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April 8, 2000

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Nothing to shout about

Faisal Shariff

Baaghi They say well begun is half done. But director Rajesh Kumar Singh just couldn't get this one right, despite a cast that includes Sanjay Dutt and Manisha Koirala.

He begins with a name like Baaghi. But, for a good portion of the ear-shattering flick, I kept wondering about its relevance. There were no rebels in this film; instead, the characters loudly hammed their way with the help of excess ketchup and every conceivable ingredient of a repulsive formula film.

One wonders why none of the ketchup companies bothered sponsoring a good part of the film, what with so much bloodshed around. Especially since that is the trend these days. If this sounds unconvincing, please refer to Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, the mind buster from Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla.

Baaghi Sanjay Dutt is Raja, the local goon. Young Surya moves into the area with his father, Prof V S Pandey (Shivaji Satam), a Hindi professor, and mother. Raja works for Vikram (Aditya Pancholi), who leads him to take the gun.

Surya starts idolising Raja, much to the dislike of his father. After an encounter where Surya saves Raja from an attack and refuses to identify Raja as a murderer, the duo become friends and, predictably, Raja develops a liking for the child. Raja searches for his lost childhood through Surya and eventually plays big brother to him.

Unfortunately, the child's character is jarring, loosely defined and very peculiar. Even after he witnesses Raja shoot down a man in broad daylight, he is absolutely unmoved and unaffected!

Baaghi Vikram, the don with a penchant for shades, is surrounded by bulging strongmen with seemingly wounded armpits, going by the way they stand and walk through the film. He sends his sister, Kiran (Tina Senn), to a boarding school for further studies. She eventually returns home to fall in love with a grown-up Surya (Inder Kumar), giving the gasping screenplay a fresh lease of life.

Which, again, is wasted. As, after a couple of needless fight sequences and some chaste Hindi dialogues from Shivaji Satam, you are fed with some utterly forgettable numbers. They are neither hummable nor visually appealing. All you can do is keep guessing which songs they have been copied from. Except for Sapne mein kudi, the other numbers are eminently forgettable.

Baaghi Also for all Manisha Koirala fans, a legion which includes yours truly, she has less than five minutes in the film. If you dare to blink, she's gone! After a few flashes of the lady through most of the movie, she is finally given a dialogue in the last half hour. And no, it's not even a cameo role which can have her fans raving about her. It's time she stops obliging friends with such roles and focuses on her career.

This movie is paisa vasool only when it comes to the climax, since there are two of them. Just when you want this 'violent love story' to end, you have to chew on the flashback of Raja's love story. Which inevitably contains a song, a drunken father ready to sell his daughter to a villain (Gulshan Grover) and the death of said daughter which turns the hero off the path of good.

Baaghi Raja explodes when he finds his sister in love with Surya and asks Raja to kill him. When Raja fails to convince Surya to let go, he opts for the 'if you can't win 'em, join 'em' policy and promises to see them through. After a lot of fire and blood, the end result is a dead Dutt and a happy couple.

As for the debutants, Tina Senn should be a source of inspiration for anyone who dreams of making it in films without having the necessary talent. She barely opens her account in the acting faculty, but is pretty generous when opening other strings. In the song sequences, you would fail to identify her in a group of three extras if she weren't given a different coloured costume. Infact she could well have played Inderís aunt in the film had there been a character to the effect.

Baaghi Inder Kumar has a good physique, but that's about it. He is way too clumsy and has no grace when it comes to shaking a leg. There is so much effort in his dancing and acting that it forces you to wonder at the paucity of fresh blood in the industry? He tries hard to look cute, but cuts a sorry figure every time he shares the frame with the deadly Dutt.

In fact, if it wasn't for the latter, there is little the movie has to offer. Sunjubaba seems to have got caught in a stereotype he needs to break pronto. This is his third consecutive film as the wronged man on the wrong side of law.

All in all, a loud movie with nothing to shout about.

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