About the story: Professor Vidyashankar Pandey (Shivaji Satham) together with his wife and his little son Surya settles in a Mumbai district controlled by hoodlum Raja (Sanjay Dutt). Raja may turn very nasty when someone causes him trouble, but basically he is a good-hearted guy. Little Surya hero-worships Raja and wishes to follow in the footsteps of him. When one day he does an invaluable favour to Raja, the latter strikes up a friendship with the boy and henceforth loves him like a younger brother. The professor is very upset about this friendship and accuses Raja of wanting to make his son the same good-for-nothing as Raja himself – while Raja, on the contrary, struggles to keep Surya away from his world of crime. When Surya (Inder Kumar) is grown up and falls in love, Raja helps him to win his beloved’s heart. But when Surya presents his ladylove to him, Raja is dumbstruck as it is Kiran (Tina Sen), the sister of his unscrupulous boss Vikram (Aditya Pancholi) who long ago has finalized her liaison with another man and now openly threatens to kill Surya if the latter keeps dating Kiran. Now Raja finds himself completely between all fronts...
"This is a mean world – no one cares for anyone" is a motto of Raja which he himself permanently disproves by caring lovingly for his chosen brother Surya and even always paying all due respects to Surya’s father. So it’s all the more bitter that the father wilfully clings to his cut and dried opinions and much too long remains blind for Raja’s human qualities. Shivaji Satham, who with Sanjay had formed a great father-son jodi in Vaastav, is cut out for such roles, and this time too the tension between him is Sanjay is sometimes nearly visible. Inder Kumar is finally another really good "younger brother" for Sanjay (who in this category, as you might remember, often had to deal with rather talent-free slowpokes). He acts with likeable abandon and passion, and it’s more than a pity that he wasn’t granted a better partner than Tina Sen who looks like his aunt who has raided her teenage daughter’s wardrobe. (Obviously it remained Tina Sen’s only appearance in front of a camera – in any case you wish it was.) Aditya Pancholi, like Shivaji very familiar with Sanjay after Aatish, cannot quite link to his achievements in those movie; as the unscrupulous gangster boss he several times reaches the borders of his acting skills and has to pay attention not to be unintendedly overrun by Sanjay who during the film escalates to breathtaking top form.
For in Baaghi, Sanjay once again displays a power which bowls you over. I love Sanju playing "gangsters with heart", and Raja in Baaghi is probably the best and most moving example for this role type. Though he’s a gangster, though he knows to utilise his dogfight qualities as well as the gun, Raja is the guy you sympathize with from the very first moment on. He provides positive qualities as a brother (Surya) as well as a son (Professor Pandey), and you very early get a suspicion that there must have been a crucial and defining event in his past. And when you in the film’s other half finally get to know the identity of the woman whose photo Raja always carries with him and learn the story of this Rani (Manisha Koirala) and how Raja did become the hoodlum and killer for which society now punishes him with despise, then you just want to cry with compassion and helpless fury.
Baaghi is a powerful movie, and Sanjay’s concentrated passion and emotional power once again sweep you off your feet. My God, all these feelings Sanju can express alone with his eyes! Baaghi is definitely a must-see, not just for Sanjay’s fans.
Produced by Ramesh Sharma; Directed by Rajesh Kumaar Singh
162 Min.; DVD: Bollywood Entertainment, English Subtitles (including songs)