*may contain spoilers*

"In the old days villains had moustaches and kicked the dog. Audiences are smarter today. They don't want their villain to be thrown at them with green limelight on his face. They want an ordinary human being with failings."
- Alfred Hitchcock

I tried to watch this movie a couple of times before, but could never seem to get past 'Baazigar Oh Baazigar' - I don't know what it was, but, with nothing else to do last night, I stuck it in, resumed from where I last left it and all I can say is achcha achcha, now I get it!

This movie has been hailed as one of the films that launched Shah Rukh Khan to super stardom, and for someone who had her Bollywood teeth cut on his more recent hits like 'Kal Ho Naa Ho' and 'Om Shanti Om', it was definitely a departure from the romantic sensitive role that I've been used to. Unlike the classic clear cut villians we've seen in the past such as Amjed Khan's Gabbar Singh (Sholay) or Amrish Puri's Mogambo (Mr. India), Shah Rukh's character is steeped in shades of grey, thus the term anti-hero is born. His double role as the reserved green eyed Ajay Sharma and the outgoing brown eyed Vicky Malhotra is particularly fascinating and intriguing because in the first half of the film we don’t yet fully understand why he's juggling these two vastly different characters.

I have never doubted Shah Rukh Khan's talent as an actor, but 'Baazigar' unveiled a layer that I had yet to witness. The versatility he displays is so rarely achieved to such an extent in the course of one film. To personify a character who can be so sympathetic yet so maniacally obsessed is truly a testament to his aptitude as a performer. Even amongst all of the violence, my sympathies lay with Ajay. I found myself cheering for him to get who I speculate are the real bad guys, but was not prepared for what I considered a truly tragic finale.

Let's not forget that one man does not a movie make. Solid performances were made by Shilpa Shetty as the sweet, unassuming Seema; Johnny Lever's Babu Lal adds a huge dose of zany comedy as the hopelessly forgetful and ridiculously stupid head waiter of the wealthy Chopra family; and perhaps most importantly is that this is the first movie in which Shah Rukh teams up with Kajol. As Priya, she gives a sensitive yet determined performance, showing great spark and you can just tell that there are greater things to come. See Priya's reaction the first time she sees Vicky and you realize she has fallen for him. Here is an actress who can emote with just a look or glance rather then have to depend on dialogue to get her point across.

The music in this film includes a timeless selection of songs, some with impressive scenery like in 'Baazigar O Baazigar' or the song that sticks in my head not only for it's insanely catchy tune, but for it's fun choreography 'Yeh Kali Kali Aankhen'. If I had only one critique it would be that the film is a grim reminder of the end 1980s and early 1990s, a nadir for Hindi cinema in terms of aesthetics and style. The costumes in particular make one cringe with embarrassment (see this post). Though, in all honesty, my closet probably didn't look much better!

Baazigar is cleverly entertaining as it swings from sad and heavy moods to quite zany comedy and action scenes to break the intense drama and tension of the serious story. The overall result is a well-balanced movie expressing a wide variety of emotions and moods totally worthy of all of it's Filmfare wins. I look forward to 'Daar' with baited breath.

4 Response to "Baazigar"

  1. bollywooddeewana says:
    June 6, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    This film lost me at the end, i hated the last few minutes, i thought 'really Kajol, you've been on a quest to find out who killed your sister, is this all you can do. the songs were all fantastic though, i thought Shilpa was mega cute in 'Kitaben bahut se' but unfortunately the ending of this movie spoilt it for me

  2. shell says:
    June 7, 2009 at 8:45 AM

    I can see your point - she just kind of stood there and watched everything unfold before her eyes without so much as a squeak.

  3. Daddy's Girl says:
    June 9, 2009 at 3:57 AM

    Lovely review as usual Shell, you captured what makes this film noteworthy... I also loved that at Shilpa's birthday party, they played 'It's My Life', a song by a Nigerian artist.... I love SRK's early performances, he had this raw, hungry quality that I really enjoy watching. A word of warning on 'Darr' - many people find SRK's performance in this pretty bad, but for me, he stole the show - I thought he did a great job. (Like bollywoddeewana with 'Baazigar' though, I had a problem with 'Darr's ending)... I'm really curious to see what you think after watching it...

  4. shell says:
    June 9, 2009 at 6:20 AM

    I don't own a copy of it, so I'll have to wait until my next movie trip. I also recognized that song and chuckled a little bit. The whole dance/birthday party scene was funny with those two guys thinking Shilpa was gesturing towards her. I'm watching more and more early SRK and really liking what I'm seeing for sure.