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October 3, 1998


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Sharmila Taliculam

Salman Khan and Rambha in Bandhan. Click for bigger pic!
Bandhan claims to be a film on eternal bonds -- the bond between sisters and brothers, between parents and children, husbands and wives and so forth. Every one of them, except the James and Resurgent India varieties.

But the director fortunately limits himself the one between one elder sister (Ashwini Bhave) and a younger brother (Salman Khan), parted in birth by a decade or so.

The maker thought he found a winner in this tear-jerker, but there he too was a few decades behind -- it might have been a hit in the 60s, not the late 90s.

The initial scenes assure you of the love they share. So when the sister wants to get a shirt stitched for the brother, he promptly goes and gets a blouse stitched instead -- he can't stand the wolves casting lusty looks on his sister because she wears a torn one.

Jackie Shroff, Ashwini Bhave, Salman Khan and Rambha in Bandhan. Click for bigger pic!
Soon after, you meet the village thakur, Jackie Shroff, who thinks the sister is some kind of good luck charm and wants to marry her. It's another thing that he treats her like a doormat and walks all over her. She is the Indian wife who thinks it's the thing to do.

Then steps in dancer Shweta Menon, who has this ability to lure the affluent and peck the riches off them. But she can't stand it if a man doesn't glance her way. And the final ingredient, Rambha, who plays the city-educated sister of the thakur, who falls for designer jean clad village bumpkin that Salman plays.

Click for bigger pic!
So then, Ashwini on the day she gets married, hauls off the brother to her home and makes him what looks mighty like an errand boy to us. No education for you, just do as the thakur tells you to, he's advised. A line the bumpkin repeats. But if there is a more important idea in his head, it is that no one should make his sister cry.

Enter the dancer, who eyes the thakur. Mere man he, he succumbs. But he has the cheek to say that if anybody loves him, they should tolerate everything he does, including his chasing the dancer. When the brother-in-law disagrees, chap gets tossed out the door.

Meanwhile, the thakur's sister tries her best to seduce the bumpkin. Succeeds follows a sharp slap on the face. Why do our actors fall in love only after being slapped? Any ideas out there? Happens so often in Hindi cinema, it's pretty intriguing.

Click for bigger pic!
The thakur gets so involved with the dancer, he even marries her...

The film is cringe-making at times. There is a scene where he tells the wife that he could as well be dead for her, so could she wear a traditional white sari like a widow. And, hey, doesn't the woman agree?

There is no proper continuity in the film. You get a feeling that there's something missing somewhere always. Take for example of the love the brother and sister share. Quite forgotten after the lady marries off. The songs are mediocre and only one is worth the humming, Tere naina mere naino ki kyon bhasha bole.

Click for bigger pic!
Ashwini Bhave looks pretty bored with the whole deal. Even in the emotional bits, she look as if she is really trying hard to be sad. Clearly, she lost interest after a point. Jackie goes through his role with his usual panache. Not much effort needed, she only has to go through the motions. Thunder thighs Rambha gyrates on the village green in short fluorescent minis and skirts. Actually it doesn't matter; she doesn't have much of a role anyway beyond that. Shweta Menon as the seductress is gross. The less said about her the better.

Salman looks good, but hardly looks a village bumpkin in leather boots and jeans. But then, our films defied logic always. This is Salman's third release this year and unlike the earlier two, this will most definitely bomb. Bandhan is an out and out loser.

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