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Film Review
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Producer: Boney Kapoor
Director:
Rajkumar Santoshi
*ing: Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Namrata Shirodkar, Om Puri, Rohini Hattangadi, Farida Jalal, Sivaji Satam, Govind Namdev, Mukesh Rishi, Danny Denzongpa & Special Appearance by Lata Mangeshkar
Music: A.R. Rahman

Released on : February 04, 2000


Reviewed by: Anish Khanna
anish@indolink.com


out of 
Move over Hollywood! Bollywood is now on the map... To think that an Indian maker could use an Indian unit to make a Hindi espionage thriller that would be both gripping and entertaining would seem like an unimaginable task. Boney Kapoor and R K Santoshi, however, have done just that. "Pukar" is the first action thriller that has been churned out of Bollywood that actually is on par in effects, thrills, and chills with international cinema. Of course, it is "Hindi-phillum"-ized, but still - the film turns out to be a real class act while remaining within the frame work of commercial cinema. The effects here are not necessily decipherable; there are no lame paper mache set; and the action sequences - though complete with the trite "dishum-dishum" sound effects - are novel.

Contrary to popular belief, the film bares very little semblence to the American "True Lies". The story revolves around Major Jai (Anil Kapoor), a celebrated officer who gains respect from catching the terrorist Abhrush (Danny). Major Jai falls for Miss India - cum - supermodel Pooja (Namrata Shirodkar), but has his best friend Anjali (Madhuri Dixit) longing for his affections. In order to break off Pooja and Jai, Anjali is manipulated by the forces of evil to steal a top secret code from Jai's files. This leads to Jai's suspension, after which Pooja is forbidden by her parents to meet Jai and runs away from him on a foreign assignment. Jai's life spirals towards destruction until Anjali feels the pain of guilt and decides to try to atone for the crime she's committed.

Let me say one thing first - I am not by any means a fan of Madhuri Dixit. Let me say another thing - she is phenomenal in this film. Her character has a gamut of emotions to run through - childish immaturity, obsession, evil, anger, anguish - and Madhuri really sinks her teeth into each one. (She probably wasn't sinking her teeth into much else the way she's lost so much weight). She is magical in the dance sequences (mainly "Que Sera Sera" and the haunting "Hai Jaana") but even more amazing in the dialogue sequences. Of course Anil Kapoor matches her scene for scene in his performance, and the chemistry between them is a real treat. Namrata Shirodkar is pretty much wasted here. She looks good in "Sunta Hai", but when you start the song with a drenched, svelte Madhuri, who even really notices Namrata? Bad career move... Rohini Hattangadi is another standout as Pooja's South Indian Vrinda Rai look-alike mother.

The action sequences, though quickly paced like the film, are tremendous for a Hindi film - with particular standouts be the helicopter chase, skydiving scenes, and fight sequences. Ok, there are flaws here. I highly doubt that army officers strip you when you are court-martialled. Also if you have limited time to stop terrorists, you probably are not going to find the time to stop home for mummy's "aashirwaad". Furthermore, there was no need to imply that Pakistani's are full of evil, address the terrorist leader as "your people", and bring up the nuclear missile subject. Bollywood needs to butt out of politics period.

This is not a classic, profound film - but it is highly entertaining. See it if you are looking for a good thrill and want to see Madhuri's acting and dancing. I can almost guarantee that she will not disappoint. And let's hope that the glossiness of this film helps us to improve the quality of Hindi cinema in the new millenium.

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