Director: Rakesh Roshan
*ing : Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Amrish Puri, Deepshikha, Ranjeet, Himani Shivpuri, Johnny Lever, Ashok Saraf, Kunika
Music : Rajesh Roshan

Reviewed by: Ali Ikram

Rating : (out of )

Special Note: This Movie is not recommended for viewers under the age of 17

I should start off by being frank. I am neither a Madhuri Khan or Shahrukh Khan fanatic: there is precisely one film of each of these stars in which I have really enjoyed their performances. Madhuri was pure magic in 'Khel' (a massive flop but really entertaining film which by coincidence was also directed by Rakesh Roshan) and Shahrukh was graciously restrained and quite likeable in Aditya Chopra's 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge'. I can't say I liked these two artistes performances in any of their other films, hit or not, because that would be a humongous lie. However, I have started to appreciate Madhuri's acting capabilities recently and am eagerly awaiting her upcoming 'Mrityu Dand', 'Pukaar' and 'Dil To Paagal Hai'. Shahrukh Khan; it is best that I not comment too much on him. There's always a glimmer of hope for the future. (For instance, I never used to acknowledge Salman as a good actor either until I saw his amazing performances in Khamoshi and Judwaa.)

Another point to note is that 'Koyla' is by no means a family film. It has been wisely rated 'A' by the Indian Censor Board, which restricts admission to people over the age of eighteen in India. I wish our local theaters in Toronto and theaters all over the world would also bar at least the pre-teens from seeing this film. Considering the hordes of people in line for 'Koyla', they won't lose too much money. The reason behind my logic is the gratuitous and graphic violence in the film, coupled with two very distasteful and titillating rape scenes.

Having made my initial point on the film you can tell that 'Koyla' disturbed me as a viewer. And I don't mean that in the positive sense. Rakesh Roshan is a very capable director, but to appeal to the 'chavanni' crowd, he has packed this film with so much violence and vulgarity, that one churns in anguish in their seats. The film isn't really bad (far from it), but it is by no means, really good.

'Koyla', like last year's 'Khilona', is an adaptation of the English film 'Revenge'. This version is the story of a young woman (Madhuri) who is tricked into marriage with an old geezer (Amrish Puri), but falls in love with his mute slave (Shahrukh). The couple must escape the clutches of the bad man and his evil brother, but is caught in a 'Trimurti' reminiscent run through the jungle. She is put in a 'tawaif's kotha', but remains a sati savitri for the hero. (I think because of 'Prem Granth' flopped Rakesh feels that ONLY our heroine can't be raped by any of the villains, lest the audience rejects her as a decent woman.) In the meanwhile, the hero is brought back to life after plunging off a cliff and landing in a tree, by the good old magic-weavers who reside in the woods. Shahrukh also miraculously regains his voice and discovers that must also take revenge against his master for killing his parents when he was small. So he rescues his lady love and kills off the baddies.

The story is not great, but the film does have a great look. The cinematography and dances sequences are a visual treat, and they, along with certain scenes and the performances, lift the film above the banal.

Performances also are pretty good. Having read the introduction to this review, you might have thought I'd trash the principal actors but I did like some of the performances. Shahrukh has come up with an okay performance, far better than his monkey-like antics in 'Ram Jaane' and 'Chaahat'. Unfortunately, he is nowhere near as good a mute as Nana Patekar was in 'Khamoshi'. Like I said, let us give it some time and he'll probably stun me again with a great performance in the future. (Most likely in Yash Chopra's 'Dil To Paagal Hai' or Subhash Ghai's 'Pardes'.)

Madhuri was pretty good, but her character needed more development, and I actually wanted to see more of her in the film. This lady is very talented, but she has never done a decent film where she is the center of attention (and that included 'Beta' and 'Raja'). Once again looking forward to her future performances.

Amrish Puri starts off as a riot as the buddha villain Raja, but his repeated "Bloody Phool" and other screwy English lines really taxed my nerves by the end of the film. At least the kid beside me thought it was funny all the time.

Deepshikha, a new actress, who plays Amrish Puri's secretary in the film (and is raped repeatedly) stunned me with a really good performance. This lady is a natural, and barring her penchant to reveal her assets at the drop of a hat, she could have been heroine-worthy material. Actually, this is the role that should have been given to Madhuri, and it should have been the central character in the film. (The heroine doesn't always need to get the hero.)

Madhuri could have really done wonders with Deepshikha's role, as long as in developing the film around this character, Rakesh did not add more rape scenes to attract the front-benchers. (Why must you show me the villain ripping the clothes off a woman? Sounds of screaming, while showing disgust on an-lookers face would be far more effective and proper to convey this repulsive act.)

Anyways enough about the film's negative virtues, it is still a time-pass film. Please, just don't take little kids to 'Koyla'. The gruesome violence and sexual overtones will distort the impressionable mind of a youngster.

Would you like to contribute? Please contact assteditor@indolink.com to send in a review.