August 15, 2020
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Starring: Fardeen Khan, Urmila Matondkar, Sunil Shetty
Director: Ram Gopal Verma
Rating: **

The tiger is in the eyes, goes the old jungle saying. Vijay Aroras camera in this Ram Gopal Verma film makes you see the hyena instead. The grass, woods and trees of Jungle lurk like predatory, cunning animals hell-bent on pulling a fast one. Men and guns emerge only to disappear in the game of stalking death.

So has Indias answer to the punch-packed Hollywood generation come up with a great flick this time? The answer could have been yes. From Hindi cinemas point of view, this is a landmark film in style and technique. The camera of course works like an author. But the editing and the background score make you aware of a multi-layered sense of action. An ordinary loverboy and a team of crack commandos are looking for the girl kidnapped by Veerappan-type bandits. The boy gets hold of the girl and bolts in a freak accident. Now the bandits are hunting down the lovers while the commandos are chasing both.

The scene cuts from one format to another, unhurriedly without jarring for a minute, from the eyes of a man to the limbs of a woman, from the resolve of one to the fear of the other. The effect is disorienting-it buries expectations and brings out the unknown. You even fail to root for the obvious when cliff-hanging, Hindi film cliches appear towards the end.

The cliches, however, mar the dirty, grimy, swampy, slushy feel, which throngs the tight and snazzy dialogues. Ram Gopal is evidently attempting a synthesis of Remain and Platoon. As is usual in his case, the more belly-driven Platoon element wins. In one scene the bandits bargain like cool demons before chopping off a head. But then they start singing to celebrate.

And after the interval, Verma brings in the saanp-bicchoo-sher ka khel which compromises the dramatic tension.

Urmila, after a string of flops to her credit, does her deglamourised bit and looks quite convincing. Fardeen, after his debut debacle of Prem Agan, doesnt look like a wimp and Sunil Shettys deadpan face is used to good effect. Wish Ram Gopal knew how to combine the folksy, playful elements of the theme with hard-boiled, Jungle realism.

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