Freitag, 31. August 2007

Vijeta (1996) - Review in English

About the story: Advocate Durga Prasad (Alok Nath) operates his chancellery together with three junior lawyers. One of them is easy-going Ashok (Sanjay Dutt) who mainly feels responsible for the arguements where you have to get a bit rough. Right now, things tend to go wrong for Durga – an important file doesn’t reach him in time so he loses a case in court, and one of his clients, a gouvernment employee (Anant Mahadevan) who innocently has been sacked by corrupt gouvernment officials, is murdered in broad daylight. When Durga nevertheless wants to fight the case to posthumuosly clear his client’s name, he and his wife Laxmi (Reema Lagoo) are massacred in front of the court house. Ashok eye-witnesses the murder and thus now knows that gangster Vidhya Sagar (Paresh Rawal) is behind it. After a futile try to make Sagar accountable in court, Ashok takes matters in his own hands and starts killing Sagar’s henchmen. Police D.I.G. Jagdish Chaudhary (Amrish Puri) soon suspects Ashok to be the killer and instructs police inspector Vijayalaxmi (Raveena Tandon) to keep tabs on Ashok. Though Vijaya and Ashok are in love with each other, Vijaya duteously takes Ashok to task. As a result they start quarreling about the sense of the law and henceforth fight each other; Ashok continues his acts of revenge, Vijaya tries to prevent him from doing so – and both have no idea about who is their real enemy...

The Raj VCD’s cover shows a short-haired, bleeding and heavily armed Sanjay Dutt and thus raises fears that Vijeta might be – similar to Namak which also was dumped on the market in 1996 – a result of long-term shooting and then, after Sanjay’s release in 1995, hasty and sloppy editing; in short, a film full of continuity flaws and without dramaturgic stringency. But it’s the distributors’ secret why this photo was placed on the VCD cover as Sanjay not once in the whole film looks like this. Vijeta rather turns out to be a film obviously shot within quite a short time span – at least if you take Sanju’s hair-style as a rule.

The dramaturgic stringency, however, is another story. Though the plot comes very compact and clear (and without disturbing sub-plots), the sequence of scenes sometimes seems a bit uninspired, and the loads of (not always motivated) flashbacks to Ashok’s and Vijaya’s happiness in love allow at least the presumption that they are stopgaps for scenes which after Sanjay’s imprisonment and release never were shot as the existing material was sufficient for an acceptable movie. But maybe I’m completely wrong with these speculations and the script simply never was more than average from the start.

Anyway, Vijeta is no sensation but always worth a glance – except one acting weakness called Paresh Rawal. This man can play very good villains but why he in Vijeta, spoiled by a wimpy Hitler moustache, had to imitate the Maharani character from Sadak is something probably only he himself and the director do know, especially as he never by a long chalk attains the subliminal dangerousness of Sadashiv Amrapurkar but appears quite ridiculous and therefore cannot be taken seriously as the bad guy.

Otherwise the cast is solid and convincing. Alok Nath and Reema Lagoo unfortunately only have little space to distinguish themselves, but merely their first scene was worth their appearance – the scene where Reema reconciles naughty Sanjay with angry Alok, with Sanjay sporting once again his most delightsome innocent mischief-maker air – when he looks at you like this you simply can’t be angry with him. Then you forgive him anything, even that he absolves this film experienced but sometimes nearly uninspired. No, this does not mean that he acts badly; after all, Vijeta was made in the early 90es when Sanju was in top form in front of the camera and always was convincing, even when he was not completely focused. But in comparison with other films made at the same time as Vijeta, you’ll see the difference: Sanjay is very good, but his performance lacks that special spark with which he upgraded other movies so vitally.

Maybe this time it was partially also his co-star Raveena Tandon’s fault. Though they were once again an optically beautiful couple, Raveena is just too smooth for a police inspector who self-confidently is to bid defiance to Sanjay, she lacks the conciseness of e.g. Anita Raaj who as Sanjay’s opponent would have been quite another Challenge for him. On the other hand, towards the end Raveena for a short time shoulders the sole responsibility as the hero and even shows astounding dogfight abilities (I suppose it was Sanju who taught her some kicks). Even Amrish Puri this time is to be seen in partially unusual situations, e.g. lawn mowing, as percussionist or – dressed as a buccaneer – in the rather crazy clip "Neend Aati Nahin".

As I said, Vijeta is, by the standards of that time, a relatively concentrated and compact production; in Sanjay Dutt’s filmography, however, it is not more than average. Even Sanjay himself obviously was not very much inspired by the plot. But to give him his due, his gesture triggering the showdown once again was simply gorgeous.

Produced by Anil Rathi; Directed by K. Muralimohan Rao
152 Min.; VCD: Raj Video, without subs; slight sound disorders towards the end.
© Diwali

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