Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt and adventure? Chandrasekhar Yeleti and the team who made Sahasam, that’s who! Well, at least they certainly haven’t made such a film so I have to wonder. Loosely drawing inspiration from Hollywood blockbusters like the Indiana Jones franchise and Telugu forebears such as Mosagallaku Mosagadu, this had the potential to be a highly entertaining tale. I expected better from the director of one of my favourites, Anukokunda Oka Roju.

The story centres on a simple and superstitious man who dreams of great wealth. When he finds his grandfather’s old papers he realises there may be a hidden family treasure. Unfortunately for Goutham (Gopichand) the treasure is stashed near his ancestral home in what is now Pakistan (shown in a flashback with Suman as the grandfather). And Pakistan, according to this film, is populated exclusively by terrorists. Even good characters think nothing of abducting people at gunpoint. Goutham crosses paths with Sreenidhi (Taapsee), a religious girl who is organising a pilgrimage to – guess where. He inveigles his way on to the trip and off they go. The second half of the film is the treasure hunt as Goutham tries to find the diamonds before Sultan (an, er, unbridled Shakti Kapoor) and his sidekick Dilawar (Raj Singh Arora) can get their hands on the loot.

Sahasam-the book

Gopichand has the requisite skillset for a Telugu film hero, but the material here is thin at best. The first hour or so is spent proving that Goutham is a bit dim and quite unlucky. You would only need so long to understand that if you were dumber than Goutham. The fight scenes are very athletic (the fake blood budget was fully utilised in many, many dismemberments) and Gopichand was clearly in his element in the thick of the action. Post interval Goutham becomes something of a puzzle solving killing machine with photographic recall which was moderately more entertaining. Goutham’s catchphrase is that he won’t take anything that isn’t his, but if it is his he will never give it up. And that sums him up as a dogged, dour hero rather than a swashbuckling one.

As Goutham wasn’t motivated by the usual romantic notions, Taapsee had even less to do than might be expected from the heroine. I find her appeal inexplicable so that was an excellent result. She does use both her facial expressions (grimacing and simpering) so I suppose that is something of an achievement. To be fair, her big moment was as a goat substitute in a game of buzkashi so there wasn’t a lot of nuance for her to convey. Zara, an ally in Pakistan, was much more effective as a character and her performance was more appealing.

Ali’s character was supposed to be an Indian security expert living in Pakistan but he gave his usual shtick and Qayamat Raju was just an annoyance. Shakti Kapoor is insanely over the top and while I enjoy a properly nasty villain as much as the next person, he spiralled from cunning and ruthless to stupidly petulant and cowardly and finally outright buffoonery. I would not have bet on seeing a worse actor than Abhimanyu Singh in my lifetime but a new contender has emerged in Raj Singh Arora. His idea of intensity is pursed lips and bug eyed staring which has an unfortunately comedic effect when his glued on beard is taken into account. A villain can be crazy but they have to be a credible threat and imbue the dynamic with some menace. Otherwise they are just a jumped up comedy uncle.

If I may name drop, earlier this week I attended a masterclass by the amazing Suhasini. Among other things, she spoke about the difficulty of capturing the expression and spontaneity of the live scene when dubbing dialogues. The sound team in Sahasam decided to get around this by ignoring such details. At one point the dubbing is so bad that the screaming goes on long after Gopichand has shut his mouth, and minutes later vigorous fight noises are dubbed over characters who are doing nothing.

The production design is often excellent, but some clunky CGI does detract from the drama. I liked the scenes set in Goutham’s home as it looked eccentric and colourful but still lived in and real. Ladakh played the role of Pakistan and cinematographer Shyam Dutt used the stunning scenery and harsh light to good effect. Unfortunately Shakti Kapoor and his convoy of thugs are often blocking the view. The ‘olden days’ sequences are blighted by some cheap looking visual effects and inconsistent approach to things like light sources in underground chambers. I found myself being distracted by the similarity of all the spiderwebs in all the caves and wondered if they were bought in bulk.  And apparently the ‘terrorists’ use special bullets that can kill a man but not penetrate a car windscreen. Then there are the other special bullets that can destroy masonry but not harm Gopichand. Sigh.

There are five writers credited (including Chandrasekhar Yeleti) and I wonder if that contributed to the lack of cohesion in the story. There are several tangents that fail to develop into anything substantial or credible and the mood sometimes changes abruptly. The pacing is never quite right and there is no tension leading up to the final scene despite all the ingredients being present.  I read an interview with the director and he mentioned that he felt obliged to change things a bit to suit Gopichand’s image. Perhaps the film would have benefited from some more consideration as to how to incorporate the action hero elements.

The songs by Sri are average and not very memorable. The hero introduction has some visual flair but the songs don’t contribute to the story and the picturisations are nothing special.

It was like watching two really bad movies rolled into one. Sometimes that results in a guilty pleasure that is So Bad It’s Good. Sahasam is only halfway there if you catch my drift… 2 stars!


Yari Dushmani


Should you buy a DVD just because Sunil Dutt is wearing a hat on the cover?

 Yari Dushmani is a crazy masala bromance starring Sunil Dutt, Amjad Khan and Reena Roy among others. Directed at a cracking pace by Sikander Khanna, with an incident packed screenplay and zingy dialogue (Aziz Qaisi) and music by Laxmikant Pyarelal, it’s not really a film to analyse but there was loads to enjoy.

Apologies/warning: It’s Easter Sunday and I’ve been surrounded by a gaggle of toddlers under the influence of chocolate for the last few hours, so I’ll be taking the easy way out and relying heavily on pictures for this post.

I happened to start watching this at the same time that Beth was watching another Sunil Dutt film. The films were different but the reason for buying the DVDs was the same – the cover featured Sunil Dutt in a striking hat. I’ve bought a number of DVDs on the strength of the cover and have been bitterly disappointed to find that there were no giant parrots or women dressed as Cleopatra in the film. Naturally we were each curious to see if the movie lived up to the promise of headgear, and if the hats enhanced the film in any way. Oh, and was the film any good. Are hats a reliable indicator of entertainment in a film?

The story opens with two feisty and foul mouthed urchins (one is Master Bittoo but I’m not sure who the other kid is) living on the streets. They are resourceful, try to help people in need and they have a creative approach to finding paid opportunities.

They grow up into Shankar (Sunil Dutt) and Birju (Amjad Khan). Thugs, thieves, crims call them what you will. They have a significant cigarette lighter and a jaunty song (Hai Hum Galiyon Ke if you’re interested) which includes a fight, the hats on the DVD cover, and a flashback to their orphan days.

Pammi (Reena Roy) is also on the shady side of the law. She uses her charms to entrap men, and then threatens to cry rape unless they pay up. Her virtue is intact and she is a good bad girl, which is spelled out in the dialogue with her would be pimp Jumbo (Jankidas). She fleeces Shankar and Birju, but Shankar still comes to her aid when Jumbo threatens to sell her.

In an effort to make amends and help herself out of a tricky situation, she tells the chaps of a plan to rob a wealthy wedding and suggests they knock the place over first. This is a good idea as it includes Amjad Khan in bandleader get-up, and a qawwali featuring Reena Roy and Sunil Dutt (and more hats).

But Birju is in love with Komal (Daljit Kaur), a nightclub chanteuse. She sings about love, but only loves money. He cannot resist keeping the haul of diamonds to himself and he uses the loot to buy the discotheque Komal performs in, effectively buying her.

He gets a fancy house, flashy clothes, and a taste for the high life. His love for Komal seems to be tied to how much she is worth, and he expects her to entertain businessmen so he can win more contracts. His early Robin Hood ethic is nowhere in sight.

Shankar has no idea his friend betrayed him. He languishes in jail following the million dollar diamond heist, and obviously people are keen to know where he hid the gems. Doing time with him are murderer Peter Perera (Roopesh Kumar), thug Bhim Singh (Dev Kumar) and a little person. Bhim Singh is the brother of a notorious daku Darjan Singh (Shakti Kapoor). Peter killed his brother-in-law over 100 million dollars worth of diamonds.

Roopesh Kumar could not be accused of underplaying his flashback confession.

Shankar intervenes when Peter is beaten up. Now, I like to think I am not easily shocked or surprised but of all the things I fearfully anticipated happening when Shankar slung the dwarf over his shoulder, this was not one.

So added to the betrayal of friendship and the original theft, we now have a bigger stash of gems, a repentant murderer, a crazy and unrepentant daku, and a young mute boy who is the only living person who knows where the diamonds were hidden.

Shankar is released from jail, and thanks to Pammi he knows Birju has sold him out. Reena Roy gets some really entertaining scenes as Pammi outwits men who want to buy her, and uses the police to get rid of Jumbo. She is a smart girl in the midst of utter madness, and pretty handy in a fight. Reena Roy plays it to the hilt and I really enjoyed her presence in the film. Pammi moves into Birju’s house as his old friend. He suspects nothing, but she is working to protect Shankar from treachery. I will just digress again – what’s with the footprint motif on the bedhead?

Anyway. Birju makes several ill conceived attempts to kill Shankar as he cannot contemplate sharing his wealth.

He even sends a gang of Lego men (more headgear!) to beat up his old dost.

The two men journey into the hills, and things come to a head. Shankar leaves Birju with his neck in a noose and his feet precariously balanced on a handy wagon wheel. They go their separate ways. Or do they? Despite the silliness of the plot, they are both very good in their roles. I don’t think I’ve struck a Sunil Dutt film yet that hasn’t at least been interesting. And Amjad Khan gets to be more than a one dimensional baddie.

Everything and everyone converges on Girijapur, Peter Perera’s home, and the location of the priest (Bharat Bushan) who received his last confession. As with all secrets, everyone knows that the priest knows, and various parties set out to make him talk.

Shakti Kapoor and his gang raid the village in search of loot, interrupting a comedy wedding (Tun Tun and Rajendranath), and shoots the priest. And here is where I learned something never mentioned in my 12 years in a convent school.

So that’s how priests are made. My Jesuit friend will be gutted he wasted so many years studying. Whether for spiritual or other reasons, Sunil Dutt starts wearing a pith helmet.

Amjad Khan meanwhile decides to move into the village and impersonate the police, perhaps for the hat or maybe for the roomy uniform.

Reena Roy develops sharp shooting skills and has a nice line in 70s frocks and the occasional cap. She and Shankar are in love but I am not sure how that works with his being a priest and all. She is as active in defence of the village as he is, and she is also the caretaker for Komal who has turned up, pregnant and rejected by Birju. Pammi usually has a gun in her hand and the villagers accept her orders. And they develop some excellent defences including bombs and disguising themselves as haystacks.

Sunil gets to, well, joust in one fight with Shakti so I guess they felt the pressure to be really really macho.

The climax of the film involves gunfire, explosions, young Munna the no longer mute being tossed around like a rag doll, lots of punch ups and a moral dilemma. Will Birju finally value friendship over sparkly stones? Or will he take the money and run?

You’ll have to watch it to find out. But one thing I will share is a foolproof method for despatching Shakti Kapoor – the pointy end of a crucifix.

Happy Easter!

Oh I suppose I should make this a happy post. Here is how things look at the end:

And a little bit of advice next time you shop for DVDs.


Geraftaar is not just a simple tale of two brothers separated at birth as this film manages to incorporate almost every Hindi film cliché.  There is the long suffering mother, a significant song, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, a significant necklace and to top it all off death by bulldozer. As if that wasn’t enough we have not one, not two, but three heroes.  Kamal Hassan, Amitabh Bachchan and Rajnikanth appear together although unfortunately not all on screen at the same time.

Karan Kumar Khanna is a brat of a child, but still doesn’t deserve to be framed for his father’s murder. Adding to his misery, the real killers convince him that he may have been responsible. Nirupa Roy, in true filmi Ma style, instantly believes that he did indeed kill his father.  Karan runs away and tries to kill himself.

This allows his brother Kishan to grow up free from his teasing at least.  Kishan grows up into Kamal Hassan. Working as a stuntman in the film industry he has big dreams of making it as a hero but struggles to get paid the basic rate for his work.

His personal life is no more successful. After a rather unpromising start, he finally marries the unbelievably spoilt and self-centred Anuradha.  Anu is played by Poonam Dhillon, who does a very good job of making her character initially unappealing.

Back to those clichés!  Anu’s brother is a gangster and is involved with a number of shady businessmen, who were also responsible for the death of our heroes’ father.  They devise a plot to frame Kishan for the murder of his dancer friend Lucy, (but unfortunately not before she does a really bad version of flashdance), and he ends up in jail.  Coincidence rules and thanks to that significant song he manages to find Karan, although he doesn’t know who Karan is.

Karan (now the much taller and much more serious Amitabh Bachchan) explains why he is in prison though a series of flashbacks that pick up from his failed suicide attempt.  We learn that he was found by a Muslim boy, and taken in by him and his mother.  Both boys grew up to be police inspectors, but Hussein (Rajnikanth) was killed by Vijay, the police commissioner’s son.  Karan is in love with Vijay’s sister Geeta, played by Madhavi in a role that involves quite a bit of fisticuffs!   So we have a symmetrical arrangement of two good(ish) girls who both have evil brothers plotting against our heroes who are long-lost-brothers. There are various jail breaks, song breaks, court dramas, deaths by bulldozer (yes, more than one) and the inevitable family reunion, so that all ends well.

There are some great things about this film.  Inspector Geeta gets to join in for a lot of the fight scenes and does a really good job.  Rajnikanth is excellent as the cigarette tossing Inspector Hussein and manages a suitably dramatic and filmi ending – defiantly smoking his cigarette to the bitter end.

The gang are the comedy relief and manage some funny moments in their convoluted plans.  Kader Khan has a really insane moustache, and is clearly the head villain as he has a talking skull that gives him advice!

The scenes of Karan and Kishan singing and wandering around what appears to be a very nice open-plan prison are well done and the drama of their meeting is well handled.

The character of Anu is initially unlikeable and shows no empathy for anyone.  She tricks Kishan into believing she loves him (and his Ma) and then humiliates him in front of her friends — all because she couldn’t stand the idea that he wasn’t interested in her.  In revenge, he insists on marrying her before sending Anu back to her brother’s house so she can be trained to be a worthy bride. This deception on both sides leaves Kishan’s Ma in hospital as she crumbles under the weight of so much bizarre behaviour. Anu has an epiphany and  magically morphs into the perfect wife, praying to die before Kishan and wait for him in the afterlife.

Neither of the female leads show any regret about their brothers – either for the life they lead or when they both suffer the consequences for their wrong-doing.  Geeta initially tries to reason with her brother Vijay, but doesn’t seem at all happy to find that reports of his death were premature.  Anu is shown vowing to cast aside her other relationships and accept Kishan as her husband but that was part of her deception so it wasn’t clear if she decided a vow was a vow, or if some other change of heart took place. The rest of the film is dedicated to family so this lack of feeling from the sisters towards their respective brothers did seem odd.

Kamal Hassan turns in a very good performance as Kishan but is upstaged by Amitabh in the second half. The two heroines do what they do, but don’t really have much to work with although they both get to participate in the action in the final scenes. Nirupa Roy with her trademark knuckle bite is once again the dramatic filmi mother.  The music by Bappi Lahiri leans heavily towards disco – this was filmed in 1985 – but the significant song Aana Jaana Laga Rahega is lovely and sung beautifully by Shabbir Kumar and Bappi Lahiri himself. Kader Khan, Ranjeet and Shakti Kapoor play their usual stock characters and once again reap the benefit of a well funded wardrobe department. The fight scenes are very amusing.  Although sped up to a ridiculous degree they still look quite leisurely. Perhaps the fights composer, credited as Judo Rathnam, was really a tai chi expert.

Heather says: I started this film a few times before I finally managed to watch it to the end.  I find the first half drags, and the character of Anu was so annoying that I ended up shouting at the screen.  But the whole tempo of the film changed at the appearance of Amitabh and Rajnikanth, so it was well worth making it to the second half – thank-you Temple for insisting I finish it!  Rajni steals every scene he is in. Despite the fact that this is a special appearance with only a small role, he made the most of every second and I loved every single one of them!  Amitabh was overly dramatic which made him somewhat more comic  than I think was intended, but seemed to fit the general feel of the film.  I couldn’t really take death by bulldozer seriously and spent most of the film laughing at the melodrama of it all.  When I wasn’t getting annoyed by Anu at any rate.  I enjoyed the songs and thought that the comedy track was well written in, and had some very funny moments.  I have the feeling they couldn’t decide if this was meant to be a drama, a comedy or an action film, but instead of adding everything to make it full masala it just ended up switching from one style to the other and was just that little bit less satisfying.  That little bit of Rajni helped make it more palatable. This film gets 3 stars from me.

Temple says: I agree with Heather that the director couldn’t quite decide how to spread out the masala ingredients in Geraftaar—so I think they decided Kamal Hassan got the comedy (mostly), Amitabh took drama and Rajnikanth was the action man. Which made for an uneven, albeit wildly entertaining, film. Bulldozers are not a weapon for the spontaneous killer, so the build up to get to the death by moving equipment was overly complicated and really made the film drag. And how some of the victims didn’t see it coming is just beyond me. The three heroes did an excellent job, especially Amitabh and Rajni as their roles had more substance and, I can’t believe I am going to use this word in relation to this film, logic. The heroines were OK for their under-written and sketchy roles and Madhavi looked like she was right into the biffo in the final scenes. I do have to give an extra cheer for Kamal Hassan’s dancing duel in his featured song. Its worth seeing Geraftaar just for the star cast. It’s a bit of a chore to hang in there til the action kicks in, but it is worth it. I give this 3 and 1/2 stars. It gets extra for the skull with glowing eyes and for Kamal Hassan’s dancing.