Critics' review: Himmatwala is not a remake but a bland spoof

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By Hindustan Times

Film: Himmatwala
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tamannaah, Paresh Rawal, Mahesh Manjrekar, Adhyayan Suman and Zarina Wahab
Director: Sajid Khan

Plot: A remake of the 80s’ Bollywood cult hit of the same name, Himmatwala is the story of an honest temple priest, who takes on more than he can handle when he bears witness to a murder and gives evidence in a court of law against a powerful landlord in his village. The landlord bribes his way to freedom and engineers a ploy to ruin the priests’ reputation and his status among his peers in the village. Ashamed of his tarnished reputation, the priest commits suicide and leaves his wife and young children to face the atrocities of the evil landlord. The son flees the village and travels to Mumbai to make a life, but returns years later to avenge the shame that was caused to his family.

Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hunagama
Himmatwala was THE film that gave an impetus to the trend of remaking South Indian films in the 1980s. Post this film, there was a sea of remakes, with Jeetendra, Sridevi, Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor and Asrani featuring in almost every remake...

The pertinent query is, does Sajid Khan's Himmatwala recreate the magic of K. Raghavendra Rao's Himmatwala [1983], which itself was a remake of a Telugu film? At the very outset, let me inform you that the two Himmatwala's are almost similar, yet dissimilar.

Ajay Devgn's flick is all about entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. Right from the styling to death-defying action to fiery dialogue delivered in high decibels, everything that you get to see in Himmatwala is reminiscent of the Bollywood of the 1980s. The mother-son drama, the hero-villain conflict, the heroism... even Ajay's introductory sequence is straight out of 1980s. Be forewarned, Himmatwala is 1980s cinema packaged in a new wrapping, but even if you have an appetite for the masala movies of yore or are ready to do a time travel to the angry young man of 1980s, chances are you will feel suffocated by the on-screen goings-on that Sajid Khan dishes out in the name of entertainment.

Sajid makes an attempt to pay homage to the cinema of yore, but what he delivers makes you sit motionless for most parts. If a movie fails to invoke wolf whistles or ovation at the right places, you realize something is seriously wrong. The biggest problem is Sajid does nothing, absolutely nothing out of the box or path-breaking in the current scenario to grab your attention, which is why Himmatwala fails as a film. The romance lacks fire, the drama is devoid of intensity, even the action is plain ordinary.
Verdict: On the whole, Himmatwala fails as a film. The only silver lining is the presence of A-list stars and of course, the hype surrounding the film, which might attract footfalls in mass-friendly circuits initially. But as a film that promises big entertainment, Himmatwala is hugely disappointing!
Rating: *1/2

Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV
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!

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.

Himmatwala is a mindless potpourri that brings together the worst ingredients of 1980s Hindi cinema and parlays them into a messy mélange that quivers repeatedly under its own weight. Being a Sajid Khan film, it also has its share of item numbers that keep pace with the purposeless gags. In fact, Himmatwala opens with an item number – Sonakshi Sinha sways rather disinterestedly to Thank God, It’s Friday – in a nightclub called Funkytown Disco. And who is the owner of this disco? It’s Chunkey Pandey. He tells us that on the last day of every month, his dance floor turns into a bare-knuckles boxing ring.

Devgn gives Himmatwala his best shot but stepping into the Jumping Jack’s boots while strutting around in the garb of a bone-crunching terminator can’t be easy. He is joined in the garish Taaki taaki and Nainon mein sapna routines by Tamannaah Bhatia. Sans the thunder thighs that made Sridevi such a force, she is no patch on the real thing. Coming back to Sajid Khan, he not only believes in the ‘anything goes’ philosophy that drives a segment of the Mumbai movie industry, he also dares to go out on a limb to try and pull it off in practice.
Verdict: To each his own. But you don’t really have to subject yourself to this monstrous assault on the senses, even if you are blessed with loads of himmat.
Rating: *1/2

Sneha May Francis, Emirates 24X7
Himmatwala’ is a lesson in ridiculousness, and a painfully long one at that. It blatantly assaults our senses, visual and mental, leaving us severely scarred.

In director Sajid Khan’s trademark style, he botches up an already over-the-top 80’s original, by the same title, with innumerable, nonsensical twists and turns. Shockingly, through his remake, Sajid even attempts an Ang Lee, and gives a tiger a “meaty” role. Only, Sajid’s appetite for spoofs and the illogical leaves this introduction rather unfunny and bland.

Much like his whimsical take on the original, Sajid eliminates many characters from the original, and introduces a few, unimpressive ones, among them a bunch of eager item girls. Of the six dancing beauties, only one we identify as the shimmery Sonakshi Sinha, who sways to a dull disco track. The deaf-and-mute needy bloke and his pleasing ladylove, and the annoying ‘cousin’ are cut out to make way for an elderly righteous villager, a ticket collector and a growling tiger. Sajid even substitutes the crucial drama surrounding a dam construction in the original with a village election in the remake. Sajid Khan is so focused on the buffoonery and dim-witted dialogues, that there’s very little that will tickle you in Himmatwala.
Verdict: Evidently, it takes a brave heart (himmatwala) to endure this one!

Mohar Basu, Koimoi
Fashioned exactly on the same story as its 1983 saga, the story is typical of that era. Wronged mother, Savitri raises her son, Ravi to be strong enough to avenge the brutalities they have faced. Added with a Shakespearean sprinkle of Romeo and Juliet, enemies Ravi and Rekha fall for each other giving the film a love angle. You must have surely chanced upon Jeetendra and Sridevi’s Himmatwala! This is way worse given its 2013 and not 1983.

While harsh words ain’t really my style of expressing, it is the turmoil Sajid Khan unnecessarily puts us through that gives mouth to the imp inside me. Luckily, the director refrains from recreating the original scene by scene, sparing us anymore pathos than the film already is. However, he deserves credit for understanding the 80s’ genre of cinema in all its ornate frames and glossy flamboyance, almost alien to most of us bred largely in the nourishing air of intelligent contemporary cinema. Technically, Sajid has given a more lustrous look to the original Himmatwala, which is good. But still one would wonder if it is worth it, since it is surely no masterpiece and definitely no one really asked for a remake of it!

Personally, the film made me miss the intense and passionate actor Ajay Devgn was, before mindless comedies got the better of him! He is obviously way more Himmatwala than Jeetendra was and performs his stunts with inexplicable exhibition of power and strength. Often you might chance glimpses of the serious actor he was, but the script with its dim witted dialogues and spoofy gags kills those moments unceremoniously. The film will be a sad cue for Rajinikanth however, because our leading man won against a tiger, fought off enemies with mandir ke ghante and with such ease picks up carts. All that was left for Khan to make Devgn do was climb Mount Everest without oxygen or feet!

Tamannaah is a disappointment. With a tendency of getting lost in a flood of actors, she fails dismally for her dull screen presence. Mahesh Manjrekar almost matches up to Amjad Khan’s Sher Singh and that alone is a compliment by itself. He puts his acting and notoriety skills to good use on screen, giving a ridiculous film few worthwhile and enriching moments. Zarina Wahab is adequate in the role of strong willed Savitri. Her versatility could have been used more, but perhaps Sajid Khan prefers seriousness limited, looming large at places in his films. It is Paresh Rawal who once again brings on screen sheer brilliance. As Narayan Das, he easily surpasses Kader Khan who played the loyalist in the original flick.
Verdict: Sajid Khan’s Himmatwala is not a remake but a bland spoof devoid of any logic. It is stupid and exhaustingly long. This one is surely a feat, the audiences aren’t supposed to swallow down seriously! Himmatwala demands excessive himmat from the audiences to sustain it through all its exasperating buffoonery laced with dim witted stupidity. Walk out of hall and queue up for the refund Sajid Khan promised you. See you there!
Rating: **1/2

Gayatri Sankar, Zee News
As the film opens with Sonakshi Sinha grooving to a disco number doing a Parveen Babi and Sridevi, you will certainly be left to anticipate a typical retro-styled film with comedy, action, ‘melo’drama, naach-gaana around matkis and gagris all in equal proportion. Sajid Khan’s “entertainer” ‘Himmatwala’ starring Ajay Devgn has all the ingredients of a mindless masala film. But it does jolt you at regular intervals, for sopping up a 30-year-old formula, proves fatal to your contemporary digestive system!

The comedy sequences do their bit and so do the breathtaking action sequences. Fans of Devgn can look forward to his fist fight with a tiger and get swayed into the world of fantasies. But the portions where Zarina Wahab mouths “sentimental” dialogues (though they are meant to make you go teary eyed), you can’t help but burst into laughter. The songs ‘Naino Mein Sapna’ and ‘Taki Taki’ are refreshing. But the ‘Dhokha’ song featuring divas from the television world looks forced.
Verdict: In totality, the film is a typical masala entertainer, as director Sajid Khan would like to put it. You will certainly get entertained only if you had nursed the desire to travel back in time, especially to an era when cinema revolved around a helpless mother-daughter duo and their life-savior Himmatwala.
Rating: **

Nabanita, One India
I fail to understand that after doing such great films like Zakhm, Omkara, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, what prompted Devgn to sign this illogical project? Well, let's come back to the point. Talking about the performances, I know I might get battered by the Devgn fans for this, but just can't help, but criticise Mr Devgn for making a joke of himself in the movie.

And, then comes Tamanna Bhatia. I feel, she's beautiful, but she's nowhere close to the legendary Sridevi. Honestly, even after thinking deep and hard, I fail to spot even a single positive point about the film.
Verdict: On the whole, I would suggest, even if you get a free ticket for Himmatwala, please do not take the risk and give it a big miss. Honestly, I still can't believe that I'm in my fine senses after watching the nonsensical
Himmatwala.
Rating: *

Meanwhile on Twitter:
Free Spirit @onlynow_rohan: "Mujse bhi gandi film banali.Bass kya salle mere se compete karega.? Mere se kya competition"- Shirish Kunder. #Himmatwala
Shuvankar Mukherjee @shuvankr: stice #Katju wants Sajid Khan pardoned for remaking Himmatwala
Kamaal R Khan - KRK @kamaalrkhan: ter watching #Himmatwala you will be sure tat They all 3 Farah khan, Sajid khan n Shirish Kunder are competitors to prove who is worst?
Taran Adarsh @taran_adarsh: Update: #Himmatwala opening below expectations
Paraag @paraagdhoke now @vipulchamp@shantanugore 2 minutes of silence for those who have advance booked #Himmatwala tkts & turned their #GoodFriday into a Bad one.

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