Directed and story by Subhash Ghai.
The title and the title song tell you the main thrust: The word “khalnayak” is villain, but within the villain there is always a hero—“nayak.” Two members of the police force are close to being engaged to each other, but then a famous ruffian escapes from jail. The male police officer, who put the ruffian in jail, decides he won’t be married until he catches him. The female police officer goes undercover to catch the ruffian. This film was most famous for the provocative song number “Choli ke peeche.” The story is interesting, but it suffers from the obviousness of the title (the villain’s a villain and a hero! The hero has to act like a villain sometimes!) and its blatant nationalism, which even I, who did not grow up in India and for whom the subtitles can’t even translate the full effect, noticed immediately. I think propaganda is pretty hard to efface in any language or form. The sad thing about the movie is that even though it’s an interesting story, the director doesn’t give the actors enough space to really explore their emotions. Even Madhuri Dixit only registers a good performance in what should be a really juicy role. Madhuri is my favorite, but I have to say the standout actor in this film is Sanjay Dutt (later I realized that Jackie Shroff was doing a good job, but since I didn’t like his character, and it had fewer layers, I didn’t notice it as much).
Song Highlights: The title song has an eerie flavor and the item number uses interesting camera angles and choreography. The song that caused a racket, though, was “Choli ke peeche.” The translation of that is “What is behind my blouse?” A traveling dance troupe performs the song for the ruffian after his escape from jail. The women come out with veils over their head far enough so that they beat the fabric in and out. The answer to the titular (and titillating, duh) question is in the very next verse—“the heart,” but there is no mistaking that the song is meant as a vehicle for the seduction of the ruffian by the undercover police officer. The song is very well-composed, catchy, and has a provocative rhythm. The Indian government considered censoring it and removing it from theaters. Another great highlight of the movie is that Madhuri gets to showcase some of her extensive kathak (one of the styles of Indian classical dance) training. Music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and lyrics by Anand Bakshi.
Tidbits: Sanjay Dutt is the son of Nargis and Sunil Dutt, and knowing this makes part of the movie more bearable because you are always fascinated by his face—it’s a perfect blend of both his parents. When the film was being considered for censorship, crowds flocked to the theater only to leave once “Choli ke peeche” was finished.
Rating: The themes make this film pretty non-transferable. Furthermore, it does the ol’ punches sounding like gunshots. This was the first movie I saw that did this (but certainly not the first that did it) and I actually thought it was an artistic choice to represent how violent the movie was.
Library Collection: This definitely has some historical significance; it could be a good collection for popular purposes if patrons want it.