I could talk about Mahesh Bhatt, or Sanjay Dutt, or Sridevi of course. Or the Hong Kong setting or the crazy plot twists. But for the small community of DCIB, and the even smaller sub-section of DCIB that would be interested in an average film of the mid-90s, I feel that BOB CHRISTO SEX SCENE is what is most likely to get you excited.
It’s a Bhatt film, so of course I need to start with the “inspiration” for the film. This time, an Australian miniseries? That’s kind of random, isn’t it? But it makes sense watching the movie, there are way too many plot twists and things, it would work a lot better as a mini-series. Or, if Bhatt had been able to be a bit ruthless and cut down the time for at least one plot point. On the other hand, if this were a logical simple plot film, it wouldn’t be nearly as memorable or enjoyable. The kind of “everything and the kitchen sink” plotting gives it a zing that would be missing if it had sense instead. Plus, we wouldn’t have a Bob Christo sex scene, and the world would be so much poorer for that.
Anyhoodle, fun movie! The kind of movie where you cover 20 years and a dozen plot twists in the first 5 minutes, then settle in for a long slow slog of songs and “humor”, before suddenly clicking into gear again for another series of random fast moving pieces. Don’t look away for a second, you will miss another sudden plot change. Or a super fun mini-scene. Or, and this happened to me a lot, you will think you missed a scene but actually didn’t.
This is a movie that refers to a bank robbery, a star making singing performance, and bribery of a police officer, without actually SHOWING us any of that! My best guess is that the reasons were financial rather than artistic, that is, Mahesh ran out of money before he could film them so they decided it would just be okay instead to give is the two slices of bread of the sandwich without the filling, a scene that says “okay, now we are going to do ____” followed immediately by a scene that says “now that we have successfully done ___, what’s next?”
There’s those obvious skips, but also other less obvious skips. The romance, for instance, is terribly underserved. It should be this really cool progression from total opposites to devoted lovers, but we sort of fast forward through a lot of it. Also, Reema Lagoo (playing a mother, shocking!) has a pretty confusing character arc that I never quite followed. Anupam Kher (playing a father, double shock!) is similarly rushed and confused. It’s just too much plot and too much movie to be contained with what we were given. And yet everything that is there is so wonderful, I can’t stand to think of removing it.
So yes, mini-series would be the way to go! Keep everything and just add on a lot more on top.
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We open with Sridevi’s backstory, raised by her grandmother and a single mother and never knowing her father. Her mother (Reema, of course), is dying of cancer and asks her old friend to distract Sridevi and get her away. Her old friend offers to take Sridevi to Bombay and help her get a singing career. In Bombay, he introduces her to charming importer-exporter Rahul Roy. Rahul gets her a singing contract and soon she is on a world tour. Her biggest fan, Sanjay Dutt, follows her on that tour by selling black market tickets to her shows. Eventually he tracks her down to a hotel and proposes, Sridevi is shocked since she is so lowclass and beneath her, and also she is falling for Rahul Roy. Sanjay robs a bank to make the money to keep her well, but then is arrested in India. And then Reema dies, revealing as she dies that Sridevi’s father Anupam Kher was wrongfully accused of treason and fled the country but has family in Mauritius. Sridevi travels to Mauritius and meets up with Rahul Roy who helps her find Anupam’s brother and the brother has a phone number in Hong Kong. Sridevi goes to Hong Kong next, Sanjay sees she is traveling in the news and escapes from jail and then to Hong Kong where he coincidentally gets a job working for Anupam Kher. Sridevi is arrested shortly after arriving when the police lead by Tom Alter find drugs in her bags, Rahul was using her to smuggle his drugs. Sridevi is thrown in jail and the only person who comes to visit her is her fan/stalker Sanjay. He promises to get her a lawyer and asks Anupam, who agrees to help without revealing he is her father. They bribe Tom Alter to get her out on bail, Sridevi and Sanjay are now in love, but then she is arrested again and sentenced to death. Her best friend in prison, Soni Razdan, is killed, and Sanjay decides their only hope is a jail break. He gets himself arrested as well, sneaks from his cell to her cell, but is caught by Bob Christo the jailer who tortures him. Next night, Sridevi uses the skills she learned from Soni to sneak Sanjay out. Bob Christo tries to stop them, Sanjay kills him, they escape and meet Anupam at the airport. At the airport, Anupam finally acknowledges her as his daughter. HAPPY ENDING.
See what I mean about it being all over the place? There’s three major plots shuffling for space. In one, Sridevi is wrongfully arrested after being trapped with drugs, has a whole Woman in Prison section, and then bravely escapes. In another, Anupam is wrongfully banished from his country and wife and child, then reunited with her just when she needs him most and yet unable to admit their connection. In a third, Sridevi is a rich woman turned pop star who dismisses her loyal fan until her life falls apart and she has no other choice but to rely on him and then comes to love him.
The thing is, I love all these plots!!!! The Woman in Prison section is amazing, Sridevi and Soni play off each other fabulously, and we get little touches like when the firing squad shoots Soni, we cut into the cell to see all the women (including the dialogue-less extras) kneeling and praying for her. Plus, Bob Christo and the corrupt female guard having sex, that’s worth the price of admission right there. And the build of seeing fancy sheltered innocent Sridevi turn into dirty make-up-less prisoner Sridevi going through garbage shoots and sewage tunnels as she is worn down to the basic level.
And then there’s the Anupam-Sridevi plot, so much angst there, Anupam doing everything he can to save Sridevi while not feeling he has the right to be her father, Sridevi constantly saying she wants her father and Anupam not admitting who he is. Building up the reveal, when the police stop Sridevi at the airport to ask why she was in the country, of Anupam saying “to visit me, her father”. Dun dun dun!
Finally, the Sanjay-Sridevi romance. Which gets very short shrift in the film, but had so much potential! It starts out with the audience sympathizing with both of them and kind of wishing Sanjay would just move on and be happy elsewhere. He’s a nice harmless guy who is enthusiastic in his fandom, likes to give Sridevi presents and sing to her and dreams of marrying her. And Sridevi is a nice young woman who wants to marry someone of her class with whom she has things in common and is trying to dissuade Sanjay for both their sakes. Once Sanjay is arrested and Sridevi goes off on her father-quest, they seem to have hit a nice patch of separation. Until she is arrested and suddenly Sanjay is the only one who shows up for her at the lowest point of her life, going above and beyond to save her anyway he can. That’s a love story! The love that seems impossible which proves to be more true than any “logical” love would. The faithful hopeful stalker/fan who lets himself be beaten and abused and everything to save his love, and the popstar who is reduced to the lowest point and comes to feel there is no real difference between her and her “lowerclass” stalker. But instead of getting that full love story, we just get the odd miss-communication at the beginning, a couple of scenes before she is out on bail, and then POOF! As soon as she is out on bail, she is fully in love with Sanjay. We are cheated out of the nice slow build. Oh well.
So yes, as a whole, the movie is flawed. But the individual moments are just so fun! It’s one of those movies that I kept waiting for a slow bit so I could get a snack, and there were no slow bits. Fun wacky fight scenes, crazy drama, songs heavily inspired by the MGM classic song book, nothing to be missed. If you are the particular person who likest his particular kind of film, you will really really like this film.