels terrible about this but agrees because he is ever loyal.  Sridevi of course goes crazy as soon she hears the news and spends the next twenty years whispering “He’s coming….he’s coming” over and over.  But meanwhile, her and Amitabh’s daughter Sridevi 2 grows up to be a loving daughter and also spirited and confident and all of those things, but in jeans and sports cars instead of furs and horses like Sridevi 1.  She also grows up being that Danny (KHUDA BAKSH!) is her father, and that Sridevi went crazy when she THOUGHT Danny had died, and never recovered even after Danny came back.  But, ultimately, this whole very stupid lie falls apart and Sridevi 2 learns she has a different real father who is in India.

Coincidentally, Amitabh’s indefinite period in jail ends (for no particular reason) just as Sridevi is coming to India to find him.  Amitabh refuses to recognize her, not wanting to ruin her life (but isn’t her life already ruined now that she knows you are her father?  What difference will it make to actually talk to her?).  Also, Sridevi meets Naga, who is the son of the corrupt cop that Amitabh was accused of killing and therefore hates Amitabh, and they fall in love.  But Sridevi doesn’t realize that Shilpa Shirodkar, Small Daughter who was kidnapped and is all grown up, is already in love with Naga.  Oh, and the big bad guy is not happy that Amitabh was released and is trying to get revenge on him too.

Finally, in a ridiculous and very enjoyable ending, Danny (KHUDA BAKSH!) has brought Sridevi 1 to India, the big bad kidnaps her, and Danny (KHUDA BAKSH!!!!), Sridevi 2 and Naga and Shilpa Shirodkar and Amitabh ride in to rescue her (literally).  And the battle turns when Sridevi 1 sees Amitabh for the first time in an unclear number of years and becomes sane.  Amitabh and she walk in slow motion towards each other, while the young people do all sorts of actiony things.  And, of course, Danny struggles against the 6 guys holding him back and throws them all off.  And if you think he isn’t yelling his own name loudly while doing this (KHUDA BAKSH!!!!) than you have not fully grasped what kind of movie this is.

The whole thing is just a delight.  Like, the way Amitabh has little teaser curls that turn grey, or the way you keep thinking at some point there will be more to the lyrics than “Tu Mujhe Kabool” and then there never really is.  Or Sridevi in jeans.  Or the fact that, FOR ONCE, the rejected woman in the love triangle doesn’t end up dying.

(Or this whole song)

So, in conclusion, WATCH THIS MOVIE!  Maybe not if you have to pay money for it, but if you have Netflix, definitely!

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23 thoughts on “Sridevi Daily Review: Khuda Gawah! Sridevi and Amitabh and Nagarjuna

  1. Pingback: Sridevi Daily Review: Khuda Gawah! Sridevi and Amitabh and Nagarjuna -dontcallitbollywood – Business Startup-Bay Area

  2. Like a train wreck, I could not avert my eyes. There are so many Indian movies where I have them running in the background while I do chores, so I only half-watch the film. But with this one, every time I tried to do chores, my eyes again grew transfixed to the screen. I was like a five year old whose parents had turned on the tv so they could feed me my vegetables. Maybe, similar to what you said, it’s the opera-like 1000% commitment to these cartoonish characters that the actors bring, which is only emphasized by the comic book style declarative monologues and dialogs.

    I’ve tried watching other Indian action adventure movies from the 80s-90s to no avail, I can’t *even* with them. So I’m trying to figure out why this one captivated me. Maybe it’s because this is usually a testosterone-filled genre, where a woman is only a love interest or the source of the problem. With this one, there are many important characters who are female, and they all have pivotal roles to play, not just plot devices, and their motivations and emotional lives are all given voice, schlocky as they might be. It really is similar to a Harlequin romance or a Lifetime movie that way.

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    • I think you are right about the stronger female characters. Which doesn’t just mean that, as a woman, I feel like there is someone I can relate to onscreen. It also means that the story as a whole is richer and deeper and just plain better, you’ve got a whole other set of characters doing things in the film instead of just sitting there weeping.

      And we might as well credit that to Sridevi. People didn’t just want to see Amitabh running around doing things, not if Sridevi was in the movie, they wanted to see her do stuff too. And once you start writing young Sridevi and young Naga, you need another leg to the triangle to match Sridevi and you end up with Shilpa Shirodkar having a strong and interesting role also. And old Sridevi coming alive at the end to match Amitabh. And all of that extra layer of goodness to the whole thing.

      Also, now I want to show this movie next time I have to babysit a kid and get them to eat vegetables.

      On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 9:42 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Even the secondary characters… Nagarjuna’s mom was as well drawn as the good cop and Pasha –
        and better drawn than the bad cop and Habibdullah(?) – as were her relationships with both Amitabh and young & old Nagarjuna.

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        • That part feels like kind of a throw back. I’m thinking of, like, Don where the heroine was the equal of the hero. The 70s heroines and mother roles and all the rest sometimes feel so much richer than the 80s and 90s and even today heroines.

          On Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 2:43 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. `
    I still occasionally enter a room, slap my chest, and boom, “Badshah Khan!”

    I love the last scene, even with the ridiculous bazooka thing and the weird costuming, I always tear up when they do the last ride with the slow-mo flash back. And the then bad guy goes BONK !!

    Of course, the plot is too crazy to follow to closely, particularly when you add up all the years.

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  4. I watched half of this on Monday night meaning to watch the rest the following night – came across it on Netflix. Then our phone and internet went dead…but that has now been restored and I will carry on with it another day.
    Much melodrama with hyper-booming echo-y Amitabh voice, lol, and I was thinking that for someone living in a kind of tribal situation Sridevi/Benazir sure did have a plentiful supply of cosmetics, hee hee.

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    • Here’s what really blows my mind. All those songs with the heavy furs and silks and so on, filmed on soundstages (obviously), but back before Hindi soundstages were air conditioned! Can you imagine?

      On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 10:28 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. You obviously haven’t met any real pathans have you?? This is how they talk. Mostly. In film lore, this is how they usually talked! And this was a tribal warlord! Well, not much as a warlord as a what you’d call an Aga in Turkey. Which is very different from what a wadera would be! Or a chaudhary in Punjab. Those are proper feudal lords even though the social setup is essentially the same. Since that is pretty familiar, the tribal setup in the film has a familiar feel to it.

    Also, did you notice the presence of the green flags and the Muslim element are romanticised in this film. And how the songs with the tribal backup dancers look so much like bajirao and padmavati?!!

    On a sort of unrelated note, the name of this film is a nod to the sufi traditions which basically say that khuda is the only gawah you need and have and that’s what should guide your moral compass!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well now I want to meet a real Pathan! Except, being in America, any Pathan I might meet will probably be some doctor/engineer type in glasses and I will be very disappointed.

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        • SRK is a Pathan, and he talks like this in many interviews. Referring to himself in the third person, thus giving himself licence to both compliment and criticize himself, using florid poetic lyrical declarative language.

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          • I think we are so used to it from him that we forget that it’s there. Yes he talks like this but in the most charming way.

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          • You are right! And I feel like that might have been something he learned from and imitated from his father, so directly from the Pathan attitude. IT doesn’t feel like the sort of thing you put on in imitation or something, more natural than that, it just flows easily out of him.

            On Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 11:58 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That’s highly doubtful. Mostly becasuerthe only pathans that talk like that IRL are people who grew up in their villages in the tribal areas. In India, those are rare but not uncommon. Like the Kashmiri khans that migrated to himachal or the plains post-insurgency in Kashmir, they talk like that. A bit. But at least what I got from older members of my family is that the typical pathan dialect came from afghani pathans that often come to India to trade. Usually the dried fruit traders.

            And it isn’t just the referring to self in third person that characterises their dialect, it’s also their usage of the feminine in verb inflections. Like hoti (be/is). Karti (do) Deti (give). Aati (come). It should be hota, karta, deta, aata when a man is speaking for himself or about or to another man. But pathanspeak doesn’t do that. When it does, it disregards the fact that hota, karta, deta, aata (male verb inflections) are paired with “hoon” to denote that is the subject that does the “verb”. In both hindi and urdu. Almost all tribal languages are economical in this sense. Hindi/urdu just throw every part of grammar in the same sentence plus more emphasis words. Tribal languages is a lot more brief. So a pathan would say “hum aati” which could mean “main aaya” (I came), “main aaya tha” (I had come), “main aaunga” (I will come) or “main abhi aaya” (I will be back) and you just have to understand what he means by the context of the entire conversation.

            It’s really cute! 😂

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          • He’s soooooooo far away from THOSE typical pathans. That’s him just talking about himself as part of an anecdote. THOSE typical pathans talk like that always. Because they’re adjusting their native language for urdu/hindi. Even their women talk like that.

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