Khoobsurat (1999)


Khoobsurat (1999)
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Urmila Matondkar
Director: Sanjay Chhel
Nutshell: convoluted yarn unfortunately has more low points than highs.


Sanjay Chhel is a writer and buoyed on by his success , he has decided to direct a film. In fact, he is also credited with the story, the screenplay and the dialogues of the film. The film starts with the caption…it is simple to be difficult, it is difficult to be simple. It is simply difficult to be beautiful..and then the credits roll. Ugh. With such a preposterously pretentious beginning even before the first scene, I hoped the film would not follow in the same vein.

The good news is that it doesn’t. Its not preposterous neither is it pretentious. But that’s nearly all the praise that I can bestow on this lame effort of a movie. Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) plays a small crook who unknowingly causes the drugs consignment of Gogi (paresh Rawal) caught by the police. Gogi’s loss is 50 lakhs and he wants this from Sanju and kidnaps a little girl from an orphanage to force Sanju to get him the money.

Sanju’s sidekick(Johny Lever) tells him of this NRI that he met at the airport also named Sanju and who was a distant relative of a family in Mumbai. The side kick however was going to engage him in showing him india for a month and the plan is hatched for Sanju to impersonate the NRI and go this family’s house, rob them and have the little girl released from the evil Gogi. So far, it sounds pretty dire but really, its only a ways to a means…to set up the plot of the story which then revolves around Sanju and the family.

This family seems to take to Sanju immediately with no questions asked “yeh to suman ka beta hai” and very soon, he has attached himself to all of them. The neglected girl, the crippled child, an alcoholic widowed father with an unmarried daughter, a longwinded son with a catty wife, an avaricious son with a neglected wife…and lastly, the saintly daadi maa and the waspish dada ji… So he goes about sorting out their business.

However, as he needs money, the idea is hatched by the sons that the shy and reticent Shivani (Urmila) must be married off to a rich suitor so that the requisite cash can be raised. Sanju transforms plain Jane into Sexy Shivani..the trick is by making her walk on ledges, throwing her glasses away and burning her books as to how she should be smart. In the process, Shivani falls in love with Sanju. Dare we ask if he shares her feelings…but he can’t can he?

Revealing more of the story would be giving the whole plot away not that it would make the slightest bit of difference…everything is so utterly predictable. It is a comedy but not a very funny one. Some of the dialogues are amusing rather than hilarious and some scenes are OK…but there is not cohesion and the whole thing is wafer light and extremely forced. There is absolutely no charm in it at all.

The fault lies in the screenplay which knits together a few scenes here and there but without any conviction at all. The similarities between this and Bawarchi may possibly be coincidental but the humour and charm of the older film one goes further to show up the shortcomings of this film. And apart from Bahut Khoobsurat ho, this is one of Jatin Lalit’s worst scores of recent times.

Talking about Bawarchi, does anyone remember the wonderful songs like Mast pavan dole re, more nainan bahaaen neer and tum bin jeevan?

Sanjay Dutt does a good job in the film and is genuinely at ease in the role of Sanju. He is much much better in this than he was in Haseena Maan Jayegi but that may be because he was simply overshadowed by Govinda in that film. Hats off to sanjay Dutt because he does infuse a great deal of charm and humour into his role.

Urmila on the other hand is charmless and ordinary in a role which should have been central to the film but is not really. Perhaps it is not her fault because the role has not been well written. The character of Shivani seems absolutely normal except for what appears to be a lack of confidence and that also only temporarily. Her mother is supposed to have died in childbirth but clearly this did not have any effect on the family in their attitude towards her…as indeed it should be. So she is not really haunted by this or troubled by anything in particular.

This is no Sharmila Tagore, the silent, tortured, anguished protagonist of Anupama. Oh no, that would have been delving much too deep for Mr Chhel. He set out to make a sprightly entertainer and made one…not very successfully. A major disappointment.