About the story: Policeman Vikram Shukla (Anupam Kher) accuses a seemingly honorable citizen named Dharamdas of child abuse. False testimonies, however, make Vikram himself go to jail instead of the real culprit. When his wife (Rohini Hattangadi) wants to plead with Dharamdas for her husband, she catches him red-handed abusing another girl and for this is killed by Dharamdas. Many years later, a tip about Dharamdas’s whereabouts leads Shukla’s sons Ajay (Sunny Deol) and Vijay (Sanjay Dutt) to Bombay where they join the gang of Avasthi (Paresh Rawal) and fight the latter’s rival Kumar. In order to split up the successful pair of brothers, Kumar arranges for Ajay being jailed for alleged murder. In prison, Ajay demands Vijay’s oath to never again visit him and instead to continue searching for Dharamdas by all means, even criminal ones, if necessary. A drastic experience in jail, however, makes Ajay seeing reason, and his henceforth exceptionally good conduct subsequently permits him to undergo police training. As policeman in uniform he finally goes to see Vijay – who meanwhile has deprived Kumar of his power and taken over his position as the don of Kumar’s syndicate. His heart having turned stone-cold, Vijay cannot accept that Ajay, who by that oath in prison had driven him into criminality, now as an honorable and law-abiding man wants to get him back on the straight and narrow. He rejects Ajay, and the brothers become opponents, while in the background their real enemy pulls the strings: Dharamdas...
Kroadh is certainly not Sanjay’s best film, but probably the first one where Sanjay becomes a don, and thus it’s at least a noteworth milestone in the career of an actor who later was to become famous for his don roles in Hindi films. Too bad it takes quite a good while for Vijay’s don transformation, as for a long time hardly anything happens at all, except that Jagdeep unnerves as ineffable comic relief uncle (who, mercifully, soon quietly disappears). But all of a sudden, after about an hour, the film becomes a grenade thanks to a one-man-show performed by Sanjay who, especially in the second half, easily outplays Sunny even though this is probably the best performance of Sunny I’ve seen so far.
Nevertheless he has only little chances against a gorgeously acting Sanjay. Especially in the emotional scenes they share together the differences become evident, e.g. at their foster sister Selma’s (Pallavi Joshi) wedding: While Sanjay openly yields to his sadness about having to bid his sister good-bye, Sunny appears close to blank. And even his break-down in prison, while fearing for the life of the man he almost killed, cannot match Sanjay’s outburst of desperation in front of his jailed brother. As don finally, Sanjay rays out a pitiless coldness, sometimes in combination with a satanic smile, and at the same time is extremely vulnerable. This shows as soon as people are concerned who stand close to Vijay, which includes his girlfriend Sonu (Sonam) whose fate really touches. But, all in all, Sonam is as underemployed as Sunny’s partner Amrita Singh who, as Matki, for once does not play the woman of style but the naive fairy-maid from the country.
My résumé: Thanks to an excellent Sanjay and a very good Sunny, Kroadh is worth a recommendation. And when revisiting the film, just skip over the first hour, and be it just for avoiding that stupid uncle.
Produced by Pappu Verma; Directed by Shashilal Nair
144 Min.; DVD: Samrat, English Subtitles (including songs); the DVD’s image quality falls beyond the pale.
P.S. After 2002, Sanjay several times shot together with Amitabh Bachchan, and everytime they shared a great chemistry. However (excluding Reshma Aur Shera where little Sanju just acted in a Qawwali and shared no screentime with young Amitabh), the first time they came together was in Kroadh where Amitabh in a short appearance makes a performance as himself at a commemoration event for late playback singer Mohammad Rafi, while young Sanjay Dutt sits in the auditorium, admiringly watching Amitabh. Wonder whether he presaged that one day he was to become an absolutely equal partner for this legend...