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|September 4, 1999||
Blood and gore!
But finally, the film is all blood, gore and violence. Tanuja Chandra's second directorial venture is certainly more violent than her debut, Dushman.
Reet Oberoi (Preity Zinta), a CBI officer, comes to Bombay to track down psychopath Lajjashankar Pandey (Ashutosh Rana). She is asked to seek the help of another criminal, Aman Verma aka Professor (Akshay Kumar), in her hunt for the killer.
Oberoi, who has a tragic past, meets the jailed criminal and falls in love with him. But she professes she hates all criminals. This is where the conflict begins. Or so the film would have us believe.
There is no doubting that Sangharsh is an Indianised version of Silence Of The Lambs. The only difference is that the character played by Anthony Hopkins in the Hollywood film is split into two here: one is the professor, the other the psychopath.
The professor happens to be an extremely intelligent man, who keeps abreast of all the happenings in the world outside from his cell. He can 'smell' people and judge them immediately. He has this library -- in jail! -- and he keeps quoting from his books. That is why he is called 'professor,' not because of his educational qualifications!
The scene where the officer comes to meet the charming and dangerous criminal is a frame-to-frame copy of the one from Lambs. Just as the rape and murder scene in Dushman, was a copy of the English original, Eye For An Eye.
Akshay Kumar as the intelligent, charming and acid-tongued criminal is inconsistent. He does a good job in some scenes, but falters in others. He is not really an actor who can portray such a complex character with ease. The effort is visible, and sometimes he tends to ham.
His skills are especially suspect in the scene when he meets Preity for the first time. He smells the air to gauge who she is and then tries to judge her with a look of intensity. He is hardly convincing. He comes into his own in the action scenes which, as is well known, are his forte. His character in Sangharsh, though strong, falls flat because of his non-performance.
Preity, as the young, impressionable officer, is convincing, though her wide eyed, always-a-little-scared approach does get monotonous after a while. She is no Jodie Foster, but has appeal. She looks good in her designer suits and was, perhaps, the right choice for the role because she looks young and vulnerable.
The only character who suits the role to a T is Rana. As Lajjashankar Pandey, he is as disgusting as a psychopath is supposed to be and portrays his role with chilling verve. He kills children, believing he will live forever by doing so. He doesn't blink before sinking his teeth into his victims and killing them, a la the Transylvanian count. Very macabre, indeed.
Some scenes are quite gripping -- and those are the ones inspired by the original. The editing is swift throughout, adding to the film's pace.
Mahesh Bhatt, who has written the script, has borrowed the concept from Lambs and Indianised it. Hannibal Lecter was an intelligent man and a cannibal at the same time. But we can't have a desi turning into a cannibal. So instead, we have a hero who is a criminal, but transforms into a good man and a villain who remains bad throughout.
Sangharsh may or may not do well at the turnstiles. If you are a Mahesh Bhatt fan, you may find it watchable. If you are not, give it a miss.
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