Modern Arjun taking on the modern Kauravas

First of all, I sincerely thank my dear friend and seasoned Bollywood movie reviewer – Fenil Seta for inspiring me to write a review of this movie which had proved itself to be the trend-setter in the decade of the eighties. Many politics based action movies came thereafter on the lines of this movie and this movie can, quite justifiably, be called the predecessor to the blockbuster movie of Rajeev Rai – Mohra (1994). It provides some glimpses of Rajkumar Santoshi’s much later movie – Ghatak (1996) too. I don’t consider Rahul Rawail as a great director and I believe that his earlier hit ventures – Love Story (1981) and Betaab (1983) had good music, fresh lead pairs and some amount of luck behind their box office successes. However, in Arjun (1985), he has proved his worth as a director and it’s a movie whose success can be credited in major part to Rahul Rawail, the director.

Like the legendary Arjun in the Mahabharat, here also there is an Arjun who is inspired by someone to take on the evil forces the same way Krishna had inspired the mythological Arjun. However here the person appearing like Krishna is actually someone of the category of Shakuni in the disguise of Krishna. He is, in fact, himself a part of the Kauravas and only exploiting the might and the talent of Arjun to cater to his own interests by misguiding him under the name of working for some ideals.Arjun (Sunny Deol) is an educated but unemployed youth who is the son of an aged ordinary accountant Mavalankar (A.K. Hangal) working in a private company. The other people in the house are his step-mother (Shashikala) and his step-sister, Sudha (Supriya Pathak). Arjun has to listen to the taunts of his step-mother and tolerate her ill-treatment. Coincidentally, one day, he bumps upon the men of a local hoodlum, Ranga (Goga Kapoor) who is, in turn, the man of local gangster, Anoop Lal (Paresh Rawal) who, in turn, the confidante of local MLA, Deen Dayal Trivedi (Prem Chopra). After a fight with Ranga at his den, Arjun gets arrested, only to find on release on bail that he has no place in his home despite sympathy of his sister Sudha. The politician, Shiv Kumar Chowgule (Anupam Kher) who has given his bail only supports him thereafter too. He arouses the patriotic sentiments of Arjun and uses him against Deen Dayal Trivedi who is his competitor in the same political party. Arjun works for him thinking that he is doing some noble cause. His friend, Mohan (Satyajeet) gets killed in a retaliating attack by Anoop Lal. But he, with the moral support of honest police inspector, Ravi (Raj Kiran) who has married Sudha with his help and his sweetheart, Geeta (Dimple Kapadia); keeps on working against Trivedi with zeal and a clean heart.

The day, Arjun hands a file containing evidences against Trivedi over to Chowgule, Chowgule’s approach towards him is changed and he throws him out of his life withdrawing all his support to him. Reason ? Viewers already know but Arjun does not know that Chowgule himself is no better than Trivedi. Both are two sides of the same coin of political corruption. Chowgule blackmails Trivedi on the basis of that file and takes care of his vested interests. Now Arjun comes to know of the real character of Chowgule and the fact that he has been used by him like a pawn on the chessboard of selfish politics. His another friend, Chander (Raja Bundela) also becomes a pawn in political hands and commits a murder to arrange money for his needy family. Finally Arjun exposes and punishes Chowgule in the climax.

Javed Akhtar has written this film after getting separated from Salim and given it the shape of a regular masala movie of Bollywood. The subject of use of unemployed youths by selfish politicians was handled very well in Gulzar’s classic movie – Mere Apne (1971). Arjun is a regular masala flick and cannot be compared to that classic film. However in this movie, the unemployed youth is shown as a man of character and principles and that’s why the selfish politician is shown as exploiting his noble thoughts to suit his interests. That’s a new angle. Besides, exploiting the personal feelings of the youth who is starving for parental love through emotional blackmail, has also been shown with finesse. How such innocent youths are discarded like something useless by such politicians after the have done their bit for them, has also been shown emphatically.

But the thing is, the presentation of the story is less realistic, more filmy. The characters of corrupt politicians and their criminal counterparts are over the top and appear like caricatures. That’s why the reality of Chowgule may come as a surprise for the hero in the final part of the movie but it’s not at all a surprise for the audience because due to to faulty portrayal of characters (devoid of naturalness), everything is clear before it since the beginning itself. Javed Akhtar has used his experience of writing masala flicks by inserting all the regular formulae of Bollywood movies in the script. Using that script, Rahul Rawail has made an entertaining movie for the regular Bollywood movie buffs.

All the same, this movie was a path-breaking one in its time because for the first time, the idealist hero was shown as being used as a pawn by someone. The same idea was executed by Rajeev Rai in Mohra (1994) in a different way after a few years. The simple and straight hero’s taking upon the might of the local hoodlums is something which got repeated in Sunny’s more than a decade later movie – Ghatak (1996) directed by Rajkumar Santoshi. Arjun was the pioneer in this way for subsequent action-thrill studded movies.Arjun established Sunny Deol as an action hero. Sunny has always proved that he is a good actor and a perfect choice for action-emotional roles. He has carried this movie on his lone shoulders because all other characters are auxiliaries only. However Dimple Kapadia, Supriya Pathak, Raj Kiran, A.K. Hangal, Shashikala, Satyajeet, Raja Bundela, Shafi Inamdaar, Annu Kapoor etc. have done well in their small roles. I found all the baddies as over the top. The maker of this movie can take the credit of introducing a highly talented actor to the cine-world who is Paresh Rawal who got the first high profile role of his cine-career as Anoop Lal, the Matka (illegal lottery) runner.

R.D. Burman’s music with Javed Akhtar’s lyrics is good. Two songs stand out – Mamaiya Kero Kero Kero Mama (by Shailendra Singh and chorus) and Bhoori Bhoori Aankhon Waala Ek Ladka Hai (by Lata).

Technically also, the movie is satisfactory. Cinematography, editing, art direction, everything is in order.

I thank Fenil again because due to his inspiration only, I watched this movie once more (earlier I had watched it more than two decades back). I recommend it to the fans of Sunny Deol as well as the audience liking action-thrillers.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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6 Responses to Modern Arjun taking on the modern Kauravas

  1. xhobdo says:

    Superb film Arjun. Loved Sunny Deol performance. Thanks for your review.

    Happy Janmashtami.

  2. Sachin Baikar says:

    Very well written review 👍This is one of my favourite movies. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Rupali says:

    I should watch this.

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