Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Surakksha (1979)

As the real Bond-series became more and more exaggerated and out of this world, so followed the rip-offs around the world. And as usual, India fast took the lead in the race in delivering the most outrageous and over-the-top entertainment. Director Ravikant Nagaich wasn’t a stranger in the genre, and his Farz (1967) is still a timeless spy-classic who also took a lot of inspiration from the Bond-saga. But when Farz clearly is referencing the Connery movies, Surakksha goes all the way into colourful Roger Moore territory with more action, more comedy, more effects and a Bond villain right from the comic books.

Mithun Chakraborty is CBI Officer Gopi, aka Gunmaster G-9! After an insanely groovy credits-sequence with Mithun surrounded by beautiful ladies and doing kung fu moves in a studio the story blasts of with a lot of chases and action directly. Everything seem to evolve around Officer Jackson (Tej Sapru) who after an airplane accident is believed to be dead – well, it’s quite clearly the case after he’s delivered in a box to his daughters birthday! But Gundmaster G-9 suspects foul play and discovers that it’s not Jackson, it’s really some other dude who made some surgery to look like Jackson. The lack of subtitles made the story a bit vague, but of course a lot of people want G-9 dead after he discovered the truth and everything leads to a big underwater base where the evil Doctor Shiva (K. Balaji) roams with an eye-patch and a hand of steel! He also has a machine that creates natural disasters, and the only one to stop him – with martial arts – is Gunmaster G-9!

I always respect filmmakers who make what they want even if they aren’t even near the budget they needed to make their dream come true. Surkksha is a living proof for this mentality, because this can be one of the cheapest Bond knock-offs I’ve seen, but director Nagaich obviously never stopped and said no to his own crazy ideas. He made them anyway, and that’s one of those details that make Surakksha so brilliant. Sure, the storyline aren’t especially interesting, but with Chakraborty in the lead and a frantic direction and editing by Nagaich makes this a movie with virtually no boring moments at all. Sometimes it’s almost abstract in its weird visual solutions, for example the exterior of Officer Gopi’s house:

So let’s talk a little about the special effects. It’s very clear that there wasn’t any budget to create big stunts and spectacular effects, but that didn’t stop Nagaich from just using toy cars and very primitive miniatures to create the action set-pieces. Not that this is a bad thing, because like with stop-motion monsters and CG monsters we all know it’s not real, but we know what it’s suppose to be. This is the idea with Surakksha. Even if the filmmakers just throw toy cars between them or use an alarm clock to simulate a bomb or en elevator counter going 300 meters below the sea level, we’re still aware of what the purpose is. We know what’s happening and if we can ignore the cheap effects and focus on the entertainment, both in the story and the entertainment created by the cheap effects, it’s suddenly easier to accept the movie. Surakksha also has a variety of real stunts, mostly really wild fighting and fast and exciting chases in every possible environment.

Another interesting thing with Surkkasha is the disaster scenes. This is a movie from the age of disaster movies, so it wasn’t that surprising to see a big scale disaster scene in the finale. The villain sets his machine to create a big mother of a tsunami that completely crushes Bombay in a glorious sequence of very cheap minatures and a few seconds of black & white footage from much older movie. But most of it is created for this movie and as a fan of disaster movies it was a nice surprise and a welcome twist!

Surakksha became a big hit and a few years later Chakraborty and Nagaich teamed up to make Wardaat, a movie I hope to review sooner or later – because it seem even more far out and wild than this one. Stay tuned for more Bondesque adventure from India!

1 comment:

Ty said...

Good review! Will have to check this out.