Samstag, 1. September 2007

Mahaanta (1997) - Review in English

About the story: Raj Malhotra (Mohsin Khan) and Vijay Kapoor (Jeetendra) have been close friends since early childhood. After a long separation, both come to Bombay for professional reasons – Vijay as police commissioner and Raj as manager for mighty and reputable "Sea King" Seth Kedarnath (Amrish Puri) who, however, gets in the police’s sights because of dark deeds. Together with Vijay, even a new police inspector arrives in Kedarnath’s district; it is Raj’s younger brother Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) who falls in love with beautiful Jenny Pinto (Madhuri Dixit). Unfortunately even Kedarnath’s son Mahesh (Tej Sapru) casts an eye at Jenny. By threatening to kill Sanju and his family, Kedarnath forces Jenny to accept a marriage with Mahesh, but in front of all the wedding guests Sanju snatches Jenny from under Mahesh’s nose and instantly marries her himself. To the dismay of his family, Sanju, however, is arrested during his wedding night by Vijay, accused of abduction and forceful wedding of an other man’s bride. While Raj’s wife Shanti (Poonam Dhillon) goes to Kedarnath to plead for mercy for Sanju, Vijay explains to furious Raj the true reason for Sanju’s arrest: He had come to know that Kedarnath had sent a killer (Paresh Rawal) to murder Sanju; by arresting Sanju, Vijay had given him police protection. But no one can avert the cruel and deadly consequences of this step...

In Mahaanta, above all those Sanjay fans get their money’s worth who prefer to watch Sanjay in action – sparkling vengeance, fighting, bathed in sweat and blood, and so intense that he makes your blood freeze. Of course he also performs some great dances (especially his repeating vendetta ritual dance "Tapka Re Tapka"), of course he may, up till now for the last time in his career, once more fall in love with Madhuri (and sometimes treat her very badly without apologizing which costs his film character some sympathy bonus points), and of course not only Sanjay but even Madhuri (who at least got a little more to do than e.g. in Kanoon Apna Apna) extendedly swings the hips while dancing. But first of all, Mahaanta is a vendetta movie focusing on the conflict between Sanju and Kedarnath, on Kedarnath’s attacks against Sanju and Sanju’s family, and on Sanju’s vengeance. And as such it’s surely worth a watch, especially for Sanjay fans who might regard Mahaanta as a documentary. Why?

Mahaanta belongs to the movies which have been shot completely or at least partially before Sanjay’s term in jail as an under trial and which have been completed and released only after Sanjay’s release on bail. With Mahaanta, released in 1997, this is clearly to be observed; sometimes it looks very patched up, and above all, you can precisely differ the scenes shot before 1994 and the scenes shot in 1996. Mostly, Sanjay sports his look of the early 90es, and the difference to the few scenes shot after his jail term is appalling as Sanjay has aged visibly and his glance has become sad and empty. Thus Mahaanta shows in a terrifying way the cut the events from 1993 and the long months in prison had meant for Sanjay’s life. Though we got used to Sanjay’s changing looks in his films during the 90es when he usually made many films at the same time and it took several years to complete them – but this case is gravely different. While Sanjay in Mahaanta mostly presents himself in the splendid top form he had been in before his arrest, he here and there (partially even midway through a scene, e.g. at his first jealousy rage with Madhuri) appears completely changed, aged and with pain in his eyes which made me cry with sympathy and even with irateness with those who did that to him. Mahaanta gives us an impression of how the sixteen months in prison and the terrible charges against him had affected Sanju in those years.

Produced by Ayub Khan; Directed by Afzal Khan
174 Min.; DVD: Shemaroo, English Subtitles (including songs)
© Diwali

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