BALWAAN (1992)

  • Release Date: 11/09/1992
  • Cast: Suniel Shetty, Danny Denzongpa, Divya Bharti, Tinnu Anand, Anjana Mumtaz
  • Director: Deepak Anand

The 1990s was the time when Bollywood commercial films were at their colorful and outrageous best. These were the days when Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty were gradually changing the way martial arts was looked at in Bollywood films. This was after Ajay Devgan had done his bits in the department. Sadly and hilariously enough, I believed these action sequences to be what martial arts was all about. It would be decades later that I would watch Jackie Chan and Jet Li films and realize what alternate universe of martial arts films I was living on.

Balwaan was Suniel Shetty’s debut film and it was one of those hyper-charged over the top action films that bordered on being an exploitation flick thanks to its unabashed action, violence and the sheer amount of lecherous crime committed against women. These were the films where the hero was given a sister so that she could be raped by the baddies. However, it was lapped up by testosterone-charged action junkies who swore by the name of this film even though it didn’t make it to the list of the highest-grossing films for that year, it made enough noise and money to make Suniel Shetty a bankable star

Arjun Singh Baksh (Suniel Shetty) is a hot-headed youth who cannot tolerate injustice and goes to any extent to do what he thinks is just. He grows up, Joins College and it is here that he meets his lady love Deepa played by Divya Bharati. One of Arjun’s friends, Raju Shrestha tries to save two girls from being raped in their college’s ladies toilet by Pankaj Berry who happens to be some minister’s son. The authorities call the cops as the two youths are fighting it off in the college corridors. The police arrives and beats up Raju instead of Pankaj. Raju apparently gets kicked in the nuts so bad that he on the verge of dying. Apparently, the cop knows Pankaj as he is the minister’s son and does all he can to save his skin albeit in a hilarious fashion. In retaliation, Arjun goes and beats up the police officer in his police station and also pummels the minister’s son.

In the meantime Divya Bharati brings her soon to be retired Commissioner father, Tinnu Anand and shows him the unprecedented brutality meted out by the police that led to the death of Raju. The father helps Arjun avoid prison and inspires him to join the police force. Arjun obliges. During his training, Arjun beats up a trainer who refuses to let him use his jeep to bring another compatriot (who has sustained serious injuries during training) to the hospital. This dude dies too declared hilariously by a doctor who looks like he was just waiting to deliver the terrible news. The commissioner intervenes again and Arjun is saved again from facing penal action. Soon he becomes an inspector and is posted to the uproariously named Shaitan Chowki. As the name suggests, this is the worst area in town and is ruled by Bhaiji (Danny Denzongpa). His catch line is “Aag Pani aur Bhaiji se nai takrate. Aag jalata hai, Paani dubata hai aur Bhaiji Tadpata hai” (meaning: don’t mess with fire, water and Bhaiji. Fire burns, water sinks and Bhaiji torments).

Arjun end up at Shaitan Chowki and immediately lands into a tussle with Bhaiji. He arrests him for the murder of a fellow police officer and throws him behind bars only to find out that he made his way out of jail even before Arjun could reach back home. Now Bhaiji goes full-tilt boogie on him and twists and turns situations in such ways that Arjun loses his police commission, Tinnu Anand has his hands chopped, Neena Gupta, the widow of the slain police inspector for whose murder Arjun arrested Bhaiji is gang-raped to death, Arjun’s sister commits suicide when she realizes that she can’t escape rape from Bhaiji and his mother dies too. With nothing left for him but revenge, Arjun escapes from police custody and comes looking for Bhaiji and all the others who were instrumental in the destruction of his life and family.

Balwaan is an unintentionally funny film that is so bad that it is actually good. This is a film that I can watch on any given day simply because of how outrageous and nonsense it is. Let’s start with the protagonist, Suniel Shetty. This is a film about him as most launch vehicles of the 1990s used to be. The rest of the characters are there just to let him flex his muscles and show off those acting skills that he didn’t have at that point of time. Suniel Shetty turns in his career-worst performances in his debut film. At that point in time, his act might have gone down well with many who were used to much worse but when you see the film today, it is bound to make you rollover with laughter. He is so overtly dramatic and inept in the dramatic bits that I fell repeated from my chair laughing. The scenes where he is shouting at the top of his voice informing Bhaiji that he will kill him are the funniest. Even though they are intentioned to make you boil with hatred for Bhaiji, they instead make us laugh. It must also be added that the film has some of the most atrociously funny dialogues that I have ever heard in a film.

Most of these dialogues are mouthed by a character that you least expect them for it to come from. Anjana Mumtaz plays one of the best worst mothers of all times. She is so unsure of her son’s superhuman might that her questioning Suniel Shetty’s ability from time to time becomes one of the funniest aspects of the film. Suniel Shetty is about to pull off a daredevil stunt to win 1 lakh rupees that he plans to donate to his friend Mukesh and save his mother’s life. As he is about to perform the stunt, his mother arrives with his sister and she demoralizes the man to an extent that I thought that he might just give up the idea of the stunt.

Suniel Shetty: “Mujhe Ashirvaad de Maa” (bless me mother, in my endeavors)

Anjana Mumtaz: “Kaun maa apne bete to marne ka Ashirvaad de sakti hai beta?” (Which mother is ready to bless her son to die?)

The discussion goes on a lot longer and to hilarious effects.

The two lecherous police inspectors who Arjun beat up earlier get Divya Bharati on the bed in an unconscious state and yet they are so busy drooling over her fully clad body and shrugging off their sweat on her face, that Suniel Shetty recovers from an unconscious state and has enough time to push the cage he was held up in (That must have weighed a ton) towards the men. He goes on to collapse the cage on one of the men, get hold of a sword and stab him. This begs the question, why he didn’t do it all along when Divya Bharati was being forced to perform an item number for the goons.

From here on the film shifts to an out and out action mode and after half a dozen fight, it ends with Suniel Shetty shooting Danny Denzongpa and Avatar Gill playing a high ranking police official showing him the handcuffs even after him killing Danny meant that Avatar Gill would live to see another day. I can practically pick apart every scene of the film but that would make this review as long as a book. Suffice is to say that this is a film that should be watched for its sheer entertainment value. It may not rate right up there with the likes of Mithun Chakraborty’s Gunda, but it is still a film that will entertain you with it’s over the top treatment, terrible performances, insane dialogues, and hilarious screenplay.

Rating: 2/5 (2 out of 5 Stars)  

Here is the link to the full movie :

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