Producer: Nitin Manmohan
Director: Anees Bazmee
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Akshaye Khanna, Urmila Matondkar, Seema Biswas, Suhasini Mulay, Farida Jalal, Suresh Oberoi
Music: Ismail Darbar
Lyrics: Salim Bijnori & Nusrat Badr

Genre: Thriller
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Released on: October 25, 2002
Approximate Running Time: 2hr 45min
Reviewed by: Mandeep Bahra
Reviewer's Rating: 7 out of 10


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Director Anees Bazmee seems to have developed a penchant for remaking Hollywood flicks. His last film, Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha, was almost a scene for scene rip-off of French Kiss. Giving away the plot of this thriller is not my intention, but Deewangee is heavily inspired from the Richard Gere, Edward Norton starrer, Primal Fear.

Raj Goel (Akshaye Khanna) is a hot-shot lawyer, famous for never having lost a case and also publicly vocal about his belief in truth and justice. He is so engrossed in his career that he hasn’t yet selected a bride, much to his mother’s (Farida Jalal) dismay. Never fear, Sargam (Urmila) is about to sing and dance her way into Raj’s heart.

Sargam is the hottest chart-topping singer around and Raj falls for her at a music company bash. At this party, we are also introduced to the owner of the music company, Ashwin Mehta (Vijayendra Ghatge) and his music composer brother, Abhijeet (Nirmal Pandey). Ashwin is later found brutally murdered and a suspect is caught literally red-handed (from all the blood, you see). The suspect happens to be Sargam’s childhood friend and "guru", Tarang Bhardwaj (Ajay Devgan), who is a struggling music director. Sargam then pleads with Raj to defend her childhood friend, which he does for free, obviously with the intent of getting to know her better.

Why was Ashwin Mehta murdered? Is Tarang guilty? If you’ve seen Primal Fear, you’ll have a fair idea of where this story is heading. Ajay Devgan takes on the challenging task of essaying a role that garnered Ed Norton an Oscar nomination. Does he succeed? To an extent, but post interval he lapses back into his trademark ‘three-words-at-a-time’ pattern of speech. Urmila is fantastic in the song sequences, as expected. However, she is unbearably annoying whenever she has to convey distress or fear, which is most of the time, unfortunately. The pre-interval court case is well handled and some of the secondary character artistes, such as Seema Biswas, Suhasini Mulay and Suresh Oberoi are enjoyable to watch.

The obligatory love triangle woven into the original story is not too much of a hindrance to the enjoyment factor. However, the love triangle gets more attention in the second half when the plot goes haywire (having now abandoned the ‘Primal Fear’ template). Clichés are showered on the unsuspecting audience and the action leads to a climax that borrows heavily from John Woo films. I suspect budgetary constraints are responsible for Woo’s trademark white doves being replaced by pigeons, but hey, that’s probably more realistic for India.

Akshaye Khanna is the highlight of the film! Despite being saddled with what is conventionally the second lead, he manages to rise above all his co-stars and the clichés. While most critics will praise Ajay Devgan´s performance, it is actually Akshaye’s portrayal of Raj Goel that deserves the kudos. Raj is not the goody-two-shoes you expect him to be, and his ability to beat the bad guy at his own game by playing a little dirty makes him more believable.

Ismail Darbar’s music is put to good use and combined with Vaibhavi Merchant’s choreography, the songs are a visual and audible treat. Amar Mohile’s background score is suitably dark and chilling for the more macabre portions of the film, but the more conventional scenes seem to be decorated with stock, formulaic music.

Technically, the film is very good. If only Anees Bazmee had kept a tighter reign on the script in the second half, Deewangee may have been amazing. All in all, Deewangee provides some good entertainment for the weekend, but it won’t be winning any awards.