Beti No. 1  
Producer: Raajiv Kumar
Director: T. Rama Rao
Starring: Govinda, Rambha, Aroona Irani, Johnny Lever
Music: Viju Shah
Lyrics: Maya Govind, Dev Kohli

Released on: November 10, 2000
Approximate Running Time:
Reviewed by: Anjali Abrol
Reviewer's Rating: 3 out of 10

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T. Rama Rao's latest film, years and years in the making, Beti No. 1, does nothing for us but free up another videotape to record over. Beti No. 1 was originally supposed to be made as Chiraag (the audio even releasing) and was shot with Rishi Kapoor. Then again, it is also said that Beti No. 1 was renamed and canned as another film. Either way, it makes no difference, the movie was on the right track when it was canned the first time.

The family consists of the head of the household, the heavy-handed, girl-hating, filthy rich Durga Devi (Aroona Irani), (the name being so ironic), her submissive husband Dashrath (Prem Chopra), her father, her three sons, wimpy Ram (Ashok Saraf), whiny Laxman (Laxmikant Berde), and hero Bharat (Govinda) and their wives (the first two of the three sons are married), and a lot of granddaughters, all of whom she refuses to acknowledge. Durga Devi is so angered by her bahus bearing girls (as if, medically-speaking, it is really the bahu's fault.), that she has sent them back to their family's homes, since such incompetent, shameful women are not needed in her home. Maybe she should have sent her own incompetent sons out of the house, since they are the deciding gene contributor to the sex of the child. But hey, that's India for you, it's always the woman's fault. Almost makes you wonder how Durga Devi managed three sons and no daughters, with her attitude...female infanticide, anyone?

Durga Devi is sure that her last-born brat, Bharat, will provide for her a plethora, or at least one, son, giving her the potha she always dreamed of and even got ill due to a lack of one. Bharat falls for, of all people, Rambo, I mean Rambha, as Priya, when they are dancing at some performance (don't you wonder HOW they and their troupes knew exactly one another's steps to coordinate such a well-synchronized dance WITHOUT ever meeting beforehand?). Priya plays the typical poor girl who works in a telephone booth-like store, and he chases her and decides to marry her, with only one problem. Dragon Demon (his mother) isn't going to accept a poor girl into the family for standard reasons we all know about. Hence, he plots with his good friend and neighbor, Mulayamchand (Johnny Lever), a.k.a. private eye. They trick the family into accepting her, even sending dowry from Bharat, through Priya's family, back to Dhaku Devi. D.D. finds out pretty quickly, and makes Priya a slave.

Meanwhile, Devil Devi's two stupid sons, Ram and Laxman (they really should not have misused the names as they did), are going crazy over trying to take over her inheritance, all of whom she will pass on only to her grandson; so smart as they are, they keep the population problem going by repeatingly trying for a son (poor wives!). Bharat comes along with his friend Mulay and enter the race, meaning that both of their wives incidentally get pregnant at the same time. The rest of the movie is predictable... Mulay has a son, Bharat, a daughter, they switch since everyone thinks they are having a son, and amazingly, D.D. gets ill exactly when Priya and Mulay's wife deliver, and miraculously wakes back up to life when her 'grandson' is born and brought to her, Priya is treated by D.D. as a queen, and the rest of the film is made up of how Mulay and his wife, along with Bharat and Priya, work together in crazy antics to keep the truth from Deadly Demon, and how the truth unfolds.

The way the movie unfolds has some funny scenes, some clever ones, and some really unnecessary and dragging ones. Oh, and due to Mulay's detective work, there are villians in the movie, adding another unneeded angle, prolonging the film even more.

Acting-wise, Govinda was up-to-par, which is expected. Rambha was pathetic and did not play her role well at all, but I didn't much expect her to, either. But hey, with such a tight budget, I suppose you take what you can get for a few Rupees. Though she has no talent nor looks, the role for mother, of all roles, was way too off for her. Aroona Irani was overwhelming, as was her perfectly black wig, and the two brothers were competent since they were so stupid and were supposed to be. Prem Chopra gave a good, calm performance. The person who stood out was Johnny Lever, who normally is very overwheleming and brash, but kept a more controlled demeanor throughout the film, making some really good interactions/ scenes/dialogues with Govinda.

Songs weren't so bad but the choreography, clothing, and shots were boring, which is typical of Govinda films who have nameless, random, just-aise directors. Cinematography was nothing great, and the film had such an aged aura about it, making the film a turn-off as a whole. In pieces, the film had several good, funny scenes, but together, as a whole, it was too dramatic and too much to digest, even for the most accepting of audiences...unfortunately, even before release, Beti No. 1 seemed to have flop written all over it.... and watching the movie didn't prove the prediction otherwise.