‘90s Bollywood: Khuddar (1994)

Khuddar movie poster

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

Bollywood comedy in the ‘90s was synonymous to two things: a Govinda of ample proportions doing all sorts of weird antics and dancing in his trademark ‘don’t-try-this-at-home’ style, and/or Johnny Lever trying his level best to be funny, and more often than not, failing to do so. But hey, you would be underestimating Govinda a lot, if you feel he only starred in mindless laughathons. ‘Khuddar’, directed by Iqbal Durrani (the man who later went on to direct ‘Mehndi’ – one of the most regressive movies in Rani Mukerji’s entire career), was one of those flicks which presented Govinda in a serious – no, scratch that – intense role. It went on to rake in plenty of moolah at the box-office too!

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

In ‘Khuddar’, you will meet ‘Siddhant’ (Govinda) – a tough-as-nails police officer. He is the son of the upright home minister ‘Shastri’ (Shreeram Lagoo), and has his mother (Anjana Mumtaz) and a balding young brother ‘Nandu’ (Raju Shreshtha) in his family too. The entry of our hero is as dramatic as it gets, with ‘Siddhant’ running after notorious criminal ‘Kapali’ (Jack Gaud) an adrenalin-pumping chase. The latter, in case you were wondering, had killed a person on an open road, and a journalist bang at his office. But hey, in 90s movies, baddies could do practically any crime, anywhere. Ah, convenience!

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

Anyhow, coming back to the story – our slightly chubby leading man (‘Govinda’ was on his way towards achieving his ‘Dulhe Raja’ girth!) needs a svelte heroine, right? Cue the entry of ‘Pooja’ (Karishma Kapoor) – wearing skirts and tops that were considered at those times (also known as the ‘pre-Sunny Leone age’) to be extremely bold, and swaying to the tunes of ‘Baby, baby, baby mujhey log boley’. If you are an Indian, not less than 25 years of age, shame on you if you have not heard this number.

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

No-nonsense cop ‘Siddhant’, of course, disapproves such skimpily-clad women. After rescuing ‘Pooja’ from the clutches of a group of thugs who wanted to to make a blue-film on her (and…hold your breath…’Nandu’ was the cameraman in the group!), he refuses to even touch her. Of course, that’s until ‘Pooja’ explains that she does all these naachna-gaana in front of drunk and lecherous people – simply to provide for the orphan kids in her colony. To her credit, she promptly switches over, and stays in, more demure clothes – as her affair with ‘Siddhant’ progresses.

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

For ‘Nandu’ though, things are not as pleasant. He is shocked to find that his brother is planning to marry the girl who is the only eye-witness of his naughty escapades with the camera. Teaming up with ‘Adarsh Vardhan’ (Shakti Kapoor) – an officer whom ‘Siddhant’ had booted out earlier and has now become the home minister, and the scheming ‘Babujaan’ (Mahesh Anand), he makes repeated attempts to kill ‘Pooja’. Although ‘Pooja’s life is saved each time, she gets blinded as a result of one such attack. ‘Siddhant’ and ‘Pooja’s infant son also gets poisoned accidentally by the bad guys. After that, the wrath of ‘Siddhant’ falls upon ‘Adarsh’ and ‘Babujaan’ – and the film ends on a happy note.

 

a still from Khuddar

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

‘Khuddar’ has some dialogs that are totally for the keeps. Sample this: When ‘Siddhant’ chases ‘Kapali’, he gives the latter two options: ‘Tu gidhar ki maut marega? Ya chuhey ki?’ (Will you die the death of a mouse or a mule?). Or when ‘Pooja’, while trying to explain her ‘Baby baby’ act to ‘Siddhant’ says ‘Mai apni taang ki maans dikhati hoon ta ki in logo ki taang me maans rahey!’ (I expose the meat on my legs, so that the poor children have meat on theirs). Admit it – that’s a great analogy! The romantic going-ons in the movie is not free of heavy-duty dialogs either – with ‘Siddhant’ kissing the hands (what were you thinking, huh?) of ‘Pooja’ and saying ‘Mai har pavitra cheez ke saath pehle yehi karta hoon’ (I do this whenever I lay my hands on anything holy). Policemen, according to him are similar to ‘ganga’ (the river, of course), while the police station is ‘gangotri’!

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

The phrase ‘miscast in a role’ gets a whole new meaning with Govinda essaying the role of ‘Siddhant’. The character of an honest, headstrong, and supremely fit (flying kicks et al.) would have suited Akshay Kumar or Suniel Shetty just great – but for the chubby Govinda, it is a near-impossible task. He parses his lower lip while mouthing red-hot dialogs, has bloodshot eyes pretty much all along, and cries ‘Yaaaaah’ while bashing up goons, but everything seems a tad too forced. The man is clearly more at ease in the song and dance sequences with Karishma Kapoor – and the two went on to become a superhit pair in the late-’90’s.

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

Speaking of Karishma, she is the quintessential ‘90s heroine in ‘Khuddar’. Apart from the initial assault on her modesty (which, admittedly, was an important element of the story), nothing she says or does is of any real significance to the narrative. Karishma’s eyebrows were in a period of transition during those times – changing from her horrific ‘Prem Qaidi’ days, to the charming ‘Zubeidaa’ style. In ‘Khuddar’, she (probably unwillingly) lets her brows do quite a bit of talking!

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

Why a highly respected veteran actor like Shreeram Lagoo took up the insignificant role of ‘Shastri Suri’ will forever remain a mystery. Anjana Mumtaz, as ‘Siddhant’s mom, has only a couple of inane lines. The baddies – Shakti Kapoor and Mahesh Anand – impress though, particularly the former, nicely portraying his transition from a corrupt-yet-powerless policeman to an all-powerful minister. The nervous and rotten to the core ‘Nandu’ is presented with elan onscreen by Raju Shreshtha. Kader Khan, as the kleptomaniac servant ‘Kanhaiyalal’ hams his way to glory. Rami Reddy is initially unrecognizable in his disguise as ‘Swami’, but you simply cannot miss his trademark Hindi accent.

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

‘Khuddar’ owes a lot of its sparkling theatrical performance and repeat value among hardcore ‘90s Bollywood fans (like yours truly!) to its music. Almost all the compositions of Anu Malik has splendid mass value, with ‘Baby baby’ (the original lyrics were ‘Sexy, sexy’, but the Censor Board intervened) and ‘Tumsa koi pyara koi maasum’ remaining hummable to this day. ‘Woh aankh hi kya’ is a soulful, although slightly underrated, romantic number. The background score is jarring at times. In a rare exceptional moment in the movie, the blind ‘Pooja’ sings while cradling her dead baby. It’s a sequence that haunts.

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

At over two-and-a-half hours of running time, ‘Khuddar’ appears overlong in patches, especially during the post-interval phase. The editing could have been a lot tighter, while the cinematography is nothing to go ga-ga over either. If a leaner, fitter hero was present, the action sequences could have been a highlight – with Govinda, that’s an opportunity lost. But then, maybe if Govinda had not played ‘Siddhant’ here, ‘Khuddar’ might have remained just another ‘90s actioner.

 

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

 

Films like ‘Mehndi’ and ‘Saugandh’ proved later that Iqbal Durrani was not the best storyteller of his times. He should be thankful to Anu Malik’s chartbusters, the hype over one of the most controversial film songs in the entire decade, and, to a lesser extent, to Govinda’s sincere attempt at acting tough – for making ‘Khuddar’ a winner at the box-office.

 

Oh, and are you wondering why I have written ‘Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!’ after every paragraph? Well, that’s the cue for the opening credits to roll in this movie!

 

Opening credits of Khuddar

 

Khuddar ban! Khuddar ban!Khuddar ban!

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