Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ajooba (1991)

"One of the worst all-time Hindi movies ever", so says the first user comment on IMDB. But hey, that's the first thing you seen on most movies on IMDB (except the usual classics like Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Star Wars, The Shining... *yawn*). This was one of several attempts of legendary superstar Amitabh Bachchan to get a new hit and once again conquer the cinemas. The rumour says he even starred in it for free, just to be nice to director Shashi Kapoor (normally an actor, and didn't direct again after this) and get a big juicy part again. To boost the budget and maybe make it look bigger Kapoor co-produced Ajooba with the Soviet Union and the movie was shelved for a couple of years until it was released in India in 1991. It had since earlier already been out in Soviet, but to little success. Ajooba proved to a be a big fiasco even in India. Why? Let's take a look.

Amitabh Bachchan is Ali, the thought-to-be-dead son to an imprisoned sultan. They shipwrecked, all survived - but didn't found each other after the accident. The mother turned blind and Ali was washed up and raised by a new family. The little kingdom is now ruled by a crazed magician, Vazir-E-Alla (the great Amrish Puri - just do an internet search on his name and you'll see what is his most famous movie) who controls the people with violence and black magic! But Ali can't stand this and transforms himself (and with that I mean he puts on a mask) to Ajooba, superhero and swashbuckler! A fantasy-version of Zorro! Together with his faithful friend Hassan (Rishi Kapoor) he strikes back to save his country and maybe even see his parents again!

What we have here is a good old adventure tale. Think Luigi Cozzi's Hercules, but with a big dose Zorro and Robin Hood. It's very old-fashioned, and I think that's the main reason it didn't hit off with the audience. Sure, Kapoor's direction has a lot to offer - it's stiff and quite unfunny - but I've seen worse and so have you all. Ajooba runs around on his horse, flashes his sword, falls in love and gets into fistfights with guards. Hassan is the comic relief and Vazir is as evil has he can be! Did the audience expect something else?

The co-production with the Soviet Union also gives a nice touch to the scenery and also a lot of extras running around in colourful costumes everywhere. The sets is just nicely painted plywood, but adds a lot to the fairy tale quality of the story. All actors are good, but as usual Amitabh Bachchan is the best - even if I sense some kind of tired "Fuck it, I won't even get money for this!"-look on his face from time to time. I'm sure he did his best, but after numerous flops I guess he might have been a bit tired of it all.

The pacing is a bit slow and it has to much dialogue and drama, but the action looks okay and the monsters - there's two of them - are rubbery fun. First there's some very strange sea creature who helps our heroes and then there's the Godzilla-big Golem statue wrecking havoc for a few minutes, kidnapping a character and looks at Ajooba and one of the bad guys fighting each other on a flying carpet! The miniature effects is really good, almost Japanese quality! The only country in the world that can't stand blood in family movies is the US, and because this isn't an American movie we actually get a some blood and cartoonish nasty deaths from time to time in Ajooba. That's good. It certainly spices up the action!

Not a masterpiece, but a nice matinee adventure. I liked it! Hope you like it also!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"but a nice matinee adventure"

Yeah...I would watch matinee adventures.