Planet Bollywood
Maa Tujhe Salaam
Producer: Mahendra Dhariwal
Director: Tinu Verma
Starring: Sunny Deol, Tabu, Arbaaz Khan
Music: Sajid-Wajid
Genre: Action
Recommended Audience: General
Film Released on: 25 January 2002
Reviewed by: Anjali Abrol  - Rating: 8.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.1 / 10 (rated by 413 viewers)
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In light of the India-Pakistan tension over, among other things, Kashmir, it comes as no surprise that our infamous Bollywood Hindustani Patriot puttar is out to fight those, at least on screen, who conspire to take away Kashmir from apna desh. Hence, the battle ensued is in all due respect to humara Hindustan, as all rise up to salute our motherland in "Maa Tujhhe Salaam".

Sunny Deol is Major Pratap Singh (hasn┬┤t he had this name before?) of the Indian military who has successfully fought off terrorists on the border and continues to defend his country at all costs. Enter Lala (director Tinu Verma), king of the mountains (of Zhonabad) who basically is bowed-to Thakur who reigns there, coming from generations who ruled there before him, and who basically wants Kashmir to become an independent state. He also invests in terroristic aid from Sudesh Berry, who wants Kashmir for Pakistan. So how does Deol crack down on Lala?

Arbaaz Khan, who plays Albaksh, Lala┬┤s personal gunda, is oblivious to Lala┬┤s crooked ways (as usual...had, say, Mukesh Rishi been cast instead, he would likely know everything, but remember, Arbaaz Khan is still being launched as an upcoming hero in films (yes, still) so he must play an innocent man who is framed) and hence, continues to defend Lala with jest. Upon learning of these atrocious ways, Albaksh wants to do the right thing (upcoming hero...) and lands himself as a framed terrorist and is jailed. *sigh* Now this would definitely have broken out of the norm of Hindi flicks had Albaksh been able to nail Lala right there and the Indian Court System (among other systems) had just listened and believed the poor innocent illiterate commoner (and don┬┤t worry about the 3 hour mark, they could have stretched the jail time and trial for hours, and taken lunch breaks to fit in songs...Tabu does need a role, right...).

Speaking of Tabu, she is Captain Sonia, the intelligence officer who cracks down on Lala and hence gives Deol someone to chase (in Zhonabad). She also gives him some songs to think about...and one of my colleagues pointed out her brilliant clothing changes (uniform to sari and back!), where she used much her intelligence (its hard to master the officer in uniform position to that of a sari-clad dancing singer!).

Deol and Khan (Singh and Albaksh) meet, trade information, and team up to fight against evil... Maa Tujhhe Salaam.

Though the movie may not be venturing on new territory, it was one of the more entertaining ones. Tinu Verma did a good job with his first attempt at direction (whereas some are still trying to hit a good category after many many ┬┤first┬┤ attempts). Sunny Deol, though the master of this sort of role, is just too good. He has the fury and energy (and not to mention the Dharmendra power) by word and action, that very few can match, if any. Tabu is capable of anything at this point and hence this role is not one of her more challenging ones (it would be for, say, Kareena because she isn┬┤t used to wearing clothes) but she still does well with it. Arbaaz Khan is now cut and has the physique to play the Bad Guy┬┤s perfect personal gunda, congrats! He is also a romantic at heart, as we all know but don┬┤t care to see on-screen, but hey, even little sidekicks have big hearts and desire to sing songs too, you know.

Given this is an action flick with patriotic themes, gore is expected and gore is definitely delivered. Some may like it and some may not, but I can┬┤t go one way or another, simply because the violence and gore builds fury for the audience in the movie and action with appropriate drama plays on emotions. These emotions are the the determining factor on how we take certain dialogue, basically how much we get caught up in the movie, and this movie is one that one can easily get caught up in, both in light of recent events and in the movie itself. The breath-taking cinematography of Kashmir reminds us of both how wonderful the place was (prior to bloodshed) and still is, and why we (all sides) are fighting for it.

On the other hand, the music reminds us what we AREN┬┤T fighting for (copies of the albums). Though some tracks are good, others take away from the speed of the film (as in most cases of films, but we are just a very nature-oriented (rain and trees) musical country) and harbors resentment (sort of the ┬┤are we there yet? are we there yet?┬┤ effect). And Malaika Arora prancing around did, at most, give her another guest appearance to add to the growing list on her CV (resume)... right. She┬┤s on the Arbaaz plan, you know, the still working on being ┬┤launched as an upcoming heroine in films┬┤ syndrome, being "fresh" to the industry (sure, compared to Dev Anand...).

In light of some basic flaws that almost all movies suffer from (excessive scenes (love those VCR remotes!) or not-so-captivating jump-of-the-mountain-please-so-can-get-this-song-over-with!), overall, the movie was an action-packed thriller with some brilliant scenes and a brilliant Punjabi Deol puttar to watch.

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