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|March 6, 1999||
It makes you see red
Did the director just hand over the signing amount? Did he dwell on the double role Amitabh would play, that of father and son. Did he stress on the chance he would get to speak a north Indian rural dialect, that he would star opposite younger stars like Manisha Koirala and Shilpa Shetty, have Nirupa Roy play his mother for the umpteenth time, do his famed drunk dance, snap like rubber bands the ropes that bind him despite being shot in both arms... What??
Maybe he did Lal Badshah because K C Bokadia gave him a surprise hit in Aaj Ka Arjun when Toofan, Jaadugar and Ganga Jamuna Saraswati flopped! Maybe he wasn't certain why about the movies he wanted in his comeback. After all, this was one of the first films he picked on his return...
The baddies include Mukesh Rishi, who is also a superintendent of police; Raghuvaran, his spoilt brother who claims he is the king of Bombay; Mahesh Anand, their lame uncle who rules the stables in town. Amrish Puri is the ancient baddie who used to be a minister in the cabinet of a small-time raja. He also has this thing against the older Amitabh because the latter guarded the treasury and didn't let anyone pilfer its contents without the king's clearance.
Manisha Koirala plays a life insurance agent who falls for the hero. She doesn't do much other except dance in one sequence and hang around for a bit of the first half, then vanishing to reappear when the goons get into the mood for rape.
Nirupa Roy does the role of the woman who brings up Lal Singh but the lady who plays his real mother could pass off as his daughter at a pinch. For the older Amitabh, Ver 1.0, Bokadia apparently dredged up his get-up in Akhri Raasta and put in some more hair to hide the flaws. Presto, we have one long-suffering father.
All this nothing to take from Bachchan's own performance. It would take a Herculean effort to salvage a film like this. And he's tried. Bachchan is a natural with comedy, he can sleepwalk through the ma-beta bits, he can look convincing as a saviour, and he might even have salvaged the drunken dance scene hadn't they come up with a ghastly rhythm to go along with it.
It may be bit of pointless trivia, but in every action sequence Bachchan takes on about a dozen or so baddies and peppers them with large pots. The pots happen to be around everywhere, in the goons' hideout, the uncle's den or the climax sequence.
Aadesh Shrivastava's music provides nothing very catchy beyond Dhanno ki aankh, and the person who provides the background score dishes out either stock music or a score so original that it grates on your nerves every time it turns up. The only good thing about the film is Amitabh himself even if he has been ill-used.
Lal Badshah is an insult to Amitabh Bachchan's stature and an assault on public intelligence.
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