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Wajood

Producer : N. Chandra
Director :
N. Chandra
*ing: Nana Patekar, Madhuri Dixit, Mukul Dev, Ramiya, Johnny Lever, Javed Akthar
Music: Anu Malik

Released on : December 11, 1998


Reviewed by: Sunder Kumar
sunder@indolink.com


out of 
If you enjoy Nana Patekar's variety of histrionics, you do not have to read on to be convinced that this movie is for you. You sure can read on about his how Wajood is all about Nana Patekar playing a role that only he would. And does it as well as he can. It could be a "one-act" poetry recital with Madhuri prancing around that seems endless, but it still would be enjoyable. It could be the many faces he puts playing thief in a cop and thief chase, the military officer courting a widow, a blind man operating a telephone booth, a postman robbing a bank, or mentally retarded man. He excels in each of these and transitions into and out of them with effortless ease. Wajood (identity) in a way is Nana Patekar establishing his identity as the actor he is. Nana Patekar is so dominant in the movie; with as much footage and well-written roles, Madhuri Dixit and Mukul Dev do not get your mind-share. Madhuri is still convincing, Mukul is tolerable, and Ramya is avoidable in role not worth writing home.

The movie itself is engrossing with a taut screenplay, and a nice theme underlying. But then, what you see is perhaps what you have seen so many times. Madhuri breaks into stage numbers, which are marginally better than her older numbers—the choreography in recent times has marched ahead with Dil To Pagal Hai and Dil Se. Mukul Dev is the honest police officer who also loves dancer charming. Nana Patekar plays an obsessed lover to dancer charming, she is the only one who encourages him to pursue an unconventional career in theater. I thought Shahrukh Khan and Nana Patekar, besides numerous others (who didn't do well enough for me to remember) beat the obsessed lover to death, but, of course they did, the aspect usually comes off dead.

What makes Wajood different is the underlying theme of creating an identity for oneself. Nana Patekar (Malhar) is the son of a lower middle-class slum-dwelling typist, who lives under the weight of failing in his life. The undercurrent of this father-son relationship is brilliantly essayed. Pressurized to take up a salary-paying clerical job and forced to pursue the bookish education, Nana still looks to the artist within and seeks to make his mark on stage. The scene where Nana explains how he was forced to books is just brilliant. He explains how he was locked in a house and spanked because he wouldn’t get first rank. Eventually he is driven to crime for winning a cup on stage (which his father terms a begging bowl). Madhuri (Apoorva) plays a businessman's daughter, and her father wants her to carry on the business, but she wants to be a journalist. Mukul Dev is a youth, still looking for a choice of career. With this, and the love story is smartly condensed into a brisk first half.

The second half shows the revenge of Nana Patekar for obstructing his artistic aspirations. He is jailed for accidentally killing Mukul's father while pleading his case of love for Madhuri to her father. This are the place where the movie falters. He engineers a jailbreak and uses his acting talents to wreak havoc. The movie runs down to ordinary-dom here, though it is engrossing in being ordinary, and finds its way to a strong finale.

Technically, W. B. Rao is a letdown with the camera. He has done a lot better with Lootere, Hum, and Khuda Gawah. The choreography is just about ordinary.
Madhuri is good in dances but that’s usual. Nana's poetry with Madhuri prancing is the only gem. A number of cameos pop in and out. The lyrics get to you when Nana recites Kaise Bataoon Main Tujhe, but the songs otherwise are only average. The dialogues are good, and wickedly humorous at time. But, even with all these positives you see nothing that you perhaps haven't already. And, it is not any better presented than any other, which exactly is what made Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dil To Pagal Hai work: the presentation. With better presentation, Wajood could have been a lot better.

 

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