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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014
Women on Top
Gautam Chintamani, Hindustan Times
March 29, 2013
First Published: 17:58 IST(29/3/2013)
Last Updated: 18:00 IST(29/3/2013)
Ajay Devgn in a stil from Himmatwala.

On eve of the release of his remake of the 1980s cult hit Himmatwala (1983) director Sajid Khan mused that one can (re)make Himmatwala (2013) only with a few actors like Ajay Devgn for with others it'll be Himmatwaali. Keeping in mind Khan's body of work that includes a rehashed Three Men and a Baby (Heyy Babyy) and a reimagined Jooru Ka Ghulam (Housefull 1) Khan should have really attempted a Himmatwali rather than 'officially' daring to tamper around with a classic (sic) just because it isn't a Mughl-e-Azam. That actress get shortchanged in Bollywood on every possible account isn't an unknown fact but in an industry where the women are, in fact, braver than the men both on and off screen, Khan should ideally be making Himmatwali rather than inane bold statements.

Besides fond memories of Jeetendra from the original, the filmmaker believes that Himmatwala was the film that transformed Sridevi into a star. In addition to retaining the hero's mustachioed look from the original he has gone to great lengths to rekindle the memories of Sridevi in his leading lady Tamannah. But Khan ceased being bold beyond reproducing the leather-clad-whiplash-holding iconic image of the diva from the original. Honestly if films such as Himmatwala were to be remade then Sajid Khan is the ideal person for the job. Khan grew up on a staple diet of films from the 1980s and like Rohit Shetty, Farah Khan or Abhinav Kashyap, at least in Dabangg, can't help but make throwbacks on such films. In retaining their spirit they have, sadly, not managed to look past the obvious. While films like Himmatwala, the original, appear misogynistic and derogatory towards the women their remakes by Sajid Khan and their ilk outdo the appearance. If the characters so created could not be anything but inorganic then it's hardly surprising that the men who played them across the decades refused to be remotely organic in real life. The on-screen person of men and women thanks to such films reflected in real life as well. The Jeetendras, Dharmendras, or the Shatughan Sinhas couldn't look past playing the hero but a Waheeda Rahman, Hema Malini, Rakhee simply moved on with age refusing to cling on to past glory. And when one talks of off-screen heroism then the real himmatwala in the industry is Priety Zinta who didn't mince her words when testifying against the underworld.

According to Sajid Khan Jeetendra, the original himmatwala, believes that he is the right person to remake the film, as he understands the genre very well. There are only a few like Sajid Khan who not only understand such genres but also what makes the hero a true himmatwala. For him a real hero isn't someone like a Shahrukh Khan who pledges to name the actress' before him in credits. Or someone like Salim-Javed who'd write the most macho characters but never at the cost of the women around them. No, for him a true himmatwala is someone who does the obvious in a manner grander than the previous guy and peppers it with bold statements. He sent the script of Housefull to actors with an attached note that said something like 'Welcome to your career's biggest hit' and has been equally prophetic about Himmatwala too. He is more than certain of the film's Rs. 100 crore plus collection at the box-office and would even refund money if the audience doesn't clap on Devgn's entry in the film. But does Sajid Khan really stand apart from a Rohit Shetty, Farah Khan or David Dhawan who all seem more than capable to reinterpret Himmatwala just like Akshay Kumar or Salman Khan would have made a suitable lead. Sajid Khan feels fortunate that his name is now associated with a film that is one of his top-five favorite Bollywood films. The success of his fourth release would create history but if Sajid Khan really wanted to rewrite history he should have simply made a Himmatwali. It's not like Sajid couldn't do justice to a female version of the film, in fact, he might have made one helluva entertainer but the problem is just that no one made a Himmatwali before for the likes of Sajid Khans to be remade.


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