About the story: Cruel thakur Ajgar Singh (Kiran Kumar) orders his challenger, police inspector Jagdesh Chandar (Dalip Tahil), to be murdered, and thus orphanes the inspector's two little sons. The elder one, Avinash, is adopted by his father’s colleague, while the younger one, Brijesh, called Birju, disappears without trace in the same murderous night: After having stabbed down his father’s murderer, he was abducted by the latter’s two employers. They raise Birju (Sanjay Dutt) and make him, as a thief, earn their livings. Avinash (Jeetendra), on the other hand, follows his father’s footsteps. He becomes a police officer (= thanedaar) and gets shifted to thakur Ajgar Singh’s district. During his train ride there, Avinash meets Birju who just has robbed a jeweller’s shop, supported by his girlfriend Chanda (Madhuri Dixit), and fears to be detected by this police officer. He starts a fight with Avinash and, unintendedly, throws him from the train. When the train stops at the village where Avinash was expected to arrive, people now believe Birju to be the new thanedaar. First Birju enjoys the unexpected conveniences of his new "job", but witnessing the thakur’s crimes, his sense of responsibility awakes, and he decides to challenge the thakur...
Once again, Madhuri and Sanjay met each other in front of the camera, and obviously they got along with each other splendidly. Their harmony even shows in the dance clip "Tamma Tamma Loge" which, at that time, was considered to be Sanjay’s till then best dance performance as he, alongsides with Bollywood’s dance goddess, cut quite an amazing figure – not only because of his physique (who knows how many private dance lessons he had taken with Madhuri... *g*). And I simply love the scene where Madhuri is cross with Sanjay and thrashes him with a broom handle while Sanjay convulses with laughter and, with his claim of being ticklish, drives Madhuri up the wall all the more.
Generally, Sanjay is in his element in Thanedaar, this role is really fun for him and he obviously enjoys that he, for once, can totally turn up the heat. His appearance as wannabe inspector in an open-necked uniform shirt and his mimics in his comical scenes are delightful, and the Samrat folks should be stoned for not providing subtitles to the songs – even if Sanjay’s shaadi-song where he imagines becoming Madhuri’s hen-pecked husband, is funny enough just because of Sanjay’s hilarious performance, but I would have loved to know the nature of the horriblenesses he foresees. With Thanedaar, Sanju surely did surprise many people as they were not at all used to see him in comedy roles. Nevertheless he knows exactly where the handbrake is and when to apply it. E.g. when Birju realizes that his victim during the train ride was his own brother, Sanjay’s emotions are touching as always.
Of course fans of Madhuri’s art of dancing get their money’s worth, too, be it her joyful laddoo-song in the pouring rain, the thanedaar-dance in the village or, as I said, the famous "Tamma Tamma". Even trash fans may be happy as the roles of Kiran Kumar and, partially, Jeetendra provide a lot of it. And two more names are worth mentioning: Jaya Pradha, who as Avinash’s wife is courageous and self-confident enough to not uncontestedly leave the part of the leading dancing lady to Madhuri, and the first assistant director: a certain Sanjay Gupta, who even, according to the Ciné-Blitz 6/1992, took over when Raj Sippy walked out of the film...
All in all, Thanedaar surely is, at the best, an average film, but it is upgraded enormously by Madhuri and Sanjay. For their sake, the film always pays. And for Sanjay fans, "Tamma Tamma" anyway is a sort of duty.
Produced by Sanjay Roy; Directed by Raj Sippy
149 Min.; DVD: Samrat, English Subtitles (not for the songs)