HIMMATWALA was THE film that gave an impetus to the trend of remaking South Indian films in the 1980s. Post this film, there was a sea of remakes, with Jeetendra, Sridevi, Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor and Asrani featuring in almost every remake...
It's easy to remake a successful film, but the responsibility that Sajid Khan carries on his shoulders cannot be assessed in mere words. Right from the masala quotient to Ajay and Tamannah matching steps with Jeetendra and Sridevi, respectively, each and every aspect of the new version will be examined with a magnifying glass. While a section of the industry [as well as moviegoers] opine that trendsetting movies should not be touched [read remade], there also exists a section that feels that the present-day generation would love to watch those films in new avtaars. The debate continues...
The pertinent query is, does Sajid Khan's HIMMATWALA recreate the magic of K. Raghavendra Rao's HIMMATWALA , which itself was a remake of a Telugu film? At the very outset, let me inform you that the two HIMMATWALAs are almost similar, yet dissimilar. While the basic premise remains identical, besides retaining two hugely popular tracks, Sajid has modified certain portions of the film, besides adding a few episodes. What's common between the two versions is the intent to provide entertainment to its target audience -- those who relish masala fares.
Now let's talk of the new HIMMATWALA. It's all about entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. Right from the styling to death-defying action to fiery dialogue delivered in high decibels, everything that you get to see in HIMMATWALA is reminiscent of the Bollywood of the 1980s. The mother-son drama, the hero-villain conflict, the heroism... even Ajay's introductory sequence is straight out of 1980s. Be forewarned, HIMMATWALA is 1980s cinema packaged in a new wrapping, but even if you have an appetite for the masala movies of yore or are ready to do a time travel to the angry young man of 1980s, chances are you will feel suffocated by the on-screen goings-on that Sajid Khan dishes out in the name of entertainment.
HIMMATWALA narrates the story of a son [Ajay Devgn], who comes to the village to avenge the injustice meted out to his father [Anil Dhawan], who had been wrongly accused by the Sarpanch [Mahesh Manjrekar] of robbery.
HIMMATWALA takes you back to the familiar terrain. It's the typical good versus bad saga loaded with every possible ingredient that makes masala films tick. Sajid ensures that those who have watched the earlier HIMMATWALA -- or those who haven't watched it -- get paisa vasool entertainment in those 2.30 hours, but, unfortunately, what unfolds on screen is so routine and monotonous that you fervently hope for some novelty in this adaptation. One doesn't mind massy entertainers, but there has to be a hook to keep the viewer's attention arrested. HIMMATWALA provides that only towards the closing stages of the film, when the mother [Zarina Wahab] gets to know of Ajay's true identity.
Sajid makes an attempt to pay homage to the cinema of yore, but what he delivers makes you sit motionless for most parts. If a movie fails to invoke wolf whistles or ovation at the right places, you realize something is seriously wrong. The biggest problem is Sajid does nothing, absolutely nothing out of the box or path-breaking in the current scenario to grab your attention, which is why HIMMATWALA fails as a film. The romance lacks fire, the drama is devoid of intensity, even the action is plain ordinary… Frankly, HIMMATWALA has nothing that warrants a repeat viewing.
While Sajid retains two hugely popular tracks from the original ['Naino Mein Sapna' and 'Taki Taki'], HIMMATWALA has yet another track that's lilting -- 'Bum Pe Laat'. However, 'Thank God It's Friday', at the very start of the film, is plain ordinary, despite the star presence of Sonakshi Sinha. Sajid-Farhad's dialogue have always been mass-friendly and the lines in HIMMATWALA are a riot at times. The masses will love the dialogue delivered by Paresh Rawal specifically. The action sequences are just about okay. We have seen better stuff in several escapist fares recently.
Ajay slips into the retro avatar effortlessly. Generally known for his intense performances, he plays to the gallery well. He may be awkward in dances, but he makes sure he roars like a lion when he confronts the antagonist. Tamannah faces an uphill task of stepping into Sridevi's shoes and though she looks photogenic, there's no acting talent on display here. Mahesh Manjrekar doesn't evoke terror that one would associate with his character. Paresh Rawal is the real scene stealer, who gets to deliver the best lines. Zarina Wahab shines in the penultimate sequence mainly. Adhyayan Suman is wooden. Rajendra Gupta and Vindu Dara Singh have bit roles. Asrani is wasted. The actress enacting the role of Ajay's sister does well. Riteish Deshmukh appears in a cameo.
Oh, before I forget, there's a tiger too, who comes across as the real himmatwala in the climax of the film!
On the whole, HIMMATWALA fails as a film. The only silver lining is the presence of A-list stars and of course, the hype surrounding the film, which might attract footfalls in mass-friendly circuits initially. But as a film that promises big entertainment, HIMMATWALA is hugely disappointing!