About the story: Truck driver Balwant (Dharmendra) leads a happy life, which is shattered abruptly when unscrupulous smugglers (Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Paresh Rawal) murder his beloved brother, put the blame on him and burn his house, killing his pregnant wife as well. Because the police openly collaborates with the killers, Balwant can not hope for justice. He flees from jail and massacres the murderers’ gang. Since that time, he appears in black costume and mask as "Substitute Court" whenever criminals avoid punishment by bribes and corruption, to execute them in the name of true justice. Since he killed many people, the police searched for him many years, but in vain. Still, he never got his brother’s murderers. One day, the precious jewels of Sadashiv’s daughter Kavita (Madhuri Dixit) spark the interest of Rajesh (Sanjay Dutt), who makes money as a thief; if only to save enough to pay for his sick mother’s treatment - which ultimately wins him Kavita’s heart. When Rajesh sets out to rob rich diamond thief Jwala, he meets both "Substitute Court", who wants to settle old scores with Jwala, and law-abiding Mahesh (Chunky Pandey). These encounters will change Rajesh’s life more than he can guess...
One single silly element can ruin an otherwise promising, maybe even a good film. This is such a case. Even though I was deeply moved by Balwant’s story, and that of his family – but every time when Dharmendra appears as masked Justice-Superman-Zorro figure with streaming cape and automatic gun, my mood is ruined because I merely ask myself if I should laugh or cry about it. Mostly I tend towards the latter, because it’s simply painful to watch Dharmendra, whom I hold in high regard, in this embarassing attire. Furthermore, the "Substitute Court" proceeds in a morally very dubious way: He presents himself as provider of justice, but any evidence is irrelevant for him. Thus, in the justification of his arbitrary law, he ranks himself equal to God. Others may accept that, but I can’t, even if this attitude is personified by a merited hero like Dharmendra.
Sanjay and Madhuri are hardly challenged in this movie, same as the second young couple, Neelam und Chunky Pandey. The plot’s dramatic potential gets wasted much too fast and without effect, so that the young characters never get a chance to develop a profile. Fans of Madhuri will melt anyway, since she radiates such loveliness as jewel-adorned beauty, that some camera lenses might have been cracked by her shine; but anyway she has little to do. Sanjay is the likeable young hero and plays his role with feeling – a solid performance, nothing less, but nothing more, either.
I can’t fully recommend Khatron Ke Khiladi in spite of some promising elements and a few good moments. But there is too much trash. Too many implausibilities, too (all through the movie, Chunky and Sanjay effortlessly win their fights with hordes of enemies, but then together they fail to manage Dharmendra?). And, as I said, this abysmal second-rate Zorro with his machine gun.
(One scene from the movie should later prove to be close to real life: When Kavita compliments Rajesh after their first song for his dancing style, he denies it: He were not a good dancer, but she – God would have given her such charisma, she could make even statues dance at her touch. How true – after this first film with Madhuri, Sanjay’s dancing abilities improved rapidly during the following years...)
Produced by V.B. Rajendra Prasad; Directed by T. Rama Rao
156 Min.; DVD: GVI, English Subtitles (including songs)
© Diwali; Translated by Anamika