Direction: Sajid Khan
Actors: Ajay Devgn, Mahesh Manjrekar, Paresh Rawal
More than anything, Himmatwala is a reminder of why the ’80s are considered the worst decade in Hindi cinema. The film is an excruciating experience. It begins with a close-up of a disco ball, and it’s downhill from there.
I have very little memory of the original 1983 blockbuster, but this remake is so painful that I longed for Sridevi, Jeetendra and his trademark white shoes.
Director and co-writer Sajid Khan isn’t spoofing the ’80s. He’s celebrating and recreating the decade. So we have the coughing mother, the sister who almost gets raped, the shrewish heroine who is inevitably tamed, and a despotic villain named Sher Singh, who is the sarpanch of a village called Ramnagar.
The villagers live in quiet desperation, until the Himmatwala, Ravi (played by Ajay Devgn), shows up. Of course, in keeping with another ’80s tradition, the word Himmatwala is repeated every half hour.
Himmatwala is loud, puerile and so unfunny that it hurts. Sajid and his dialogue writers, Farhad-Sajid, cheerfully give us lines like ‘Usse itna rula de ki woh hasna bhool jaye’. Early in the film, the heroine, the sarpanch’s spoilt daughter, declares: ‘I hate garibs’. A song includes the lyrics: ‘Maar uske bum pe laat jo tujhe daraata hai’. In one spectacularly tedious moment, we get a spoof of the shower scene from Psycho.
And just when you think it can’t get worse, Sajid springs a scene in which Mahesh Manjrekar (the sarpanch) and Paresh Rawal (his brother-in-law) are snuggling, spoon-position, in bed and it is suggested that Paresh’s hand has been resting in an inappropriate place. When Himmatwala ended, I felt like I had aged a few years. Honestly, you need real courage to brave this one.