First off, Shikari has Govinda playing his first negative role.
No big secret. The makers have been tomtoming that fact.
And if you needed more confirmation, watch the very first scene: Govinda escapes from jail, dons a disguise to reach South Africa and kill off a very wealthy man (Nirmal Pandey).
The rest of the film? It's is all about Govinda killing off anyone who realises he committed the first murder.
LET me talk about the genre of the film and its director N Chandra.
This was the same director who made a hard-hitting, raw film with newcomers called Ankush. It was an honest film. And a big hit.
Then he made Pratighaat, also a big hit, which made Sujata Mehta an overnight star. Quite a mean feat since it was a woman oriented film.
He topped off the list with Tezaab, the biggest hit of his career.
Since then, it has been a downslide for him, not just in terms of performance at the BO, but also the quality of his films per se and their content.
N Chandra is fond of romanticising crime and criminals in his films.
But he shifts gears into the genre of thrillers, trying to merge a psychological thriller with a psychopathic thriller. And then bundling up sociological reasoning to trim off the black shades in the character to make the audience sympathise with the villian. All ingredients to defeat the very purpose you start off with.
N Chandra tends to lead you by the hand to show his hero as a real bad guy. And then, at the climax, launches into an intense flashback of the injustices suffered by the villain/hero, which have made him thus.
It is not just betraying your character. It is also a bad narrative.
The flashback reveals that Govinda was put in jail because he was accused for stealing something. Yet all through the film, word goes that a killer escaped from India. And he doesn't commit his first murder till he comes to SA.
To muddle things further, Kiron Kher lands in SA after being accused of letting Govinda escape, and declares, "I will see to it that he hangs for his crimes."
What crime? Stealing?
NOW for the bare bones of the story. A supposed vicious criminal has escaped from jail, goes to SA to avenge the injustice done to him (the climactic flashback). He also makes the sister (Karisma Kapoor) of the man he has murdered fall in love with him.
Thus leading to the biggest stumble in the script. Govinda was in love with Tabu (who was married to Nirmal Pandey). He escapes to get her back.
But if he kills off Pandey in the first 20 minutes of the film why the hell does he woo Karisma Kapoor? His intention is never to harm her anyway.
Shouldn't he concentrate on wooing the righteous character played by Tabu back in his arms?
The pace of the film is further hampered by the six songs inserted into the film, out of which only two are decent. For the other four sons, Chandra creates cliched situations and simply hampers his own narrative.
The story penned by him uses far too many plot devices which are a mere excuse to cook up something. Johnny Lever's character is simply an excuse to get around sticky situations in the plot of the story.
Govinda's entry into Pandey's household is simply too easy.
What is just howlarious is when Sushma Seth, who is the mother of the murdered Pandey, tells Govinda to take away Tabu with him to India since she knows they loved each other. Funny thing is that when she says this, Tabu is shown lying unconcious after hearing that Karisma has disappeared, presumed dead. Talk about taking the easy way out!
Since his last film Wajood, Chandra has been making his lead actors don various wigs and masks. Nana Patekar did so in Wajood.
This time, Govinda wears a disguise which looks as fake and clumsy as Dharmendra would look playing a college student.
Govinda, however, tries his best to infuse energy into his role. And succeeds. However, there are parts where you wish Chandra had toned him down now and then -- he does tend ham a bit too much.
Tabu is wasted; so is Karisma. Though both try to do their best in roles which haven't been given enough scenes to mature.
THE release of the film just raises one question for me: how come Maneka Gandhi did not object to the relase of this flick?
The beginning of the film has a leading Bollywood actress, Karisma Kapoor, chasing a cheetah (an endangered species), in a jeep. Nirmal Pandey, in a helicopter, finally shoots it dead. Five minutes into the film, Pandey shoots down his pet dog.
Maneka Gandhi had put a spanner in the works of Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya because in the promos, Manisha Koirala playfully tugs at the tail of the baby elephant. She screamed cruelty to animals from the rooftops. But showing a cheetah being shot down and a dog dying a dog's death is a different matter, I guess, since they both happened to be killed in South Africa.
The cinematography and editing of Shikari are sleek, the action sequences done with panache.
In sum, Shikari, it is a film that has its moments with very little holding it together.