Out running yesterday after a quick workout at the gym, nearly got attacked by a wandering duck on the trail by the Country Club, and saw several birds perched atop the terrace of a two-story house, next to a satellite dish. The satellite dish reminded me of the climax to the movie Baazi (1995), which I watched over last Thanksgiving weekend and have not reviewed since. I figure now would be a good time for it.
Baazi stars Aamir Khan as Inspector Amar Damjee, Mamta Kulkarni as journalist Sanjana Roy, Paresh Rawal as a CM Chaturvedi and others including Kulbushan Kharbanda, Asrani, and Raza Murad. Interestingly, this movie was written (and directed) by Ashutosh Gowariker. Yes, the brain behind the likes of Lagaan (2001) and Swades (2004). Baazi is probably his least well-known film (as a writer; as a director, the 1993 film Pehla Nasha did not do much at the box office), given that it did not do too well at all at the box office.
Anyway, on to the movie. The flick is, in a nutshell, about an inspector (Aamir Khan) who avenges his parents' deaths en route to busting a corrupt group of politicians and gangsters led by Paresh Rawal. Mamta Kulkarni plays Aamir Khan's love interest, and in fact aids him at times.
Baazi (literally translated as 'duel') belongs to Aamir Khan. From the very first scene aboard a bus, to the very last scene atop a building terrace (during the days satellite dishes started ruling the skylines all across South Asia), Aamir is in tremendous form. He is very comfortable with the action scenes (a tribute to his versatility).
A few scenes in particular that I recall as effective:
1. When Sanjana Roy visits Amar Damjee's residence for an interview, and is greeted by the housekeeper Asrani and his boss Amar. Asrani is instructed by his boss to role play Amar in the interview to Sanjana, which is very well executed and perhaps the funniest sequence in the film.
2. When Amar Damjee discovers that Commissioner Mazumder's daughter was murdered.
3. A scene outside a 'dhaaba' (an eating place along a roadway), where Amar and his fellow cops hope to capture smuggled goods. The second scene here (one following the initial identification of the location as a criminal group's stop) is particularly well shot. And yes, the dhaaba looks very real, complete with a gas station and the chaarpaayees. Think of the dhaaba as an old-fashioned service plaza (the kind you have alongside interstate expressways at every 30 miles or so, e.g. the Florida Turnpike)
4. When Inspector Damjee visits the gangsters' den, in disguise (and wearing a salwaar kameez and Sindhi cap!).
5. Amar's assuming the role of a woman in the song Dole Dole Dil Dole, and for a few minutes thereafter, to gain access to the bad guys.
The principal actors involved do very well. All in all, an engaging action flick with all the elements of a desh bhagt (patriotic) police inspector. We should have guessed a trend here, with Aamir Khan and Mr. Gowariker!
This film is well made, but some parts to it are needlessly dragged farther than they needed to be. Yet, I am going with three and a half stars for a very good film that only proves further Aamir Khan's acting prowess (not that we needed any more proof, but you get the point).
My rating: 3.5/5 (very good)
My soundtrack rating: 2/5 (average)
My classification: NC-17 (for violence and language)