Producer : Narendra Bajaj
Director: K. Murali Mohan Rao
*ing: Jackie Shroff, Salman Khan, Ashwini Bhave, Rambha, Shweta Menon, Shakti Kapoor, Ashok Saraf & Himani Shivpuri
Music: Anand Raaj Anand & Himesh Reshammiya
Released on : October 2, 1998
Reviewed by: Mohammad Ali Ikram
It is tolerable. You may enjoy it in parts and it is often quite unintentionally funny (and crude). But like the film's tag line forewarns, Bandhan is the story of an eternal bond; the eternal bond film makers have to "...been there, seen that before..." situations. The film cannot rise above the common place, because it rarely condemns the negative values it so often upholds.
Ashwini Bhave and Salman Khan Jr. are siblings from a poor family. Due to the elder sister's love for her very young brother, kind-hearted Thakur, Jackie Shroff marries Ashwini and takes the youngster along as part of her dowry. Salman grows up in the house along with Jackie's orphaned sister, Rambha, and lives life on the insipid philosophy of Jeejaji's word being God's word. (He reasons later that God had apparently created him to protect big sis all his life.) Things go awry when Jackie succumbs to the charms of the touring prostitute-dancer clan of Shweta Menon and brother. (At first I thought his weakness was in part due to the fact that his wife of innumerable years had never given him a child, but Jackie's sudden ethical weakness is never explained.)
Shweta wreaks havoc on Jackie's private life as Salman is the only one to rebel against his behavior while everyone including Ashwini and Rambha (who is Salman's love interest) follow the "pair ki joothi" (footwear) treatment in front of Moneybags Shroff. Reels and reels of film, and a purely infantile action climax later, Jackie reforms.
Though it does not sound so, it is an interesting plot, but the director inserts too much eighties style Bollywood commercialism for us to take Bandhan seriously. Ashwini's character seems to live in an eighteenth century time warp where the concept of divorce does not exist. Even when her parents get sick of Jackie and tell her to come home, like a lost bear, she continues to run after her "Pati". The unfortunate South East Asian mentality of the rich-poor divide still exists, but this film never condemns the behavior. It is too busy concerned about re-bonding this family together.
The fact that Bandhan still remains periodically engaging is credited to Rajan Kinagi's simple cinematography, Ashwini Bhave's eternal grace and some intentional and unintentional comic sequences. None of the performances are really remarkable. Jackie continues the transition to supporting actor status, while Ashwini is kind of annoying (though again, graceful) as the eternal doormat cum spouse. Salman repeats the buffoonery of Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya and Rambha joins him in a vulgar display of crudity and unabashed body display for this so-called family film. And of course, Shweta Menon still has little talent to complement her svelte physique.
The songs jump out at the most inopportune times and are quite unengaging in the context of the film. The only noticeable aspects are Rambha's awful dress-sense and her constantly fluctuating weight. She jumps from normal to super-heavy weight scenes from one dress to the next.
The relatively positive numeric rating for Bandhan is attributable to the film it could have been rather than what it actually is, coupled with the fact that this audience member has not seen even a semi-decent movie since Dil Se... (These drought scenarios are becoming too frequent of late.) The film will probably do well in villages and rural areas of India, thanks to Salman's current popularity. However, in terms of memorable film-making, K. Murli Mohan Rao is way off the mark. He has made successful and/or interesting family films before like Anari, Taqdeerwala and Rakhwala but sadly not this time around. Let me be one of the first to break the family bond which is Bandhan.
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