Actors: Shahrukh Khan and Vivek Mushran
Actresses: Juhi Chawla
Music Rating: 6 out of 10
Review: I don’t often venture into the world of Bollywood pre-1998. It seems that around the time of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai there was a massive shift in the production quality and singing styles (particularly for the female voice), both of which I much prefer in the more modern form. However, watching modern Bollywood creates a certain fan following for the popular actors. Seeing both Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla in this 1995 film Ram-Jaane sparked my interest, and I have to say that I was not at all disappointed.
Juhi Chawla was a vision of loveliness and I have never seen a movie in which Shahrukh gives a disappointing performance. The storyline was very good as well. Ram-Jaane, played by Shahruhk, and Murli, played by Vivek Mushran, are both orphans who become childhood friends. Ram-Jaane chooses a life of crime, whereas Murli chooses a life of service to others, most notably in the form of running an orphanage for boys. Bela, played by Juhi, was also a childhood friend of both, and both subsequently fell in love with her. Murli, who never thinks of himself, tries to have her end up with Ram-Jaane even though she loves Murli, but Murli believes that she can help reform Ram and turn him from the path of crime.
Ram-Jaane eventually becomes a crime boss and starts to use some of the older boys from Murli’s school in his crimial activity. Eventually caught by the police after trying to save Murli’s school and the boys from destruction, Ram-Jaane is sentenced to execution. It is only at this point, near the end of the movie, do I begin to think…”hey wait a minute! This seems familiar!” Wasn’t there some old Hollywood movie that had this plot? Something with James Cagney? A friend of mine suggested that it might be the 1938 film Angels With Dirty Faces, so I read the plot for the movie, and item for item it is nearly identical. I suppose it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise–Bollywood does this all the time, but I guess the fact that I didn’t pick up on it till the end provided the shock value. It is a great story though, so well worth the time. The one thing that Angels With Dirty Faces didn’t have was Juhi Chawla (or any loves interest if memory serves–The Murli character, afterall, was a Catholic priest), so that alone would make it wirth the price of admission. Speaking of Catholicism, I did notice pictures of the Immaculate Heart of Mary hanging up in the boys dorm even though the orphanage seemed to be mostly Hindi–perhaps it was an allusion to the earlier film.
Morality: Near the beginning of the movie there was a scene in which the boys of the school were running around in their underwear, and I think one might have been totally naked for a split second–not the kind of thing that would be tolerated in modern film, but apparently 1995 was a more innocent time for that kind of thing.
Songs of Note:
Pump Up the Bhangra
Bum Chiki Chiki Bum
Apun Ki Life Ka Hai To Pehla Love Song
Phenk Hawa Mein Ek Chuma
Chori Chori Chal Oh Gori