June 21, 2002 
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Awara Paagal Deewana
Akshay, Sunil, Aftab's star power fails
Paresh Rawal steals the show

Anjum N

Director Vikram Bhatt graciously accepted responsibility for the debacle of his last film Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage. Looks like he will have to do the same again.

His latest offering, Awara Paagal Deewana, has all it takes to make a successful Hindi potboiler. Huge starcast (Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani, Paresh Rawal), big budget, foreign locations, stunts, comedy. Yet he fails to deliver that important component: wholesome entertainment.

An old man (Om Puri) leaves behind a will that makes his willing-to-fight-to-death son Vikrant (Rahul Dev) and son-in-law Guru Gulab Khatri (Akshay Kumar) want to kill each other. But then, they would have killed each other anyway --- the in-laws are actually deadly outlaws. And Preeti (Jhangiani) happens to be Vikrant's stepsister and Guru's namesake wife.

So no way the woman can unite the men.

The old man has tucked away diamonds, worth a thousand million rupees, in a New York bank. These can be claimed only if the three sign the relevant papers together. Or, in case of death of one or more, if a proper death certificate is produced.

Aftab Shivdasani and Amrita Arora in Awara Paagal Deewana Wonder why the old man did not divide the wealth himself and give them their share.

Vikrant murders a politician to trap Guru, who escapes to a pre-September 11 New York (the WTC is visible prominently throughout). Here, he moves into the neighbourhood of a harassed husband Anmol (Aftab Shivdasani) and father-in-law Manilal (Paresh Rawal) and their wives Mona (Amrita Arora) and Paramjeet (Supriya Pilgaonkar).

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News that Guru is worth Rs 20 million reaches Anmol and Manilal. They rush to India and inform Vikrant of Guru's whereabouts. Vikrant sends his henchmen Yeda Anna (Sunil Shetty) and Chotta Chatri (Johny Lever), with the henpecked husbands and reaches New York himself for a fight-to-finish climax.

Before this, Yeda Anna is attracted to Anmol's wife, Anmol falls in love with Guru's wife and Anmol's secretary (Aarti Chhabria), loves the married Guru.

Final fight over, the lovers also have to get the other divorced, which they do. Phew! The climax is an unending saga in itself.

Of the cast, Paresh Rawal dominates throughout. In a comic role similar to Hera Pheri and Aankhen, he delivers a hilarious performance and looks set for more Best Actor in a Comic Role awards.

Akshay Kumar and Aarti Chhabria in a still from Awara Paagal Deewana Akshay goes through the motions. The sincerity and intensity seen in Hera Pheri, Ek Rishtaa -- The Bond Of Love and Aankhen seems missing here. However, his action scenes are interestingly done and will be a big draw --- for those not used to seeing the best of international cinema.

For the rest, it is only a desi version of all the Crouching Tigers and Matrixes seen before. Some daredevil stunts go overboard, even by Hindi film standards.

Wonder what made Aftab Shivdasani sign this one --- he has not one scene worth mentioning. And to think the same director gave Aftab his only hit, Kasoor.

Sunil Shetty is painful. Rahul Dev, Johny Lever and Om Puri are just okay.

Among the heroines, Preeti Jhangiani continues her sympathy-seeking married act from Mohabattein. The experience of having done it earlier does not help much.

Sunil Shetty and Amrita Arora in a still from Awara Paagal Deewana Aarti Chabbria displays more skin than acting talent. Amrita Arora needs help --- both with her acting and the choice of her career. Supriya Pilgaonkar is not impressive.

Anu Maliik's music is a disaster. Except for Jise hasna rona hai and Yaa Habibi, the rest should not even have been recorded.

Director Bhatt should concentrate on what he does best --- make small budget, non star cast films (Ghulam being an exception). Here, he shows his capability in handling the comic scenes well --- there weren't many light scenes in his earlier films. But overall, he fails to hold the audience's attention.

See the film only if you are a diehard fan of Rawal's comic talent or Akshay's action scenes.

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