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