Judwaa (1997)

It is not realistic, nor is it sensible. It's loud. It's over the top. Some of it tests the line between funny and tasteless. Production values matter not. Neither does the script. Yet, Producer Sajid Nadiadwala was discussing the possibility of its sequel starring the same lead actor. Because this David Dhawan-directed comedy works!

Raja and Prem are judwaas (twins) separated at birth because of a power struggle between their father (a cop) and a criminal on the run. Raja -- presumed dead by his family -- is lost in the streets and grows up to be a thief (a la Dharmendra in Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973)), and Prem, a singer and musician, grows up in the U.S., hopelessly in love with all things Indian. They have their lovely ladies, of course -- Mala (Karisma Kapoor) and Roopa (Rambha). Will Raja and Prem discover they're brothers? Will their father suffer at the hands of a dangerous criminal (Mukesh Rishi, most well known for his fantastic performance in Sarfarosh (1999)), given at least Prem's non-violent ways? Complete with a bunch of excellent supporting actors, and a climax with dishoom dishoom to Latin jazz of all background score elements (!), there's much fun to be had in Judwaa, which falls in the 'I never imagined I'd like this film' category.

Ooi Maa, two Salman Khans!

The Eros Entertainment DVD (purchased from their online store) reads: 'Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over'. This is a good thing, and I wish our distributors (and consumers; parents?) paid more attention to these ratings. The case also suggests that the film is subtitled in English, which the disc does not live up to. I'm not sure if the issue is unique to my copy, or if it's an issue with the specific edition. Either way, it's a shame, because there is a lot of fun to be had with the dialogue in this film. Since I cannot share any with you, how about some fun with frames?

Let's begin with Raja and Rangeela (Shakti Kapoor) in prison, who don't hesitate to plot a robbery outside a bank, wearing prisoners' clothes as soon as they're let go.

Of course, this film followed the phenomenal success of Raja Hindustani (1995) and Rangeela (1994). The heroine from the former is humming Pardesi Pardesi here before being surprised. Karisma, please come back!

Raja's jewelry shopping etiquette is consistent with his net worth.

And Prem the NRI is in love with all things Indian. References include Aishwarya Rai (at the time, of course, Salman was dating her), Madhuri Dixit (who is to him what Juhi is to Aamir, and Kajol to Shah Rukh) and Govinda!

He falls for Roopa (Rambha).

They make for an interesting pair. Or do they?

Salman has always been one of the best at street fights, and there's plenty of evidence here. This might not be the popular stance in the blogosphere, but I'm definitely looking forward to his upcoming Veer.

The supporting cast adds a lot. It includes the scheming Kader Khan (Mala's father) and his brother-in-law in the film, Tiku Talsania.

Anupam Kher (right) and Satish Shah are at their finest, and inject comic relief in an all-out comedy, if that makes sense. Who do you think the boss is?

Bindu is quite effective. There's a scene in particular in which Raja mistakes her for Roopa, which is just howlarious.

Among others are my favorite filmy parents Reema Lagoo and Dalip Tahil.

Like Andaz Apna Apna (1994), Judwaa is packed with references to Indian pop culture. As is the concern with that 1994 classic (which is undoubtedly a much, much better and more complete film overall), there is greater than normal risk involved for non-Hindi speakers unfamiliar with these references to interpret all the referencing and slang as pointless and not funny. Besides, there are lines such as these that get me: 1. From Star TV to Doordarshan! 2. Tu Meri Hai Pepsi Cola Main Tera Hoon Coca-Cola (You're my Pepsi, I'm your Coke; how's that for a pick-up line?). It's all banal, yes, but somehow, the cast sells it, and it only contributes positively to the identity of the film.

The songs aren't special, but the lyrics (Dev Kohli) to the music (Anu Malik) make the intergation of the soundtrack bearable. Tan Tana Tan is still extremely popular. Others include Oonchi Hai Building and Duniya Mein Aaye Ho, and as one can tell, they stay true to the narrative. A special mention to a ridiculously composed tune to Saare Jahaan Se Achha, a fair quality video of which I cannot find online.

It's Salman who makes this film entertaining. The twins are complete opposites of one another in their behavior, speech, dress, and philosophies, and he's great in both roles. I cannot think of another current actor who would have done better than him here. Not Govinda. Not Akshay Kumar. I laughed hard and often when viewing, which means it worked for me as it was intended by the filmmakers. Did it have the same impact on those of you who've seen it, or was it just me seeing it after a difficult week? In addition, I'm not sure I'd recommend it to non-South Asian non-Hindi/Urdu speakers, because I don't believe it translates effectively across cultures either, but please correct me if I'm overlooking something there.

Fun for what it is, and as Salman says in one of his 10 Ka Dum (TV game show) blog posts (a good read), "...humor with malice towards none is as essential as oxygen!"

Movie rating: 3.5/5 (Good!)

Music rating: 2.5/5

My classification: PG-13


Anonymous said...

U r totally unpredictable tBF.

Salman-i like him the most is like this. Nasty guy. Silly funny act. He is best at it. I also loved his JaanEmann act which ppl found over the top. And yes still I m lookin fwd to Veer cause it travels back in time and its always intresting to watch. Did u liked Suryavanshi? It is told that Veer is sumwhat remake of it.

This one was ulitmate fun. Music, as u said was really 'into' the movie,with funny lyrics. And Karisma, love her most in comedies. I never liked her much in 'oomph' avatars. I think she was way better in comedies, what say?

And i sincerely hope that Sajid would not give director's seat to another Sajid....puhleeze.

JJC said...

Salman is good when he wants to be..this movie is so hilarious. the songs are still songs i remember 12 yrs later, (c'mon, oonchi hai building is the sh*t!)
Karisma is just as funny as him with those crazy dance moves and that line "oh my lover, your so clever!"

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Darshit: Yes, Jaan-e-Mann was great too, I really enjoyed it. I haven't seen Suryavanshi, but as you say, the period film that Veer is said to be should make it fun and interesting for an action film! I think besides Aamir, he would've been the only other choice for Sanjay in a Bollywood Ghajini.

Salman is far from a role model (the entertainment industry has few to begin with), but I believe the media have relentlessly been out there and against him for a long time in some very, very disgusting ways, which is shameful. Despite that, he's managed to sustain his composure and popularity through the years, which is a remarkable achievement no matter how one looks at it. I just don't think he's even a quarter as bad as he's made out to be by those to whom he doesn't succumb, and let's leave it at that. Agreed on Karisma in comedies!

Hey there JJC: I agree about Salman, he's rather inconsistent with his performances, and when he's good, he can be very effective. Right on with 'Oonchi hai building', those are innovative lyrics, eh? And yes, Karisma and Salman make for a fun pairing. They were fantastic together, here and in Andaz Apna Apna! (I see you remember that dialogue from here...it's hilarious!)

JJC said...

( dont know if my 2nd comment posted or not so rewritng, if so delete plz)
Karisma and Salman are my 2nd fav pair after Anil/Madhuri pair..
karisma was so funny (after sridevi and juhi) this scene kills me: "kuchi kuchi karo na!

How could I not remember that dialogue it makes me laugh even now..the women had quite a few funny dialogoues themselves (i.e Juhi in One2ka4: 'hello hi boliye jai mata di boliye!)

Pitu said...

Yayyy you posted on Judwaa!!!!!! Tune meri arzi sun li :-D I LOVE this movie hehehe.. My fave line is when the 2 Sallus bump into each other at the loo and one says "Ey! Tu mere jaisa thobda kidhar se leke aaya re?" Anyway, I don't think anyone does Mumbaiyya taporigiri as hilariously as Sallu, must be his aadha Marathi roots ;-D

Also, I am shocked that you think the media is against him. He *has* done a lot of things incl. running over several and killing one pedestrian, physically abusing his gf (Ash), poaching an endangered specie, making harassing phone calls, breaking film sets etc. That he was never sent to jail says more about our thakela justice system than his 'innocence'! What other star (and as you said, there are few role models in the indstry) has done soooo many illegal and unethical things? The only one who can top him I think, is Sanjay Mr AK 47 Dutt!

I think Salman is a really talented actor and I love most of his films but as a person, I have no respect for him :-( He uses his clout as a star to escape his vahiyaat actions. Just because he donates to charity, that does not nullify the vile things he has done!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Such a brilliant movie to relax to- its brain dead, and so cheap and so so so good- I love it! I have to confess- I get emotional when Satish Shah is killed off [boohoo]

Bhargav Saikia said...

In those days, David Dhawan comedies were madly entertaining! I loved the flambouyant acting of Karishma Kapoor in those films.

The songs of Judwaa are a "classic"! :D
It must have become a favourite pick-up line by now "chalti hai kya nou se barah!"

And uff Bindu! She's irresistible!

theBollywoodFan said...

JJC: Only one iteration of the second one came through, I guess. That scene is hilarious, ROTFL all the way, really. Thanks for sharing!

Pitu: Thanks to your reminder, I ordered Judwaa and here it is! That scene where the two Salmans meet is great. There's also a scene later on, in the bathroom (for those of you who haven't seen the film, it's not near as vulgar as it sounds, LOL) was funny too, especially toward the end when Rambha makes her way in!

I also got the Ghalib album by Lata Mangeshkar, it's divine. Thanks for the recommendation!

On Salman and the media...I'm not going to defend him (and he *has* been sent to jail (for poaching), and deservedly so) as much as I will gladly be one who will blame the media for blowing things out of proportion, as they always do. It doesn't take much to realize the kind of coverage he's gotten even from a strictly professional standpoint. It's been biased as hell, and it's almost always been against him. 5, 10, 15, 20 years (when he didn't have the bad boy image, starting out), it was the same!

Here are some things I think about: If Salman had indeed physically abused Ash, why is his relationship with Amitabh Bachchan still fairly pleasant? Wasn't his driver the one who'd accidentally killed the pedestrian? At least, isn't that what the court concluded? If he were as rowdy and out of control on the sets of films, for instance, how has he lasted this long in the industry (filmmakers would shy away from him, no one wants a problem child on his/her team) and built so many friendships along the way?

I guess, for better or for worse, there's a judicial process that determines what he's at fault for. He's been to court, he's been sentenced, that's what I'd rather follow. Same with Sanjay. There's never any question of what they've done not being wrong once there was enough evidence to back it (or if there wasn't, I presume not guilty), but there's just too much noise out there to filter through, and a lot of it's hardly fact-based, *that* is my issue with all of this.

So the only standard we can trust is enforced by the courts. (Then again, I might be wearing my regulator hat in saying this; I'm hardly unbiased, just like everyone else :P)

But trusting the court system is not prudent, either, of course. Completely agree with you on the 'thakela justice system'. Elected political leaders today, in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat (and probably elsewhere), with *video* evidence of their crimes (way, way more vaahiyaat than anything Salman has done, all in the name of you know what), have never faced jail time, and probably never will! That is the sad reality of law enforcement in our country, so it's best for me to just shut up about it, LOL ;) I think we agree on who is primarily to blame, just approaching from different nazaryaat!

theBollywoodFan said...

Shweta: Absolutely! Brain-dead and cheap are good words to describe it, LOL. My only complaint with the film was how they dealt with Satish Shah. Why kill him?

Bhargav: Yeah, this was out of hand at some points. Stuff I never thought I'd laugh at, to be honest. All convincingly done. I almost want to agree with you on the songs, despite my rating. Nothing has come close to the Pepsi-Coke analogy! :o) And Bindu was hilarious, I still can't get over that scene in which Raja goes to look for Roopa. I LOL at the thought!

JJC said...

I love that you defend Salman so fairly..it makes you like you a bit more ;p

Saadia said...

I, for one, think Salman and Sanjay have both been unfairly maligned over and over again. The media doesn't like Salman especially, for some reason.

workhard said...

Salman was once upon a time truly hilarious, now i feel all that charm and comedy has died down drastically.. And so are his actresses rambha and karishma..


theBollywoodFan said...

JJC: I think it's only fair that film celebrities be treated the same way as normal people in a court of law. Just because they're popular and more financially resourceful doesn't mean that should be a liability. When Salman went to prison for poaching, there were several hundred other cases filed for the same crime *before* his was filed, that will likely not be touched. Among those were some politicians' children. Their trials haven't commenced yet. And the news media have an interesting way of hiding all this :)

Saadia: Please read comment to JJC above. And yes, there are several people in the media who are even rooting for a Salman-Katrina break-up, which tells us all we need to know of their approach to their profession. The bigger issue, I think, is the lack of a balanced focus of law enforcement practices. There's obviously a double standard somewhere. There's an interesting discussion to be had on the subject, well beyond the scope of film, so I'll end here.

workhard: I agree. Salman was certainly more effective and consistent with his comedies in the 1990s. Still, Partner was a lot of fun, and hopefully Partner 2 will be a lot of fun too! Karisma and Rambha left a while ago, I wonder when they'll return, if at all. Wasn't there some talk of Karisma coming back soon?

Nicki said...

I thought this movie was cute!!!

Then later I found out that it's a remake of Jackie Chan's Twin Dragon - almost frame-by-frame.

But regardless, just as good as watching two Salman Khan's.

workhard said...

Yeah, i heard that too, but no publicity till now..

ajnabi said...

Ah, I'm looking forward to Veer. Just, you know, for the absolute wrong reasons.

I agree with you though that Salman is the awesome at street fighting. I keep on wondering why he was cast as the "sensitive guy" so often when clearly he should've been playing the wounded thug!

theBollywoodFan said...

Nicki: Thank you for the info. Have you seen Twin Dragon? It's been a while since I last saw a Jackie Chan film, I know he can be as funny as anyone else! Although I must say, the frame-by-frame original probably doesn't include the songs Judwaa does; most remember Judwaa for its songs and the Salman-Karisma antics! ;)

workhard: Well, thanks to you, now I know! I'll try getting it next time I'm DVD shopping.

Ajnabi: I agree with Salman for wounded thug! For those of us looking forward to Veer knowing what it might contain, I don't think it will disappoint. his films have largely associated him with the sensitive guy image, you're right. What's also interesting is it's Aamir who's always been considered the action hero (his filmography backs it up; he certainly has what are considered the most memorable action films of his generation, over an extended period of time).

What's also interesting is Aamir wanted Salman to act in Ghajini, before Murgadoss and Surya convinced him to play the lead. I truly believe Salman would've been quite good too.

Nicki said...

Hey! You're very welcome. Yes, I've seen Twin Dragons. Jackie Chan is wonderful, like always. The best in comedy in Hong Kong....but Stephen Chow is slowly creeping up there but his style is different and cool!

Back to Twin Dragons - it is an exact copy with songs, hehehe. I looove the songs in Judwaa cause they're so cute and funny. My hubby still sings the song "East to West, India is the Best" but replaces India with his name sometimes, lol. I do love the Salman-Karisma jodi the most too.

theBollywoodFan said...

"East or West...YO...", ha ha that's hilarious, Nicki! ;) Salman and Karisma rock. It's interesting, he's also done a film with Kareena (Kyun Ki), and I seem to be the only one who somewhat liked the film. I'm hoping if and when Andaz Apna Apna 2 finally comes about, that we'll see Karisma again! (If not earlier.)