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Film Review
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Producer: Firoz A. Nadiadwala
Director :
Mahesh Bhatt
*ing: Jackie Shroff, Sunjay Dutt, Manisha Koirala, Gulshan Grover
Music: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Anu Malik, Bally Sagoo

Released on : May 07, 1999


Reviewed by: Anish Khanna
anish@indolink.com


out of 

Another 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.

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