Friday Classics: Main Khiladi Tu Anari, SO GAY!

It’s just SOOOOO GAY!!!! So much gayer than I remembered. Needlessly gay, it’s a fun movie even if you watch it “straight”, and then on top of the regular fun movie, they put in these ridiculous heaping helpings of gayness.

Back in the 90s, you could have a random movie with two large-ish name heroes, one large name heroine, a well-known comic, and a bunch of other actors no one knew. Plus some great songs and clever action sequences. And none of this was a big deal. It was just a movie, like any other movie that came out every Friday. No big producer attached, no famous director, just a random decent movie and it came out and people liked it. And now it is a movie you run across and think “oh yeah, that movie!” and you watch it and it turns out to be way better than you ever remember, and you still like it. A very low stakes kind of filmmaking is what I am saying. And thus, in that casual loosey-goosey world, you can make a movie that throws in an insane amount of gayness just for fun. And also a bunch of other stuff just for fun.

Image result for main khiladi tu anari poster

Along with the male-male love scenes, this movie has an action scene in an amusement park, a massive fire explosion, a great heroine character for Shilpa Shetty, and a surprisingly good central mystery plot along with a surprisingly good spoof of film industry life. And a great normal central partner couple relationship, along with the SUPER GAY central partner couple relationship.

Love this cheerfully sexy street dance.

This is the rare film that works both with the grain and against it. You can watch it as a normal fun action film, and you can also watch it as a fun in joke about how it looks like the two male leads are in love although that was not the intended meaning. Really, I cannot recommend it enough! The only downsides are grainy 90s film quality, crazy 90s fashion, and ridiculous 90s action. And would we even call those “downsides”?

Oh right, and one weird rape-to-love plot that I think is really seduction-to-love but the subtitles messed up the translation.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

Such a great combination of complicated plots! In the classic Indian film style where the “real” movie doesn’t get going until 20 minutes in, and the actual plot isn’t fully in place until 40 minutes in (which is when our two heroes meet). The first 20 minutes establish Shakti Kapoor as a big bad gangster who is being hunted by a Noble Cop with the assistance of Shakti’s girlfriend/police informer Shilpa Shetty. But then Shilpa Shetty is killed while Noble Cop is trying to protect her, and Noble Cop is killed as well. At which point our actual hero, Noble Cop’s vengeful younger brother Akshay, is finally added to the story. Akshay now has a personal reason to go after Shakti, plus a sad widowed sister-in-law and a bouncy younger sister he has to take care of. He is determined to get Shakti at any cost.

This is all very dramatic and action-y and fun. And then it gets better when we get to know Saif, our second hero! Saif is a movie star who wants to do an action film next. He is being leaned on by his mob connected producer to do another romance. In the middle of their meeting, Akshay shows up to beat up the producer for attempting to rape an actress. Saif is struck by his cool and macho and tracks down Akshay’s boss (a big Saif fan) and asks to shadow Akshay. Akshay hates and avoids him, until he suddenly needs his movie star skills for his mystery. It all comes together like clockwork! There is a street dancer/pickpocket who is identical to the dead Shilpa. Akshay just needs Saif to use his movie star skills to turn this pickpocket into Shilpa. And in return, he reluctantly agrees to letting Saif shadow him.

And then plot on plot! We already have the central Shakti mystery and the Shilpa ploy, plus the comic effect of shallow movie star Saif interacting with tough cop Akshay. And now Akshay goes home to find his little sister mooning over Saif’s picture and decides he is going to force Saif to come to their house and help her get over her crush. Saif moves in to the spare room, and Akshay’s little sister Raageshwari Loomba is more in love than ever. She hears Saif bragging about how he has many many fans including one who carved his name into her wrist with a knife and tries to do the same, landing in the hospital. Saif is shocked, admits he made up the story, and finally understands and appreciates her sweet true love. So now on top of everything else, we have Saif and Raajeshwari trying to figure out how to get Akshay to agree to their romance.

And all of this ties together! The mystery, the friendship, the romances, all part of this great tapestry of related incidents. The romance of Saif and Raageshwari is the most disconnected from the rest (probably why so little time is spent on it), but it is wrenched back to the main storyline by their plot to win Akshay over. Obviously the best way to get him to agree to their relationship is to set him up in a relationship of his own. And who better to use than Shilpa, their witness?

Shilpa’s character is named “Basanti” and she is a throwback to a whole bunch of classic Hema Malini characters. She is loud and confident and brassy, but with a sincere good heart. She was only doing sexy songs on the street and picking pockets in order to support the little street children she had adopted. And of course, she has a crush on Akshay, the attractive noble cop that is helping her. Saif decides to use this crush and convinces her that Akshay wants to be with her too but just needs help. A plot!

Saif convinces Akshay to go out drinking with him and, once he is drunk, Shilpa calls from her witness protection hotel room to say she is afraid. Akshay goes to her place, she is in a nightgown and embraces him in fear, and then he passes out. The next morning he wakes up with no clothes and Shilpa declares he has taken her honor (translated as “rape” but it’s not necessarily the same thing). Akshay talks it over with Saif, he is tormented with guilt and shame, Saif suggests he redeem Shilpa’s honor by marrying her, Akshay said he could only do that if Shilpa truly loved him. Of course, Saif calls up Shilpa and she confesses her love. HAPPINESS!

How great is it that Akshay doesn’t think it is right to marry Shilpa unless she is in love with him?

Okay, both romance plots tied up, mystery in a holding pattern, time to swing back to the center of the film, the friendship! Early in the film, Saif got out of the car and interrupted a complicated shoot out situation. Now, Akshay warns him not to leave the car and gives him a gun, tells him they are talking to a dangerous criminal. Of course, Saif can’t stay away. He sneaks in and shoots someone he thinks is the criminal but in fact is Akshay’s loyal lieutenant. Akshay tells him to leave the country and let Akshay cover it up. But Saif can’t handle the guilt and returns only to overhear Akshay and his leutenant talking and learn it was all fake. FAKE! Akshay and Saif have a big fight, Saif declares he can’t be friends with him any more or think about marrying his sister after this betrayal. Akshay is convinced by his miserable sister to go apologize. He does, and he and Saif embrace and are united again. Just in time for the Big Ending!!!!

Shilpa is under cover with Shakti and is discovered. Shakti holds her hostage in return for the photographic evidence Akshay and Saif got on him. Akshay and Saif show up to save the day and discover that Shakti also managed to capture Raageshwari and Akshay’s sister-in-law. Oh no! Much fighting and dodging and kicking, Akshay is strung up shirtless with water pouring on him while Shakti watches and licks his lips (seriously, SO GAY!), and then the finally defeat the bad guys. Yaaaay! Happy ending, with a little tag of them all going to see Saif’s new movie together and Akshay complaining because Saif is using all his cool lines for his character.

The actual plot is super fun, but for me what I enjoy most are the elements that are just scattered on top for fun. The Saif-Akshay relationship of course, which follows all the beats of a standard love story (magical meeting, hatred turning to love, fight, make-up, happy ending). But also the running jokes about the movie industry.

Maybe because it is officially an action movie, not a movie-about-movies, this film throws in a lot of stuff that isn’t usually shown so openly. For instance, that everyone knows Saif’s producer is mobbed up and he can’t refuse to do a movie for him. This movie came out in 1994, when the official line of the movie industry was still “no mobsters here, no idea what you are talking about”. And there is the woman who comes to Akshay because she was told to come to a producer’s house for a “private session” and he tried to rape her. We’re going through #MeToo now with all these woman telling their stories, here is a movie from 1994 treating it as a given that of course sleazy producers try to rape actresses, and of course there is nothing anyone can do about it (except for Akshay taking things into his own hands and beating the guy up). And there are all the little clever jokes, like Saif asking the bad guy to pause for a moment while he checks himself in the mirror and then say “Action” before he can fight. Heck, even Saif’s introduction, a movie within a movie where he dramatically dies with his true love, followed by Saif-the-character rolling his eyes at how silly this whole movie was.

This is the song from the movie within the movie. So stupid! In a way that feels like it must be on purpose.

Mostly I enjoy the pure 90s of it. The songs are dropped in almost at random, love stories happen in a tight 15 minutes of falling in love at first sight, and then one confirmation confirming it, and the action scenes are surprisingly fun! And completely joyfully unrealistic. I especially like that Shakti Kapoor’s henchmen wear matching suits complete with fedoras. Now that I think about it, the whole movie is both “gay” in that Saif and Akshay are in love, and also “gay” in that it is pure joy.

3 thoughts on “Friday Classics: Main Khiladi Tu Anari, SO GAY!

  1. `
    I wonder how many times the “clueless innocent gets paired with tough cop” trope has been (and still is) used? (I just say a preview for “Stuber” with Kumail Nanjiani).

    `

    Like

  2. One of the “gayest” numbers I’ve ever seen is the title number from “Main Noon Ha.” I know it’s supposed to be an older brother following his newly-discovered younger brother around, but it’s so homoerotic!

    Like

    • I keep watching that song and somehow I just don’t see it. It feels so much more sibling-y to me than lover-y. If I want a gay Shahrukh song, I go more Karan-Arjun.

      On Wed, Jul 3, 2019 at 6:21 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

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