Planet Bollywood

Anari No 1
Producer: Aroona Irani
Director: Kuku Kohli
Starring: Govinda, Raveena Tandon, Simran, Kader Khan, Aroona Irani, Satish Shah, Prem Chopra, Himani Shivpuri & Special Appearance by Johny Lever
Music: Dilip Sen Sameer Sen & Aadesh Shrivastava
Lyrics: Dev Kohli
Genre: Comedy
Recommended Audience: General
Film Released on: 09 April 1999
Reviewed by: Mohammad Ali Ikram  - Rating: 8.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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Thank the gods of Hindi cinema.  (No, there is no such thing.  I mean it in a purely figurative and superficial way.)  After eons of romantic drivel, here comes a movie that will have you smiling and relaxing at its unformulaicness.  Yes, it is true.  It is an adapted melange of the time-tested Prince and the Pauper story, but the treatment is 100ure Bollywood fun.  Govinda has his hands on the comedic pulse of cinemagoers and this time he scores high marks not with David Dhawan, but a nonetheless talented Kuku Kohli, at the helm.

Raja (Govinda) is a slick-witted waiter at a five-star hotel.   His aspirations of making it big one day win over the heart of tycoon K.K.-saab (Kader Khan), who takes the young lad under his wing to help waiter-boy become a mega-millionaire.  Too bad waiter-boy falls in love with the trendy housemaid, Sapna (Raveena Tandon looking as gorgeous as ever), thinking she is the girl of his dreams.  Some harmless deception later, the trio of Raja, Sapna and Satar (Satish Shah), Raja´s car thieving buddy, reluctantly set out for a grandiose money earning scheme.  You see, there lives a rich Raja look-alike named Rahul Saxena, in another part of the city and he certainly would not mind parting with a few lakhs to help our poor trio would he?   The bumbling team of novice criminals goes about kidnapping Mr. Moneybags and Raja will take his place for a few days to displace a few lakhs from the Saxena family loot.   The condition is that Rahul-saab will be treated with the utmost of respect during his temporary confinement.  Things begin going awry when Satar unknowinlgy steels the mobile home van of a ruthless kidnapper villain (Aroona Irani´s real-life brother whose name escapes my memory) in order to house the kidnapee.  And when Raja takes temporary shelter in the home of his humshakal, the family´s innocence and kind-heartedness get the best of him.  How could he have even ever thought of ripping of Maa (Aroona Irani), Paa and the rest of the wholesome bunch?  As Raja´s conscience returns, so does the arch-villain, to reclaim his stolen van.  Oh, oh!  Trouble lies ahead.

It is a known fact that no one does comedy lick Chichi, but his success has always depended on a good director and dialogues at the helm.  Anari No.1 gives Govinda-saab both, and he runs a laugh-riot marathon with the opportunity.  His impressions of past screen icons are a treat for movie buffs as is the impeccable timing of his dialogue delivery.  To ensure that the film has enough comedy to last a life-time, Johny Lever gifts us an unforgettable special appearance in a Daler Mehndi wannabe.  His role and scenes are incidental to the story, but it would not have been anywhere near this good without it.  (Wish everyone had a Johny Lever in their homes.  Life would be just much more fun.)

Raveena and Simran have little to do other than look good, as the two Govinda molls, but they do excel at this ´role´.  Aroona Irani is as loving and motherly as ever (and she should be raking in the moolah as producer of this concoction in the near future).  And Satish Shah makes a unintrusive and welcome foil to the hero´s antics. 

The rest of the cast is adequate.  Not outstanding, nor below-average.  Heck, with so much acting competition, do you think they´d have a chance?

Kader Khan´s dialogues are perfect for the film.  And for this geniuses critics, let me add that the vulgarity is minimized in the dialogue.  (There is toilet humour in the opening sequence, but if we can call it family entertainment when Jim Carrey does it, we should be fair to Kader-saab as well.) 

Critically speaking, there are a few scenes where the film drags a couple of minutes, particularly when the melodrama starts.  However, Kuku-saab knows the limitations and risks of pulling the audience´s heart-strings too much at the end of the movie - it makes the film loose impact - so back comes Johny Lever-saab for a senseless, but tons of fun reprieve of the earlier appearance.  (Note that Lever´s appearance is perfectly balanced with the movie, so that it does not get annoying à la Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehate Hain.)

The juvenile dances and music are perfect for the atmosphere.  It´s the type of stuff I think is perfect for this kind of movie, but it will have pseuds thinking it is offensive and uncreative.  Let them say what they want.  The masses will love the dances and songs in the context of the movie... kurta phadh ke.

I always had a hunch that Kuku Kohli would be a good comedic director; I was right.  His debut mega-hit as director of Ajay Devgan´s launch, Phool Aur Kaante, had everyone stunned.  (That film still has one of Amrish Puri´s best career performances.)   And he´s balanced it well with a series of moderate actions suceesses thereafter.   However, comedy and serious drama, I believe, are going to be the genres which Kohli will be remembered for in the future.  (Wish his long-delayed Charitra, with Manisha and Urmila would get off the ground to prove my assertion of his dramatic forte.  Doubtful though as the producer, Subhash Ghai, seems to have moved on to other projects.)     Kohli´s proved, with Anari No.1, that he can really give David Dhawan a run for his money.  That´s great, cause we need more ´real´ comedic directors in Bollywood... kurta phadh ke

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