Mayank Shekhar's review: Tell Me O Khuda

By Hindustan Times

Director: Hema Malini
Actors: Esha Deol, Arjan Bajwa
Rating: *

Here’s the story: The heroine’s an artiste of sorts. Much later in her youth, she figures that she’s in fact an adopted child. Confused by this strange turn of events, she leaves home, generally curious to finally meet her biological parent. Her boyfriend remains by her side. This was Hema Malini’s directorial debut in 1992, with Shah Rukh Khan playing that boyfriend, and Divya Bharti, the leading lady.

Two decades hence, Hema Malini’s the director again; her daughter (Esha Deol) is the heroine. The story remains roughly the same! Which is fair. I don’t think anyone’s interested in telling a story here, commercial hit for the daughter, her re-launch as it were, is more important. It’s easy to tell why this movie got made.

Suddenly, out of the sea in captivating silver overtone, emerges the hot leading lady in ghagra-choli, under a full moonlight. This shows her sensuous side. But she’s not just a pin-up. On a threatening sunny day, in the scorching heat of Rajasthan, this Flying Sikh can dive, land straight onto the back of a running camel set to the chant of “Jai Maa Bhawani”. This is Rekha's Jhansi Ki Rani type stuff from past her glory days.

This lead character, a writer by profession, has just won the famed camel race in a town called Pratapgarh. She’s the first female to do so. The race sequence is delightful. The heroine’s father, in real life, I’m told, has been a member of parliament from Bikaner in Rajasthan. The locations scouted for is understandably stunning. Thrown back in time, she is surrounded by Rajput warriors, rotary phones, massive palace. The king could be her biological father (Vinod Khanna). We don’t know yet.

Or the real dad (Rishi Kapoor) could be an Indian Muslim man in a town called Kas. We’re in Turkey: I mean of course the European country, not this oddly ballistic movie. The scenic beauty seems sponsored by the tourism board. The mother in this half-Indian household went cuckoo when her child died at birth, 24 years before: she carries kiddie books, talks to an empty crib, dances with an infant’s sweater on her chest. She could be the heroine’s real mom. You never know.

There are basically three daddies in contention: Abhay, Altaf, Anthony, much like Amar, Akbar, Anthony. A jobless boyfriend (Arjan Bajwa) and his carefree lackey (Chandan Roy Sanyal) get to vacation, enjoy a free ride, touring on this search. The final destination’s Goa, where the dad could turn out to be a well known dreaded don.

This is when daddy of ‘em all Dharmendra walks into the picture. He, of the “kutte kaminey, main tera khoon pee jaoonga” fame, beats other villains to pulp, knocks down armies. “Oh Jheezes,” you go, as Garam Dharam puts in this pic. It’s a sad parody. The 76-year-old ‘70s superstar did this for his sons Sunny, Bobby in Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011). That unbearable picture was a hinterland hit. He’s giving his best for his luckless daughter this time.

Extreme love for the progeny produces corruption in several societies. It produces some terribly inspired entertainment in India. Few grudge the latter as much, I suppose. They don't have to sit through it, if they don’t wish to. I didn’t have a choice.

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