Sunday, May 25, 2003

Khatron Ke Khiladi: B-movie jazz

prologue: Here's my thesis: The kind of improvisation that one associates with jazz can only be found in the films generated in the lowbie farms, and not in mainstream Hindi cinema -- barring the energetic fervent envelope-pushing efforts from Ram Gopal Varma. These low-budget ventures are also showcases of unintentional self-awareness ... not quite post-modern, though, because post-modernism emphasises pastiche, parody, bricolage, irony, and playfulness. These little movies strung together with remarkable cost-efficiency do not attempt to trascend and challenge the boundaries of genre. All the pastiche and parody are attributes of the final output -- a product of audience reactions. Which means they are functions of the quality of the audience. The remote areas of India where these films strike a tidy profit comprise a hoard of receptive people, who have few demands from films and their makers. No desire to see wonderfully etched and framed shots, with subtle messages. All they want is good old action/drama with naach-gaanaa. Then there are people like me:). We know these movies aren't laden with great visual composition, multi-layered scripts. Their appeal is in the ways they push the envelope of film-making, while staying loyal to their core fan sector (mentioned above). Khatron Ke Khiladi is yet another example of such a movie.

For those not in the know, here is a little refresher on how Mithun came to become the King of the Bollywood Bs. And another look at the interesting career of this talented actor, who defies explanation. This guy has won four national awards: best actor for Mrigaya (his début), Tahader Katha; best supporting actor for Agneepath and Swami Vivekananda (he played Ramakrishna Parmahans).

Back to the movie. The plot, being a melange of the motivations of movies like Sholay and Karma, is simple: four goons on the run from the cops become saviours for a complacent group of villagers oppressed by an evil unpatriotic Thakur. Here's a brief character sketch of each of the KKK, aka the Gang of Four

Chhailaa Bihaarii (Mithun): Speaks like a Bihari (well, at least, the filmi version of a Bihari). Although the group puts everything to vote, he is clearly the leader. A confirmed Brahmachaari (aka Hanumanji kaa bhakt), he is inevitably drawn to love Phulwa, a travelling bride-in-waiting, who lets her bull guide her to her mate-to-be (and it turns out to be Chhailaa Babu himself)

Raanjhaa Hi.ndustaanii (Puru Raj Kumar): The only member of the gang who talks straight Hindi, but is given to delivering couplets of variable levels of bland innovation (Perhaps in homage to his late father Jaani Raaj Kumar, who literally wrote the encyclopaedia of one-liners in Hindi cinema)

Bombaas (Ronit Roy): The clichéd Hyderabadi (for a more intense portrayal see Shakti Kapoor). He's the demolitions expert (and ironically enough, his death at the end is an explosive one!)

Baazigar (Sudesh Berry): Talks like a Parsi and is adept at exploiting every opportunity for a quick bet, offering high odds with the confidence of victory.

Me-tune Chakraborty: Subhash K Jha reviews the soundtrack for Khatron Ke Khiladi.

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