This is a perfectly pleasant lessor Subhash Ghai movie which also happens to have Shahrukh in an early role. But really it’s more of a Ghai film than an SRK film, only watch if you like Ghai.
Ghai likes symbolism, coincidences, over the top visuals, and large casts. This kind of fights with Shahrukh’s natural style in a way I find interesting. You put Shahrukh’s naturalistic acting and deep character work in Ghai’s highly stylized plots and visuals, and the tension between the two styles sets the screen on fire. It’s way more obvious in their other film together, Pardes, this movie was back when Shahrukh was starting out so he wasn’t the lead and didn’t have that kind of odd energy at the center of the film, but this movie is still interesting. Plus, it’s just a solid Ghai movie in general, great visuals, complicated plot, and super fun big cast of characters.
What’s really fun is seeing Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, and Shahrukh all in the same movie! Jackie and Anil are long term Ghai actors and he knows exactly what he wants to do with them, and they know he knows. Jackie plays the noble experienced wise older one who still has that hint of sexy naughtiness buried deep. Anil plays the boyish almost childish one who is tempted by badness but coms around in the end. And then there’s Shahrukh, who doesn’t really have a place in this threesome. He’s just the thing Jackie and Anil fight over, little personality of his own. But great chemistry! Shahrukh and Jackie, Shahrukh and Anil, both twosomes are awesome, and then when they come together into Jackie-Anil-Shahrukh, it is just a delight.
But I don’t want to oversell this movie. It has a really needlessly long and elaborate plot, and you find yourself distracted and kind of bored during scenes that should not be boring (Amrish Puri as an evil priest, for instance). But it’s worth watching if you want to see all the Ghai movies, or all the Shahrukh movies, or all the Jackie-Anil movies. Why haven’t they co-starred together again lately? They are so great together!
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
Ready for a complicated plot? In The Past, brave police woman Priya Tendulkar is told that evil Amrish Puri has taken over the Kali shrine for his own private worship. She brings her husband the three sons with her to re-open the temple, yaaaaay! Of course, Amrish gets angry at this, kills her husband and frames her for the murder. The three sons are left to be raised by their uncle who is a bit of a weakling. The two oldest sons (lil’ Jackie and lil’ Anil) fight over the baby (little bitty SRK) because they both love him so much. Anil stills milk and toys for the baby, Jackie yells at him for teaching the baby bad values, lil’ Anil ends up running away from home. Years later, Jackie is a noble police officer and stern older brother to Shahrukh. Shahrukh is passionately in love Anjali Jathar but doesn’t have enough money to marry her. Jackie preaches patience, so Shahrukh runs away looking for quick money and ends up working for a gangster, eventually finding his way to Anil who recognizes him as his little brother. Anil does not reveal himself to Shahrukh as his brother, but mentors him and helps him get everything he wants. Jackie finds out Shahrukh is part of a gang now and confronts his boss, recognizing Anil. All three brothers are now fighting, Anil and Jackie over Shahrukh again, and Shahrukh with both of them because he still doesn’t think they are doing enough to get him married. At which point, Priya Tendulkar is finally released from prison and hears from her ineffective brother that her boys are all fighting. Also, at the same time, Anil and Shahrukh are given the job of kidnapping Priya and bringing her to Amrish to be killed. Luckily, the truth comes out and they learn they are all related and Priya is their mother, the “trimurti” comes together and defends her and she ends up killing Amrish Puri with the support of her sons. HAPPY ENDINGS.
The “good” and “bad” brother has been around for ages in Hindi film, Jackie and Anil played it in Ram-Lakhan just a few years earlier and Ghai is clearly trying to recreate that success. Sometimes we get a third brother, a sort of sweet cute odd man out option, like adorable Shashi in Waqt who just wants to get married. But the idea of having the two older brothers each separately recognize the youngest brother and pull him between them good-bad, that’s kind of cool and original. Especially seeing the “bad” brother in charge of him for a bit. Anil has a fine line to play here, he has to be a loving older brother while still being immature.
Part of that is Shahrukh being even more immature than Anil, but it’s also Anil managing to play a “fun” big brother. Which, come to think of it, was a bit of a preview of his “fun” father. He has such zest for life and just wants to share it, none of that boring rules and advice that Jackie gave out. Childish Shahrukh with Jackie felt like a 60 year old talking to a 6 year old, Anil and Shahrukh feels more like a 25 year old and 18 year old, the characters they are actually playing.
Also of course great that they are positioned as being the servants of their mother. Their father is kind of negligible plot-wise, and their uncle even worse. What makes them special is their mother’s awesome genetics, and also her powerful prayers in prison. It’s a brother movie that is all about the mother controlling her boys, excellent.
And Amrish Puri is an evil villain who hates them because he wants to worship Kali all by himself, which leads to awesome visuals and is just a weird interesting choice of motive. And Shahrukh puts the whole new plot in motion because he falls in love and wants to get married, which is also an interesting choice of motive and leads to a fun song.
But somehow, overall, slightly dull. Somehow doesn’t fully work. Maybe because the plot isn’t as connected as it seems? We have Amrish and Priya, and then that gets forgotten for hours as we go and play around with Jackie and Shahrukh and Anil, and then that gets resolved in minutes just in time to swing back to Amrish and Priya. Kind of doesn’t gel somehow.