Reviewing the Reviews: Himmatwala

01 Apr,2013


Key Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tamannaah, Paresh Rawal, Mahesh Manjrekar

Directed By: Sajid Khan

Produced By: Vashu Bhagnani, Siddharth Roy Kapur


Sajid Khan shouts from the rooftops that he doesn’t care about critics; the feeling is mutual. This time the arrogant director with an enviable and entirely undeserving row of hits, took a bit of a fall this time. His remake of the eighties hit has got uniformly bad reviews, mostly one or 1.5 stars.


Everybody has wondered why anyone should even want to remake THAT film. And then, do nothing to it – neither tribute, nor spoof.


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express asked the right questions. “At the end of two excruciating hours, the questions I had carried into the theatre remained unanswered. Why remake Himmatwala, which wasn’t exactly scintillating cinema in the first place? What were the studios, producers, directors and stars thinking? And last, but not, as they say, the least, when, oh when will Bollywood’s blind love affair with the 80s masala movies get over?”


Rajeev Masand of IBNLive wrote, “It must take a special kind of skill to remake a mediocre film like 1983’s Himmatwala without even marginally improving on it. Director Sajid Khan’s pot pourri of excessive melodrama, puerile humor, cartoonish action, and garish songs plods on for two-and-a-half hours with little concern for your bladder or your mental health.”


Sukanya Verma of saw some tiny measure of merit in it. She commented, “Expectedly, it’s all very over-the-top but here’s the thing. The 1983 one established Jeetendra as a professional, an engineer, a man of purpose striving to bring change within a terribly feudal set-up while engaging a personal vendetta. It didn’t always work but the script fuelled his heroism. Devgn, on the other hand, loiters about doing nothing and relies purely on physical might to make an impact. For a man who brags about having so much faith in oneself, he sure wears a lot of stones on his fingers.”


Madhureeta Mukherjee of the Times of India, usually kind, ranted, “Hark back to taaki taaki and tap dance to tathaiyya as the (r)awful 80s are re-awakened from their garish grave and served re-heated; as old wine in an old bottle. Vintage? Not truly. Just as we thought Jeetendra’s white shoes and coloured wigs were laid to rest in filmi museums, Sajid Khan dips into his cookie jar of movies, masti and ‘naus-talgia’ for yet another peek into the petty-past.”


Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV quipped, “Director Sajid Khan may lack the courage to take risks but he is a very optimistic man indeed. He believes what worked in 1983 will click in 2013 too. Come to think of it, he might actually be right. Sad! Having been at the receiving end of the mindless excesses of the loud and laboured comedies that he specializes in, we know exactly what to expect from his latest foray into the terrain of tastelessness – zilch. And that is such a huge advantage for a filmmaker. If you, in the manner of the director, accept that unalloyed bunkum can be legitimately passed off, and gleefully lapped up, as cinematic entertainment, you might even come away pleased as punch with Himmatwala. The film lacks punch, but it loses no opportunity to pun on the word and the act.”


Karan Anshuman of Mumbai Mirror questioned Sajid Khan’s motives. “Even though somewhere on the poster it might say “the 80s are back”, the real tagline of Himmatwala is “A Sajid Khan Entertainer”. It seems even Khan has relented that his piece of work does not deserve to be called a film. Here is his secret, coded message of what to expect in Himmatwala and what he means by when he says he will “entertain”.


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