Saturday, April 18, 2015

Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja

This week, I finally decided to watch a film that I had been waiting to see for a long time — Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja. The film was released in 1993 and its claim to fame was that it was the most expensive film ever made at that time. The film bombed at the box office, took too long to complete, and Shekhar Kapur left the film midway because he thought that the film lacked soul. Despite all these, I wanted to watch the film and I totally loved it. I felt the film had all the things present in a typical potboiler film, from comedy, action, drama, suspense to mystery. I really enjoyed the film and the film again shows the terrific acting prowess of Sridevi, whose expressions are simply priceless.

The film is the story of Jugraal played by Anupam Kher. He is known for smuggling diamonds. In one of his operations, he kills a customs officer and a doctor. The customs officer's son grows up into Romeo (Anil Kapoor) and Seema (Sridevi), who plan to revenge the killing of their fathers. Both of them are thieves. They are unaware that it is Jugraal who killed their fathers. Jugraal had also killed his idealistic twin brother Manmohan Lal and taken his identity. Thus, to the world, Jugraal is an honest man, but in reality, he is a smuggler. Jugraal entices Seema that he would let her know the identity of her father's killer, if she can convince Romeo to rob a train of diamonds worth Rs. 100 crores. Romeo does manage to get the diamonds. They eventually find out the truth that Jugraal is actually the killer of their father and they try to kill him. 

The story is a bit complicated in parts, but eventually one figures out what is going to happen. But what is more interesting is the treatment and the execution. The film tries to be logical in parts, and some sequences are excellently done, but of course, the fun part is in the theater of the absurd, which are even more entertaining. The villain Jugraal wears a robe, carries a wand, and always repeats his pet phrase, 'Shaitan Ki Kasam'. Clearly, this film was so ahead of its times. Before Harry Potter popularized the magical wands and evil sorcerers, we had our very own version of Lucius Malfoy. The villain's den gives us some more insights. At one point, Jugraal says that other people like fish, but he is fan of turtles. At various points, we see turtles painted in his den. Each villain in Hindi cinema has its own quirks, for instance Shakaal in Shaan kept crocodiles in his lair, or Mogambo in Mr. India had this habit of repeating himself in third person when he was happy by saying 'Mogambo khush hua.' The premise of turtle is interesting. In many ways, a turtle has the ability to survive on both land and water. Perhaps, in some ways, Jugraal's liking for turtle can be explained by his own ability to adapt easily to his two identities at his will. He can become Manmohan to the outside world, and can become Jugraal to carry out his nefarious activities. 

Lucius Malfoy

Romeo also performs a musical show. The building where he sings reminded me a lot of the the building where Sahir performed his circus in Dhoom 3

It is absolutely wonderful to see the delightful way Sridevi emotes. She is exceptional in the Roop Ki Rani song. Again, the song was as fun as Hawa Hawaai from Mr. India, except for a weird scene shown below. There is another song in the film Jaanewale Zara Ruk Ja that is reminiscent of Kaante Nahi Katate from Mr. India.

Oh, those expressions.

Cat dance?

The film also teaches us what does a kiss mean i.e. meeting of the lips before Rani popularised it in Queen by her delightful blushing by saying lip-to-lip kiss. 

Before Aamir Khan became PK became in PK, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja had someone called PK Bhedanga, again, shows this film was so ahead of its time :)

This was my favorite sequence in the film. Romeo and Seema come to steal an Egyptian statue. Romeo comes dressed as Prince Singh Batata of Matunga who keeps saying Dhongri Batala because that is the way people in Matunga salute. Seema comes dressed as Princess China Chini of Chinch Pokli and she keeps on saying Chaandi Ka Chamcha because that is how they say hello in Chinch Pokli. And, the film informs us that Chinch Pokli is a country located between China, Chile and Cherapunji. I would love to go to this Chinch Pokli. Romeo and Seema then try to outwit each other to steal the statue and the sequence is hilarious. The song is so much fun and I can watch it again and again.

Romeo has a fascination for pigeons. He names his pigeons after famous villains, for example, Gabbar and Mogambo. But his favorite pigeon is Jango, who helps him whenever Romeo is in some danger. The pigeon steals jewelery, helps identify the number of the criminal's car, rescues Romeo and Seema from falling in a tank of acid, and comes at the most crucial point in the climax to save everyone from the evil hands of the villains. Jango is another star in the film and gets more screen time than Jackie Shroff and some other characters. Jango would be on the list of the best animal-bird characters in Hind films. At one point, Romeo says to Jango to stop behaving like pigeons, and Rangbirangey Lal even recommends that he should be made a constable. Yes, of course, why not :)

The picture below only for the priceless expression of the man holding the umbrella. 

My most favorite song in the film in the title song Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja. The song is choreographed by Arshad Warsi. Who would have thought that Arshad Warsi could have choreographed the song? At one point in the song, that shows us the sheer awesomeness of Hindi films to do anything, Romeo's eyes beam out laser and open a set of jewelry locks. This is just amazing. 

In Hindi films, anything is possible

And, then we see why this movie was called as the most expensive. The money that was spent is visible such as the scene with illuminated guitars.

This subtitle reminded me of Class 11th Chemistry lectures. Electrophilic aromatic substitution of benzene ring. 

Romeo escapes by asking the guards to become a murga, yes, anything can happen here.

The train robbery sequence is nicely done. Farah Khan made Tees Maar Khan taking some elements from this, too.

In another scene, Romeo shoots at the helicopter with a rifle and the entire helicopter blows away. Yes, the entire helicopter.

Without a doubt, my most favorite character in the film is Rangbirangey Lal played by Johny Lever. He is simply amazing in the film and I realized how much I miss watching him in films. He plays a constable who is always reading film magazines and keeps imitating all the actors. His imitation of Raj Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha, Sanjeev Kumar, Ashok Kumar, and Dharmender is brilliant. Perhaps, that explains his name as Rangbirangey — the ability to mimic different actors of various shades and colors.

Johny Lever is the best. 

At one point, there is a poster of M. Karunanidhi. He still looks the same.

The graffiti on the walls, extra brownie points because it says 'Pankaj Love Pinki' (sic).

Pankaj Love Pinky

The film spent so much money on the costumes and each song has too many costume changes. But without a doubt, they are simply fascinating. I really liked the costumes. I can watch the songs just for them. Parda Utha is also beautifully choreographed. 

I don't care if this film bombed and got terrible reviews but I completely enjoyed this film. In a case of co-incidence, the day I finished watching it, Sridevi tweeted that it was twenty two years to the film. I mean it is not that famous a film and suddenly it shows up everywhere you see. Sometimes, things can be creepy :)

Dialogue of the day:
"Mohabbat insaan se kya nahi karva sakti."
— Jugraal, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja

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