About the story: A band of criminals on the run, led by Cheetah (Gulshan Grover), kill the father of Geeta (Anita Raaj) and try to rape her, from what she only narrowly escapes. Determined to avenge these crimes herself, Geeta identifies none of the culprits in the rogues’ gallery at the police station and instead from now on exercises shooting where she gets help from a young man called Amar (Sanjay Dutt). It takes some time until Geeta learns from a newspaper article that Amar is a police inspector. They fall in love and get married. But shortly afterwards, Amar dies in a shootout with Cheetah and his dacoits. Now Geeta becomes a police inspector herself but soon is suspended from office because of her hard and ruthless methods against criminals. So she continues her crusade on her own – and gets unexpected help from the auto-rickshaw driver Laxman (Sanjay Dutt) who is a spitting image of her late husband and as fearless and audacious as him...
Jaan Ki Baazi was the first movie for which Sanjay took up shooting after his drug therapy, and for me it ranks among the "transit films" between his early (drug) years and his first heyday after Naam. In one point, the story resembles Mera Haque which was to be released one year later: Even here, Sanjay is to be seen in two different characters, one of them a nice young hero (without moustache) and the other one a likewise nice insubordinate layabout (with moustache); maybe he shot the particular scenes from both films at the same time each. And like in Mera Haque, his co-star was Anita Raaj who probably never appeared tougher and more self-confident as in Jaan Ki Baazi where she not even shys back from a dogfight with chief villain Gulshan Grover (who once again is really diabolically mean). What a pity that this talented actress disappeared from the silver screen in the mid-1990’s.
One thing you could never accuse Sanjay of in Jaan Ki Baazi is lack of assignment. In fact, he is bursting with energy, jumps from tower blocks, wafts through the air (hanging on a crane hook), does wild action scenes and some really temperamental clips with his co-stars Anita Raaj and Anuradha Patel. As Amar, he eradiates a touching enjoyment of life, and then as Laxman he really turns up the heat – you feel his fun and joy about finally escaping the loverboy drawer of his newcomer years and, at the same time, prove all those wrong who'd already written him off (Jaan Ki Baazi was Sanjay's first film after his successful drug rehab). He performs amazing ball tricks, catches a burning matchstick, does an extensive booze scene with Anuradha Patel (who is a bundle of temperament as Sundari) and drives his rickshaw on back wheels right into the dacoit gang. And even the emotions don’t miss out on something – when Laxman visits Amar’s mother in hospital and thus returns some vital energy to her, this is as touching as shortly before that Geeta’s desperate pleading for this favour (which Laxman there flatly had rejected).
Unfortunately, you have to accept some comic reliefs which are so typical for Hindi films; who knows, maybe editor David Dhawan has learnt here how to make loud and annoying slapstick comedy. Apart from that, Jaan Ki Baazi with an outstanding Sanjay and a not the less impressive Anita anyway is worth a watch – in spite of a few scenes as disturbing (Geeta’s stone-cold liquidation of villains while on duty as police inspector) as incredible (Laxman smoking in the hospital while donating blood – is that really permitted in India?). Moreover, it's a documentary for Sanju's fans welcoming him back to (film) life after his drug phase.
Produced by B.P. Verma; Directed by Ajay Kashyap
129 Min.; DVD: Shemaroo, English Subtitles (including songs); however, it's very annoying that the clip with Laxman and Sudheri drunk and dancing in the rain is missing on the DVD. If you want to see it, get yourself Shemaroo's VCD.