Donnerstag, 30. August 2007

Namak (1996) - Review in English

About the story: Pravad Sharma, the little son of the wealthy businessman Lalaji (Shammi Kapoor) and his wife Shanti, called Biji (Nirupa Roy), pals up with the poor boy Gopal. While they are playing, Pravad unintendedly shoots at Gopal, and as he believes to have killed his friend he runs away. But Gopal has survived, and though Lalaji never gets over the loss of his son, he admits Gopal to his family. Gopal (Sanjay Dutt) is deeply devoted to his foster family – to the parents, the sisters Asha and Sunita and to their husbands Suresh and Gullu (Gulshan Grover) even though the latter always causes trouble for him. Even as a union leader in Lalaji’s firm, Gopal regularly has to face problems caused by Gullu. Like Biji’s brother Mamaji (Prem Chopra), even Suresh and Gullu are after Lalaji’s wealth. But when Lalaji passes away and Mamaji, Gullu and Suresh intend to take over command in his household, Biji puts her trust completely in loyal Gopal who, by the way, has given his heart to doctor Anju (Farha Naaz), a young relative of the family. A newspaper report about Lalaji’s death gets into the hands of Pravad (Siddhant Salaria) who has grown up with a foster father (Raza Murad) and a foster brother, Jagdish (Shakti Kapoor). When Pravad by this article learns that he never killed his childhood friend Gopal, he immediately takes the train home. But Jagdish follows him, throws him from the train and presents himself as the prodigual son to Lalaji’s family. To become master of the house, he conspires with Mamaji, Gullu and Suresh against Gopal, and together they kick up a mean intrigue which makes Biji throw Gopal out of the house...

Namak (= salt) suffers heavily from the adverse circumstances of its making. As so often at that time, the production time spanned many years, and rarely the thus lacking continuity affected the result as fatally as here. The figure of Gopal looks like having been played by two different actors, and the problem is not just that Sanjay looks different in various scenes but curiously with the looks even the character changes. The "younger" Gopal is gentle and humble, the "older" Gopal is wild and defiant – it’s like Aman from Saajan and Ballu from Khalnayak alternately had played this role. The final blow for Namak was that it obviously wasn’t completed when Sanjay was imprisoned in 1994, and I suspect that Kawal Sharma at that time lost his interest for Namak and just wanted to make use of the sympathy wave which greeted Sanju when he was released in October 1995. So he quickly got the film edited without shooting the missing (and partially very necessary) scenes and skimped the dubbing (with Chetan Sashital dubbing for Sanjay) – the film’s sound quality is an act of impudence; Shammi sometimes sounds as if he had sent his lines by radio from outer space, and Sanjay without his voice is always only half the fun even though Chetan again did his best...

Fact is that Namak gives the impression of being terribly unfinished. The sequence of scenes is sometimes adventurous, and many moves are in limbo, unmotivated and remain unexplained resp. unsolved. For example: When Gopal saves Lalaji’s life, he gets seriously injured and lies half-dead in hospital – how is it possible that only shortly thereafter he merrily returns home? Why was Anju completely forgotten for about a whole hour? What happened to Pravad’s girlfriend Anita who, like him, was thrown from the train by Jagdish’s buddies? And above all: How died Lalaji?

But I don’t want to badmouth the film completely as it nevertheless has its moments. Seldom Sanjay showed similarly strong emotions as in his scenes with Shammi and Nirupa. And plots about usurpers are always interesting as you can be curious about whether and how their intrigues will be unveiled. Plus, Namak has several villains which partially develop and grow (though unfortunately rather unmotivated). The final, however, is extremely sentimental and syrupy – people who say that the end of Ek Rishtaa is beyond belief supposedly have never seen Namak.

In my opinion, Namak today might just be interesting for die-hard fans of Sanjay Dutt. Shammi’s fans can spare it as Shammi remains pale and exits rather soon. Even Farha’s fans don’t need it as Farha was completely wasted. No, the only reason to dig out Namak is a Sanjay who at times really moves to tears. But even in this regard you can get much better films than Namak which, if I had to decide, should never leave the company of Qurbani Rang Layegi and Johny I Love You in the VCD archivals.

Produced and directed by Kawal Sharma
Ca. 146 Min.; VCD: Indus, without subs; partially extreme sound disturbances during the dialogues
© Diwali

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