About the story: Mahendra Ashwini Kumar (Mukesh Khanna) and Raj Pratab Singhaal (Kabir Bedi) have been childhood friends, but then they went separate ways: Mahendra, like his sons Brajesh and Rajesh (Feroz Khan), belongs with heart and soul to the police corps while Singhaal is supremo of a criminal syndicate. Brajesh gets murdered while on duty and leaves his wife Kaushalya (Neena Gupta) and his daughter Meghna (Manisha Koirala) in Mahendra’s care. Hot-headed Rajesh holds Singhaal responsible for Brajesh’s murder, but he has no evidence against him. Singhaal, on the other hand, anticipates a calamity when Mahendra is appointed Police Commissioner in his district. His son Vishal (Sanjay Dutt), desiring to get his father’s love and appreciation which Singhaal always denies to him, tries in vain to prevent Mahendra from assuming his office. When Mahendra finally finds evidence for Singhaal’s crimes and gets him arrested, Vishal hires a killer who murders Mahendra. Now furiously chased by Rajesh, Singhaal (who was able to leave prison by corruption) leaves the country and takes his family to Dubai: his wife Bharati (Maya Alagh), his younger son Vicky (Vicky Arora) and Vishal with his wife Anu (Nagma). As a pledge for his security, Singhaal even abducts Rajesh’s niece Meghna, who only now learns that nice Vicky she has fallen in love with is a criminal’s son...
Yalgaar is definitely a must-see. It takes more than three hours, but it is worth every minute, for the story is powerful and convincing told right up to the gorgious showdown and final. Feroz Khan, who not only produced and directed the film but also played hot-headed Rajesh himself, could count on a cast in top form. Mukesh Khanna and Kabir Bedi spare neither each other nor their film sons in their controversies, whereas Mukesh’s scenes with Feroz are by far exceeded by what Kabir and Sanjay conjure on screen – Kabir as the strict father who gives all his love to his younger son and always just blames and reproaches his elder son, and Sanjay as the elder son who longs for his father’s love and appreciation and helplessly has to watch how all this goes to his younger brother while he himself never manages to please his father and all steps he takes usually go wrong. Adorable Manisha Koirala delivers a terrific performance though this is just her third film, even Nagma is wonderful; I only want to cast a veil of silence over Vicky Arora, a newcomer who immediately after Yalgaar mercifully disappeared in the slot of oblivion again.
But I want to make another remark about Sanjay as this page belongs to him. In my opinion it is significant that the man who today primarily is known as a specialist for macho and gangster roles, even shone in loser roles when he was on the peak of his action career. Though Sanju had everything it took for shining winner roles: He was well-conditioned and as fit as a fiddle, and by the way, he rarely exposed his physique in all its state and puma beauty as much as in Yalgaar. But it’s just that in this strong body there is also a tremendously emotional and vulnerable human being. And this is what makes Sanju so special, even in his more tough roles – because he makes them so human. It is incredible what this man can express solely with his eyes; in Yalgaar too he makes Vishal’s complete mental disaster visible in them. The only glimmer of light in Vishal’s life is his marriage with Anu; an initial crisis is mended half-way through the film (especially in a beautiful dance scene of Sanjay and Nagma in pouring rain, ending in the pool with a long kiss), and the scene where Sanjay comes to know that he’s going to be a father and starts a conversation, overflowing with love, with his unborn baby in his wife’s womb, is one of the film’s most lovely and touching scenes.
No matter how dismissively many contemporaries judged this film, in my opinion Yalgaar is one of Sanjay’s best and most convincing performances in his puma years. (The word "puma years", I admit, is my own creation, derived from photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha’s quote from 1997, "Sanju with his long mane and puma gait attracted people like a magnet. His boyish charm and disarming vulnerability make him well-loved in the industry." Since that, I call the years between 1991 and 1995 Sanju’s "puma years" – for who wants to contradict that he in those years was a downright beautiful puma...)
Produced and directed by Feroz Khan
192 Min.; DVD: Eros, English Subtitles (not for the songs); embarrassing: After chapter 20 the film is interrupted for a long B4U ad, and you can only return to the film by activating the menu, searching the chapters and directly clicking on chapter 21.