Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Random Movies I Like - The Gentleman (1994)

(On Dipta's request)

(I received my movie review training from "
The Guy's Guide to Guys' Videos" - that even had a section on "how to convince your girlfriend to watch this movie", immediately after "babe factor" section- so do not expect to find comparative style analysis between Bunuel and Trauffaut; or the Freudian dissection of a scene between Nirupa Roy and Amitabh and stuff like that. So, please read at your own risk.)

Mahesh Bhatt did not at all copy everything from Shankar's first movie "Gentleman". The self-ascribed 'showman' added a very significant "The" before the original Tamil title, replaced Madhu with Juhi Chawla, called up Anu Malik to Hindi-fy the original music and - most importantly - replaced water with Honey to be poured upon the heroine's navel in one of the most erotic scenes portrayed in 1990s. Bollywood had more budget in the pre-"Sivaji" days than the south.

Shankar's movies (Mudulvan, Indian etc) typically show common man taking his fight to the corrupt system and winning. While the means is not at all important, and mostly consists of twisting all possible laws, the hero always wins full approval from the mass after a fiery end- speech that justifies the cause. In "The Gentleman", Chiranjeevi plays a Robinhood who robs rich people to build a school that will train Doctors, Engineers and every possible profession one could imagine. Apparently, his brother had killed himself unable to pay the "donation" (known those days as "capitation fees") to one medical college.

I was comfortably ensconced in the cool of a pretty good Government run Engineering college that time, and was paying about Rs 300 (less than $10 a year) for the tuition for the whole year -- most of which went to pay the examination registration fees that I usually had to take multiple times to pass! But we all were aware of the dreaded "Bangalore Colleges" that used to charge 'ridiculous' monies merely for registration. So, I guess Chiranjeevi indeed should have been the hero, rather than our own Tapas Pal (whose character once actually sold his kidney to get some money for his family - "Saheb").

Anyways, we were on the last of our teenage years and watched very carefully Juhi Chawla writhing as Chiranjeevi's erect, glistening sword almost pierced through her tucked-in navel. As they say, pain is indeed mightier than the sword!

Our moral leaders were just overloaded to protest against all Govinda-Karishma Kapoor "double meaning" numbers and overlooked this.

In retrospect, one hopes the shot to pour honey on the navel was chronologically *after* the shot above. As some claim, one hopes honey indeed reduces swelling and scarring, and heals the wound faster.

Just in case anyone suspects creativity and originality of Mahesh Bhatt, let's see how the shots above looked like in the original Tamil version. As said before, in the Tamil version, the actress was Madhu.

Oh! It looks like they also changed the actual sword across two versions. The Bombay one is surely more reflective, one hopes, of deep inner creativity that Mr. Bhatt had gracefully lent to this movie as "director".

Remember that you heard it first at Gasbelly. Director Shankar has a navel fetish. Like in "Gentleman", in his later film "Mudulvan" (where an ordinary folk becomes Chief Minister for a day and change a lot in the system; later remade as "Nayak" in Hindi, I guess they could not have named it "The Mudulvan" in Hindi anymore) Manisha Koirala and Arjun (wearing the yellow shirt) pay good attention to each other's belly button. Now, isn't that navel? Oops, I mean novel!


Yenjie said...

The original Gentleman used coconut oil, not water, to massage Madhu's waist. The replacement of the oil by honey in the Hindi version was rather lame in my opinion.

Nilendu said...

Indeed! Coconut oil was never much popular in the northern parts of Vindya.