First of all I express my gratitude towards esteemed movie reviewer Aruna Thyagarajan (better known as moviezombie among her admirers) whose assertion in reply to my comments upon her review of Rang De Basanti (2005) has inspired me to write a review on this movie which is very close to my heart. Her assertion is –‘Review is about feelings and what the movie evokes in one. Moviemaking and movie viewing is so subjective.never know who it reaches out to and how:‘ Yes, reviewing a movie for amateurs is nothing is but an expression of what he or she has felt by viewing it. It is bound to be subjective because the movie may contain something for an individual that others may not notice or may not feel because of individual differences. That’s how a blockbuster may not appeal to somebody and a flop and bashed movie may inspire somebody very much.
Akshay Kumar-Preity Zinta starrer Sangharsh (1999) is such a movie for me. Other than being a box office flop, it has been badly criticized by all and sundry. However I am writing this review because it inspired me in the past, still inspires me and I hope, will continue to inspire me and boost my morale in the future as well. It is said to be a frame to frame copy of a Hollywood movie – The Silence of the Lambs (1991). However this factor alone should not be the basis of brushing this movie aside as copying foreign movies has been more or less a routine for our Bollywood filmmakers for decades. The thing is how the plot has been dealt with and how impactful is the presentation.On 29th March, 1999, while going to Mumbai, I slipped from Karnavati Express on the platform of Bandra, Mumbai while the train was in motion. I got my left hand severely fractured and got operated in Mumbai itself because of the help extended to me by a friend living in Mumbai (Ramesh Gupta). However that surgery failed and I underwent another surgery in July 1999 in Jodhpur (Rajasthan). I had to keep my hand under heavy plaster-work for months. I appeared in the Indian Civil Services (Preliminary Exam.) in such precarious condition itself and when I came to know that I had passed it, I became determined to prepare for the Main Exam despite the second surgery. In those days, my residence was in Udaipur (Rajasthan). My wife, being a Govt. servant those days, could not live with me and I had to live alone. I arranged tiffin service for my food and started preparing for the exam (I had appeared in the viva of this exam the previous year, i.e., 1998). However my poor physical condition, heavy monetary loss and more than that the loss of precious time for the preparation for the exam, had adversely affected my morale. Physically living alone, I had started feeling lonely from within too. A kind of melancholy had enveloped me and I was not able to concentrate upon the studies.
In such a time of my life, Sangharsh (struggle) got released on 3rd September, 1999 and I read its review in the daily newspaper, Rajasthan Patrika. Just for the sake of giving some relief to my mind, I went to the Paaras Cinema in Udaipur on 5th September, 1999 to watch it. And when the movie was over after two hours and so, I was not the same as before the start of the movie. The movie had filled a lot of positive energy and optimism in me. Thereafter I watched it many times and till date it is a source of inspiration for me.The story revolves around a trainee CBI officer, Reet Oberai (Preity Zinta) who has always been struggling with the haunting memories of her horrible childhood and the stain on the name of her family due to her brother’s involvement in the terrorist activities. Her boss who is impressed by her talent and dedication, assigns her a difficult duty to catch a superstitious child-killer, Lajjashankar Pandey (Ashutosh Rana) with the help of another criminal, Aman Verma (Akshay Kumar) who despite being imprisoned, is very resourceful and informative, courtesy his underworld connections. Meantime, Lajjashankar kidnaps a minister’s son. How the pair of criminal-CBI officer rescues the child from Lajjashankar, is the story.The young lady director, Tanuja Chandra (at that time, she was only 26 years old) has taken too many cinematic liberties to tell the story. That’s why, many sequences are not logically digestible. Yet the movie scores because of technical excellence and power-packed performances by all the three main protagonists. Ashutosh Rana deservingly won the best villain award for his deadly performance in this movie. However, it’s Akshay Kumar who, in my personal and (may be) subjective view, takes the cake. I had never been his admirer prior to this movie. However he proved in this movie that he can act quite proficiently when given a meaty and author-backed role. To me, Akshay’s performance in Sangharsh is his best till date. Preity Zinta was doing just the third movie of her career (the first two being Dil Se… and Soldier), yet she delivers a knockout performance in the role of an enthusiastic young officer who is afraid of dark due to her scaring childhood memories. The chemistry between these two is amazing. I mention some scenes which appealed to me very much:
The scene between Preity and her mother in the beginning.
The first encounter between Akshay and Preity in jail which is the introductory scene of Akshay.
The second meeting between these two, again in jail in which Akshay fires Preity and passes sarcastic comments upon her fear of dark.
The scene between the handicapped boy (reminding of Mazhar Khan as Abdul in Shaan) and Preity.
The encounter between Preity and Ashutosh Rana in a cattle-house.
The scene in which Preity watches a video clipping of Ashutosh Rana.
The scene in which drops of blood are falling from the top of the lift.
The scene in which Akshay while taking pen from Preity, touches her fingers and that small touch itself evokes a tender feeling in his heart.
The scene in which Akshay says to Preity – Tum mujhe bahut achchhi lagti ho (You are so dear to me).
The scene in which wounded Akshay browbeats a corrupt chemist.
The scene of chase in the solar eclipse fair at Hrishidham.
Preity’s saving the kidnapped child who is being flown away in the swift water-stream (in the climax).
The highly violent and action-packed climax culminating in Akshay’s death and Preity’s kissing him in his death moment.
The movie is thoroughly engrossing and scores at several places despite many indigestible things which you cannot note when watching it in a theatre because the editor has used his scissors so sharply and wisely that you just keep on watching, holding your breath, having no time to think. If a person (like me) seeks inspiration from this movie and the characters of its lead pair, it is available in abundance. On the other hand, it is not weak on the entertainment front also. It’s an action-packed, fast-paced movie with some very good dialogues and some very impressive scenes sans any action.
The director has extracted impressive performances from the complete supporting cast including Aman Verma, Vishwajeet Pradhan, Amardeep Jha, Ninad Kamat, S.M. Zaheer, Madan Jain and the child artist.
Two-three things are definitely irritating, viz. Ashutosh’s frequently repeating his act of moving his palm before his mouth (to scare his opponent); Preity’s buddy, Aman Verma’s singing a song to her over phone (which he continues even in a PCO) etc. But these minus points are quite less when compared to the plus points which are too many to be overshadowed.
The music given by Jatin-Lalit is quite melodious. For two songs, they have copied the tunes of old songs, viz. Pehli-Pehli Baar Baliye is a copied composition of Dekho Ji Bahaar Aayi and Mujhe Raat Din Bas Mujhe Chaahti Ho, Kaho Na Kaho Mujhko Sab Kuchh Pata Hai is a shameless ditto of Mujhe Dekh Kar Aapka Muskarana, Mohabbat Nahin Hai To Phir Aur Kya Hai. However Sameer has penned down highly meaningful and inspiring lyrics for all the songs. While listening to Naaraaz Savera Hai, I was feeling as if my frustration, pain and melancholy was venting out of me whereas Manzil Na Ho, Koi Haasil Na Ho filled a lot of optimism in me in that time (first viewing) and till date it is a perennial source of inspiration to me. The best song composed by the music directors has not been kept in the movie which I listened to in the album only. It is – Hum Badi Dur Chale Aaye Hain Chalte-Chalte in the voices of Sonu Nigam and Shraddha Pandit. I advise all the melody lovers as well as the lovers of emotional lyrics not to miss listening to this song.
The movie has high production value. The art director and the action director have done their jobs well. Editor has already been praised by me. Choreographer’s job was only in the song – Manzil Na Ho, Koi Haasil Na Ho which has not been done badly.
The dialogue writer, Girish Dhamija has done an excellent job. I will only mention three dialogues here. The dialogue of Akshay for Preity – ‘Bechaari Reet, Samajhati Hai Ki Doosron Ke Gham Baantne Se Apne Zakhm Bhar Jaate Hain’ (Poor Reet who thinks that own wounds are healed-up by sharing the pain of others) left an indelible impression upon my heart. Ditto for Akshay’s dialog upon meeting Preity after escaping from prison – ‘Sapne Soch-Samajhkar Dekhne Chaahiye, Sach Ho Jaate Hain’ (It’s better to dream thoughtfully because they may come true). I will conclude my review with another dialogue which I always keep in my mind. It’s Vishwajeet Pradhan’s saying to a junior while talking about Preity – ‘Jo Andhere Ka Anjaam Jaante Hain, Woh Roshni Dhoondh Hi Lete Hain, Chaahe Iske Liye Unhen Kitna Bhi Sangharsh Kyun Na Karna Pade’ (Those who know where the darkness ends up, are always able to locate the light howsoever struggle they may have to undergo for it). This dialogue expresses the gist of the movie.
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