1983. We had just finished a brain-squeezing exam and 30 of us wanted to leave those brains behind and watch a “bad” Hindi film. Himmatwala playing at Badal/Bijlee was the perfect choice. Mr. Jeetendra was a joke those days. No one had heard of Ms. Sridevi. Mr. Kadar Khan and Mr. Shakti Kapoor were also pretty much unknown. The director was some “Madrasi”. How could it fail to be bad!
And what fun we 18-19 years old had! It started with our first view of Ms. Sridevi and her thunder thighs…and from then on we just went berserk. Himmatwala was a bad film. But it was and still is perhaps the best of its genre…a great “bad” film.
When I read that Mr. Sajid Khan was going to recreate this good “bad” film, I promised myself I would see it the first weekend itself. In anticipation last month, I re-watched the 1983 version of this cult film. I was quite confident that Mr. Sajid Khan would do something terribly nice with this material, based on the awfully successful tripe his previous work has been and the couple of “remake” genes he probably shares with his sister, Ms. Farah Khan, who made a reasonably entertaining Om Shanti Om based on Karz.
On Tuesday night before the Holi holiday, I was out with some school-friends. I told them how much I wanted to watch the new Himmatwala and we made plans for the weekend. I explained why this film was so important and what a landmark the original had been…it had spawned a whole generation of terrible “Southie” masala films like Tohfa, Justice Chaudhary, Masterji and the like, which for quite some time changed the dynamics of the Hindi film industry.
And then it all unraveled. The kids had exams the next week and were not going to be free. I had to travel over the weekend and could not make it with my school-friends. I thought of catching the Friday night show after work, but the cousins I went out for dinner with were not interested.
By Friday evening, the first online reviews started rolling in. And instead of the good “bad” film it was supposed to be, it turned out to be a bad, really bad, “bad” film. No one, not one person seemed to find anything redeeming. Then came the mainstream reviews on Saturday morning. And by Saturday evening, the feeling of wanting to watch Himmatwala 2013 was gone. Squashed…the scales fallen from my eyes…the way you feel after the girl you have proposed to not says no, and then looking at her again, you wonder why you asked her in the first place!
A similar letdown happened when Mr. Ramu made his version of Sholay. I was excited about the re-interpretation, but couldn’t make it to the theatre the first weekend and then never had the courage to. A few months back, shored up by some Macallan, I finally inserted the DVD…I couldn’t watch it beyond the first 30 minutes, despite the wet, woozy, emotional support of the single malt. One day in the future, I will similarly try to go through Himmatwala 2013…and hope it will be a shade better than RGV Ki Aah, sorry Aag.
This is the ultimate sacrilege! Reviewing a film without even having watched it! But then, a masochist, I am not!