Happy Birthday Nagarjuna! Khuda Gawah, Your Only Movie on Netflix

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.

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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5 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Nagarjuna! Khuda Gawah, Your Only Movie on Netflix

      • Kajol, kajal, kaajal, and kohl all work.

        You cab definitively say how an Indian word is spelled in its native script, but in English/Roman script it’s very fluid. (I’m sure newspapers and publishers have settled on their standards though)

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        • This is why I love writing about Indian film, for once my spelling issues don’t matter as much. Of course I still manage to completely miss spell English words, and occasionally Indian words to the point that it is clearly a mistake and not an alternate spelling.

          On Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 11:26 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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