Baazigar was suggested to me as a great example of Shahrukh Khan playing a bad guy, and generally as one of the better Bollywood movies from the nineties. Although I've seen worse, I can't help being disappointed. Baazigar is not a good movie at all.
First of all, the movie is way too long for such a thin scenario. The first hour is so boring that I had to fight the temptation to switch it off and watch something else instead. Knowing that Bollywood movies can be utterly boring in their first half and then completely smashing in the second, I decided to wait a bit and give it a chance. And rightly so, because something suddenly starts happening when Ajay throws his girlfriend Seema off a roof. Unfortunately, the next hour is equally boring, and only the third hour of the movie is worth the effort somehow.
Now, I am not a fan of Shahrukh Khan at all, but I have to admit that in Baazigar he excels. I have seen him play bad guys more than once, sometimes better, sometimes worse, but the psycho in Baazigar is undoubtedly his best creation in the field. It is good to see him in his older work, long before he became the professional super-star he is today, the Hugh Grant of the Indian screen.
And that is about the only positive thing that can be said about Baazigar. All the other roles... completely flat characters and generally poor acting. Granted, Kajol does her best to make from her little interesting part whatever she can, but Shilpa Shetty's performance as Seema is more than embarrassing: one would wonder why she was ever allowed to play in a movie again. Equally irritating are the so-called comic elements in the movie, as usual centered around a Johnny Lever who keeps shouting, jumping around and trying to be funny. Perhaps there is something about Indian humour that I cannot grasp, but in my perception this kind of breaks are just silly, annoying and definitely not funny.
The idea of the movie is not bad, but the resulting scenario is weak and full of holes. The little boy yelling for revenge at the beginning had better been left out. After all, it's obvious that this is the young Ajay; who else could it be? Without that scene, Ajay suddenly throwing Seema off the roof would have come as a total surprise. Instead, as soon as they find themselves on the roof, we know what will happen. Sure, the roof scene works anyway, but not as strongly as it could. A missed opportunity for a surprise like in "Fanaa". Anyway, I don't quite understand WHY he had to kill Seema in the first place (except for the fact that it was a bad actress playing a hopeless role). After all, Ajay's purpose was taking over Madan's company, just like Madan had once done to Ajay's father. What then was the need for killing his daughter, as well as two other innocent people? He wanted to take away everything from Madan, including his family, you say? Okay, fine, but if so, why didn't he kill Priya as well?
This is not the only thing I find hard to cope with. Take Priya for example. She makes a horrible entrance as an unsympathetic, nasty, spoiled and arrogant bitch. Five minutes later she suddenly turns out a nice and sweet dream girl, and stays like that till the end of the movie. Why, oh, why? Or take Ajay's mother. She has been in a heavy shock for many years: she hardly speaks, does not remember who is who, etc. And then, just before the end of the movie, she just hears Madan's voice, and whooooops, within less than a minute she becomes a completely normal person who remembers everything, recognises everybody, and speaks normally... as if nothing had ever happened.
And then the finale, another example of bad script writing. The story could have gained a little credibility if Ajay had remained a psycho until his very end. Sure, he had his reasons, we knew that from the very beginning. However, in the last minutes of the movie he suddenly becomes a knight of justice, essentially a good guy with a more than human face. How can one possibly buy it that near the end everybody great-heartedly forgives him? Even Priya appears to forget with surprising ease, that this is the same guy who killed her beloved sister and two other innocent people in cold blood. As if that had just been a minor error on his part.
All in all, a bad movie from almost every point of view. Shahrukh Khan's work is excellent, but not enough to save it.
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