*ing : Anil Kapoor Sridevi, Urmila Matondkar, Kader Khan, Farida Jalal, Paresh Rawal, Johnny Lever, Upasna Singh and in a guest appearance Poonam Dhillon
Director: Raj Kanwar
Music: Nadeem-Shravan
Lyrics: Sameer

Reviewed by: Ali Ikram

Rating : (out of )

Judaai is is all respects a perfect Hindi commercial film. The film has a message-based story, great music, dancing, comedy and drama to make it an amazing entertainer. The viewer (this one at least) is left glued to the seat for every minute of both the meaningful and the mindlessness in this film, and not once does one check their watch for the time or run out for a stroll to the washroom.

Of course, this praise does not mean that every single person on the face of this planet will enjoy Judaai. However, based on this reviewer's criteria for a perfect Hindi film, this film is it. (Mind you, my choices of perfect Indian cinema does not always coincide with box office successes.)

For the reader's benefit let me list the things that I thoroughly enjoyed about Judaai, and let you decide whether you want to see the film and/or agree with my viewpoints:

1) The central them of Judaai is GREED, and the story is 'Indianized' perfectly by the script writer from the Hollywood blockbuster 'Indecent Proposal'. In this Hindi version, our central character is a naive mother and wife (Sridevi) who loves her family but far more than these human relationships she values money. The story progresses to reveal to Kajal (Sridevi) that money can never be a substitute for love and companionship in this world.

2) Performances by each and every actor in the film are very good, especially Sridevi, who once again adds a memorable role to her long list of classic portrayals. The reason for the good acting is not simply the actors' hard work, but great script writing and great character development for each and every major player in the film. The main characters are all grey, and more true to life than the black and white cutouts one is accustomed to seeing in most Hindi films. Kajal is motivated by her father's inadequate rearing skills to value money as the be-all-and-end-all in life. Despite repeated refusal from her husband and mother, she forces him (very realistically) to marry again so she can earn Rs. 2 crore from his second wife.

Anil Kapoor's character, Kajal's husband, loves his wife too much and although this type of man rarely exists in the real world, it is a great character. The audience is shown the dangers of loving too much and letting others rule your life (more representative of a woman's role in Indian society).

Jhanvi Sahni (Urmila) is a rich but parentless child who learns the difference between buying people and earning love in the world. She is not evil (in fact far from it) but she definitely does not recognize the limits of societal dos and don'ts.

You cannot despise any of these characters in the film. Sure, in the interval I heard eveyone call Sridevi 'stupid' a million times, but it is more anger at the individual's lack of 'intelligence' and common sense. We know why Kajal loves money so much (her father), so we cannot blame here directly for the her greed.

3) The audience is permitted to slowly intake the high level of drama in the film through perfectly timed breaks of comedy and music. The music though not as great as say Khamoshi: The Musical, but is still very good, and the song picturisations are mind-blowing. 'Judaai, Judaai' is filched again from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, but the video is remniscent of a Yash Chopra film and we forgive the music directors' plagiarism. 'Oee Baba Oee Baba' and ' Mujeh Pyar Hua' are also brilliantly shot outdoor dances (the former on the streets Las Vegas).

Great comedy sequences are also provided by Johnny Lever, Paresh Rawal and Kader Khan to give some respite from the drama and to prevent the proceedings from getting too heavy on the audience. (The Indian masses do not appreciate being too depressed by a film.)

4) Technically, the film is also brilliant. Cinematography by Harmeet Singh is beautiful and locations are pircturesque. Dance movements by Saroj Khan are fresh for a change (witness 'Mujhe Pyar Hua' and 'Ooee Baba').

And of course, the director Raj Kanwar after superhits such as Deewana, Laadla and Jeet, once again demonstrates his brilliant grasp over the commercial Hindi film medium.

One might feel I am overemphasizing the brilliance of Judaai (I feel that way about Shakespeare also). Oh well, to each his own. Here is hoping that Judaai is a super-success, and more great masala movies along the lines of Judaai in the near future.

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