Producer: Firoz A. Nadiadwala
Director : Mahesh Bhatt
*ing: Jackie Shroff, Sunjay Dutt, Manisha Koirala, Gulshan
Music: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Anu
Malik, Bally Sagoo
Released on : May 07, 1999
Reviewed by: Anish Khanna
film from Mahesh Bhatt? Wasn't "Zakhm" touted as his
swan song? If you decide to venture out and actually watch "Kartoos", you will
understand why Mr. Bhatt would much rather be remembered by the former film.
"Kartoos" was actually started before "Zakhm" but has taken longer to
complete. Now there is nothing wrong with doing a film in the action genre. In fact, I
thoroughly enjoyed Bhatt's last action flick - "Angaaray".
Even when compared to "Angaaray", however, "Kartoos" falls very short.
The film opens with a synopsis of the crimes of Jeet Balraj (Sunjay Dutt), a killer on death row. Inspector Jai
Suryavansh (Jackie Shroff) devises a plan
whereby Jeet's execution is faked, and Jeet is forced to help the police out in their
mission to capture an international criminal (Gulshan Grover).
Jeet is unaware that he is to be killed by Jai after nabbing the criminal. Jeet is given a
haircut, a new eye color, and a new name - Raja. While traveling on his mission to London
(which looks NOTHING like the London I've been to), Jeet meets Minnie (Manisha Koirala), a sardarni going to
London to have her marriage arranged. Minnie and Jeet coincidentally end up being
neighbors in London, and when things go wrong with the guy intended for her marriage, Jeet
comes to Minnie's rescue. The two, naturally, lose their heart to each other. Jai gets
wind of the affair and is furious that Jeet is doing something other than killing the
baddies, so he shows up in London and threatens to reveal Jeet's past (and present
mission) to Minnie. Jeet, now fed up with a life of crime, is emotionally blackmailed by
Jai into killing the international criminal. With the mission complete, Jai decides that
he must now kill Jeet. Does he?
As far as strengths go, this film has one big one - performances.
Sunjay Dutt's characterization is weak. One minute he is shown as an insane criminal with
no regard for human life, and the next minute he is shown dancing on a large scale piano
with Jai (a la the film "Big") in what is one of the most poorly executed
character transitions in Hindi film history. Yet, nonetheless, Sunjay manages to perform
with complete conviction. This is easily his strongest performance since his post-jail
return to films. Jackie also gives a good performance - especially when it comes to the
grayish, obsessive shades of his character. It actually made me excited at the prospect of
what Jagguda might do in a well-etched, completely negative role. Manisha Koirala is
gorgeous, entertaining, and heartwarming as the Punjabi girl traveling to London for her
suitor. Not only does she excel at the emotional scenes, but her comic timing, despite
poor dubbing synchronization, is quite good. And she manages to pull off the bhangra
number without revealing her infamous two left feet.
The film itself, however, is lacking in almost every other department. The
biggest drawback is that there is very little focus. The scenes shift in a rather awkward
manner, and the continuity between scenes is lacking. Bhatt does a great job with the more
emotional scenes (his forte), but the action sequences are for the most part too numerous,
tedious, and contrived. Songs are haphazardly strewn over the film. The much-touted,
expensive computer-generated graphics number is placed at such a moment that it is
difficult to appreciate or enjoy it despite superb choreography (Farha Khan) and execution
(Sunjay). The surreal picturization is also out-of-place with respect to the rest of the
film. The cinematography is decent but becomes noteworthy in only the South Africa
portions of the film.
This is one film that is best swept under the carpet. Mahesh Bhatt does
not need it in his repertoire, nor does he need to be remembered by this film. As "Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan" is being readied for a cable
release, it is rather sad to think that the director of such classics as "Naam", "Saaransh",
"Arth", and "Zakhm"
will technically have "Kartoos" as his last official cinematic release. One
hopes that Mr. Bhatt does not fulfill his promise of renouncing direction and returns
quickly to what he usually does best.