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April 30, 1997


'It is sad to see a middle-aged man trying to recapture the panache and elan that was his trademark in his heyday'

Perhaps the strongest indictment of Amitabh Bachchan's comeback film comes from the two Bollywood trade journals, Film Information and Super Box Office. Readers may like to check out the reviews which provide ample reasons why Mrityudaata appears like some celluloid Titanic.

Film Information:

ABCL's Mrityudaatais too routine a film to be made for the comeback of an actor who has been the superstar for years. It has absolutely no novelty, either in content or in presentation. In fact, the story gives the impression that writer-director Mehul Kumar was bankrupt of ideas and did not even make an attempt to offer something fresh to the audience. Screenplay is as pathetic as the story.

Dialogue writer Jalees Sherwani seems to have got so excited about his job that he has written long and unending lines of dialogues which sermonise, preach and bore more than anything else. Quite frankly, the film is so verbose that it gets on the audience's nerves after a while, especially because subjects of this kind have been handled umpteen times earlier.

The story is about a middle-aged surgeon whose brother is killed by an evil politician and a don. The shock is too much for the doctor's wife to bear and she too dies. This puts the doctor in such a state of depression that he drowns himself in alcohol everyday. Being a very skillful surgeon, he is extremely sought-after and, therefore, performs operations in an inebriated state!

How the medical profession permits such doctors to even enter the operation theater is conveniently not touched upon. When the surgeon is pushed against the wall by the politician and the don and he learns that they were responsible for the deaths of his brother and wife, the life-saving doctor dons a new mantle. He vows to wipe out the enemies of the country and become a life-taker.

The first half is shockingly dull and fails to evoke any interest or participation of the viewer. The pace picks up to some extent just before interval so that the second half is relatively better. But the sermonising impact is so great that the film turns out to be devoid of any entertainment value.

Amitabh Bachchan has done a good job but he has failed on two counts: Firstly, his choice of subject to stage a comeback is wrong and secondly, he looks fat, old and tired. Dimple Kapadia has no role worth her while and she does fairly well. The scenes and song of young Amitabh and Dimple are boring.

Karisma Kapoor performs very ably but she suffers on account of poor characterisation -- she is almost a vamp who walks out on the hero and marries the villain's son! Add to that, she is made to become a widow soon after her marriage. Arbaaz Ali Khan is bad and neither looks nor acts like a hero. Paresh Rawal is effective. Ashish Vidhyarthi performs well but has too much to talk and so tends to bore. Mukesh Rishi has been given a role longer than he can handle. Mushtaq Khan is extremely impressive and comes up with a truly free performance. Pran leaves a mark in a guest appearance. Deepak Tijori is all right and so is Asif Sheikh. Avtar Gill, Tiku Talsania, Dinesh Hingoo and Farida Jalal (in a guest role) lend good support. Vikas Anand, Mukesh Rawal, Dharmesh Tiwari, Mulraj Rajda, Namdeo Lahute and the others provide average support. Daler Mehndi appears in a song-dance which is excellent.

Mehul Kumar handles a poor story even more poorly. Anand Milind's music is fair but a film of this canvas deserved a hit score. The Daler Mehndi song is superb and has also been picturised beautifully. It comes at the appropriate time to break the tension and monotony. Other song picturisations lack imagination. Camerawork is not up to the mark. Background music is all right and sound effects could have been better. Action should have been more exciting and stylised.

Super Box Office:

ABCL'S Mrityudaata, directed by Mehul Kumar, is a tragic film not because of the several people who periodically die during the course of the film but because of the hopes and aspirations that die as the film progresses.

The first blow is dealt to the successful return of Amitabh Bachchan. It is sad to see a middle-aged man trying to recapture the panache and elan that was his trademark in his heyday. Agreed he plays an older man than he did earlier but in all cinematic ways, he is still the same Vijay of old.

But the biggest blow is death to the hype that a returned Amitabh Bachchan would inject the much needed pep into the industry. This is the biggest disappointment.

The film itself is as routine as any other action-revenge film more suited to the talent of a run-of-the-mill action star than the legendary Amitabh Bachchan. And that, for the millions who have adored him over the years, is a terrible loss.

Mrityudaata is so ordinary that nothing can save it. Not Amitabh's return, not Dimple Kapadia, not the current No 1 heroine Karisma Kapoor, not anything.

The film abounds in caricatures. Not one person is characterised well and even the standard formula is made a hash of. It is more a case of villain against villain and less of hero versus villain. In fact, the main villain, Paresh Rawal, enters the scene as a villain long after Amitabh's brother has been killed and that s the main cause for revenge. The film totally lacks tender moments and when everyone is not screaming themselves hoarse there is an inane dance sequence going on.

Amitabh Bachchan is, of course the character central to the film and dominates it completely, specially the second half, by when everyone else is either dead or forgotten. Sadly, he has lost the conviction that kept viewers glued to the seats and is unable to hold attention. He looks old and despite all the talk about playing his age, is expected to perform action befitting a man in his twenties and this does not jell. And then fighting with the young ones like Deepak Tijori and some minor artistes hardly befits his stature.

Dimple Kapadia is okay, Karisma Kapoor in a very-badly written role does not rise above it and Arbaaz Ali Khan is, to put it mildly, wooden. He is stiff in dances. Pran is bad. Daler Mehndi's song provides the only moments of interest.

The three major villains, Paresh Rawal, Ashish Vidhyarthi and Mukesh Rishi, are called upon to display their vocal skills more than their acting capacity and all are noisy and loud.

Mehul Kumar, whose story and screenplay too the film has, has goofed badly. The story is pathetic and old fashioned, the shooting tacky, the background music strident and intrusive and the film completely lacks coherence, logic and reason.

Music by Anand-Milind is functional.

Technically, the film is below par. Dialogue are good but often forced into the situation. Cinematography by Rusi Billimoria lacks finesse. Editing by Yusuf Shaikh is patchy. Production values are way below par.

On the whole, Mrityudaata has the makings of a major disaster and a blow to the trade.