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Film Review
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Producer: N.R. Pachisia
Director:
Rahul Rawail
*ing: Sunny Deol, Juhi Chawla, Saurabh Shukla, Mukesh Rishi, Ashish Vidhyarthi, Annu Kapoor & Special Appearance by Daler Mehndi
Music: Dilip Sen Sameer Sen

Released on : August 20, 1999
Approximate Running Time:  2 hours, 30 minutes


Reviewed by: Mohammad Ali Ikram
ali@indolink.com


out of 
So I am not a huge Rahul Rawail fan... what to do?  The fact is I will give every film a fair chance to prove itself no matter who the director is.  And Rawail has surprised me before... once.  1986's Dacait is near classical in execution and I will recommend that movie to anyone wanting to catch up on a great action drama.  Arjun Pandit on the other hand, is a little better than most of the director's movies.  Parts are great and parts are horrible, and as a whole, the film amounts several notches above the average Bollywood actioner. 

Arjun Dixit (Sunny Deol) is a simpleton yoga teacher in some nook and cranny corner of India.  (Geography was never one of my interests.  Forget that though.  Someone tell me how many universities in India teach yoga as a post-secondary credit?)  For the most part, the guy has got a see not, hear not attitude towards any evil around him.  Problems arise when Nisha Sharma, the gorgeous but dolled up like a 12-year old Juhi Chawla, enters his life.  Nisha incites Arjun to fight against their oppresors, but at the most critical point of his awakening, she leaves him hanging high and dry.  And since we knew the guy was always a little bonkers, Arjun spends the rest of the flick trying to reclaim his 'love'.  While doing all this, he is simultanously being used as an angry pawn by the leaders of the Mumbai underworld, who have rechristened him Pandit. 

The story had potential as a nonsensical entertainer, but the execution is really weak at times.  One wonders why Rawail keeps throwing in periodic lessons and attempts at reality in to the movie.  Mr. Rawail, themes against violence and vengeance are far better exploited through rawer movies like Satya and Virasat.  Pandit works best when it transports us to never-never-land.  When it tries to mix reality and la-la-land, the film is near laughable.   I am being petty but watching the hero and heroine roll around their village on a rickety bicycle is too funny for words, even though we know Arjun is not very rich.  For our sanity's sake, we would rather he at least had a motorcycle to roam the streets with his lady-love. 

On the other hand, witness the near dementia of Pandit's shocking climax (and most other action scenes).  It was almost brilliant (and creepy) to support the ending blood and gorefest with the "Kahaan Jaye Koyi" tune in the background.   Very apt and perfect in explaining Nisha's confusion, one wishes the whole film could have maintained this kind of connection with the audience.  The violence in the movie is strong and effective, but the dialogues (save a few) are most often not.  (The raining rickshaws car chase was tons of fun.)

The inappropriate actors' get-ups (both Juhi's and Sunny's) have already been mentioned and frankly speaking, they hamper the punch of most of the film's village sequences.  However, the film also fails in miscasting the very strong personality of Sunny Deol in the lead role.  Deol may be annoying when he is always yelling in his movies, but he is further out to sea portraying an innocent and simple-minded bloke like Dixit, particularly now, when the guy is in his forties.  (Wish producers would think more carefully about the age needs of their film's characters when signing middle-aged men and and women for youngsters' roles.)  Juhi is great during the climax as already mentioned, but her character lacks real depth and understandability for the audience to say it is a great performance.  Nisha's character deserved to have been better-written, but Juhi makes the best of what she is given.

There is plenty of beautiful scenery (including the heroine herself) in the love duets and our hearts to be won over, but I must say that Ms. Chawla absolutely stuns with her looks of elegance and etherealness in "O Priya Sun O Priya".   Doesn't hurt that she seems to be seducing the camera more than Sunny in that one tune.

The film's remaining technical credits are pretty good also.  The camera-work is colourful and vibrant, the sign of a polished product and the background score is also consistently impressive.  You might want a dictionary for some of the pure Hindi dialogues early on between Nisha and Arjun, but they are not very integral to the plot.

If you are astute like me - just kidding - you will note another important fact about Arjun Pandit.  This film works moderately well, on and off throughout, but the climax is what makes the film a touch above average.  Rahul Rawail's last film, Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, worked at times also, but the climax was absolute lunacy and unconvincing.  Rawail's worked hard at rectifying his previous mistake and has come up with a far better movie, but one fact remains.  Arjun Pandit is no Dacait

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