About the story: Kanu (Govinda) and Manu (Sanjay Dutt) are rivalling crooks and arch-enemies, since one of them badly betrayed the other (I will not give away who tricked whom, otherwise I’ll spoil the movie’s opening scenes for you). The villain and drug dealer KK (Amrish Puri) and his son Bichu (Gulshan Grover) hire both Kanu and Manu, independently of each other, for a drug smuggling operation. This goes awry, Kanu and Manu are arrested by the police and shackled together. They manage to escape on the way to prison. At first they are constantly at each other’s throats, but they soon realize they have to work together in their situation. Meanwhile, KK and Bichu murder honest police inspector Sinha (Suresh Oberoi), in a way that incriminates Kanu and Manu. But the victim’s widow (Ranjeeta Kaur) knows who the real killers are. With her help, Kanu und Manu (who have become friends by then) decide to fight the drug dealing syndicate...
"The Defiant Ones", Indian version. Of course, the race conflict is missing here, but the initial enmity of the two chained guys is no chickenfeed either. Still, Do Qaidi (= Two Prisoners) is unsatisfactory in some aspects. E.g., women are nothing but accessories, like in many other movies of that time; the two girlfriends of Kanu und Manu (Farha Naaz and Neelam) only serve the purpose to dance prettily with the heros a few times, and finally play a passive role in the climax, being rescued. This is even less understandable, since Farha Naaz’s character showed a lot of promise in her introduction; but instead of making use of that opportunity, the character later sinks into oblivion.
The glorification of gallant inspector Sinha (okay, he deserves it, but this has been blown out of all proportions) and the apotheosis of his wife and children, who start singing their Papa’s favourite "never stop smiling and singing"-song while tortured by KK and his henchmen, only made me shake my head with disbelief. And one subplot becomes wasted, when Manu takes care of the mother of his (at that time) enemy Kanu, after she had an accident. He even gets beaten up by Kanu, after asking him for a truce while he buys medicine for the old woman (without knowing whose mother she is). A side-plot with great promise – but the story never gets mentioned again. Incredible. A movie of missed chances.
Apart from that, Do Qaidi has some hair-raising bloopers. To mention just one: While he is chained to Sanjay, Govinda sometimes wears a jacket, sometimes he does not, and I would love to know how he managed to repeatedly get it off and on (or, how they managed to change the length of their chain several times). I could tolerate all that, but not the very unsatisfactory end, which will have very bitter consequences for some of those present; so bitter, that one can not feel really happy for Kanu and Manu’s lucky (I think it’s okay if I reveal that much, as everyone will expect it anyway) escape. This just can not be right. And as during this depressing last shot the happy "never stop smiling and singing"-song was played again, I was rendered speechless by this cynicism.
Sanjay – oh well, his performance is okay. Sorry, but this time I will not sing a hymn of praise for him. Maybe it is a consequence of him shooting for too many films at once, like he definitely did at that time; in Do Qaidi he appears to be rather slack and lifeless, compared to other movies of the same period. It still has its moments, e.g. the medley of songs from famous films like Jackie Shroff’s debut film Hero (1983), or from Amar Akbar Anthony (but with new lyrics, adapted to Kanu and Manu’s situation: forced to act as friends to escape the police, but never leaving their respective antagonist in doubt about their true feelings); and the perhaps most impressive scene of the shackled jodi: Although still chained to each other, Kanu and Manu save a little boy from falling down a cliff. KK’s men catch up with them and shoot Kanu in the arm. Nevertheless the two manage to save their skins, and find shelter in a temple, where Manu removes the bullet from Kanu’s arm. To be able to see better, he takes a burning candle in his hand and is hurt by the molten wax. As soon as he got finally rid of the bullet, Kanu clasps Manu’s hand, and extinguishes the painful candle – the beginning of a beautiful friendship... ;)
Like the film Taaqatwar, which was produced in the same period (and Andolan, which was made a few years later), for me, Do Qaidi refutes the view that Sanjay and Govinda were nothing but a 'buddy-jodi'. Together, they performed in more dramas than comedies. The fact that they harmonized so well in their later comedies, may be caused by the experience they gained in these early films with each other; but even in these first co-operations they complemented each other very well, so it’s understandable why they were often cast together. Besides, Govinda had just begun his career at that time (Sanjay had already been around for some years), and had not yet been labeled as a comedian, but also played serious characters; and he did well in those roles, as proven in Do Qaidi.
Produced by Pushpa S. Choudhary; Directed by Ajay Kashyap
152 Min.; DVD: Madhu, English Subtitles (including Songs), sadly with some annoying mistakes (e.g. where they put the words in Sanjay’s mouth that he wants to let the villains escape, when in fact he means the opposite).
© Diwali; Translated by Anamika