KRANTIVEER (1994)

  • Release Date: 22/07/1994
  • Cast: Nana Patekar, Dimple Kapadia, Atul Agnihotri, Mamta Kulkarni, Paresh Rawal, Danny Denzongpa, Tinnu Anand
  • Director: Mehul Kumar

Pratap (Nana Patekar) as a kid was a rebel. He dropped out of school and spent most of his time playing cards and convincing other kids of his village to do so with him. His grandfather, who was a former revolutionary and had very high hopes from Pratap couldn’t bear the shock of realizing that his grandson was a degenerate and has been lying to his mother and him for months. He has a heart attack and dies. Pratap’s mother is crestfallen at this loss and more so because it was catapulted by her son’s actions. She beats Pratap out of the village and tells him never to come back. Pratap boards a bus without knowing where it is headed and ends up in Mumbai.

Pratap saves the life of a drowning kid who turns out to be the son of a landlord, Laxmi Prasad (Paresh Rawal). Laxmi Prasad is impressed by the gusto and raw attitude of Pratap and recruits him to run his errands across the neighborhood that he owns. Pratap grows up in Laxmi Nagar and is like a son to Laxmi Prasad. Laxmi Prasad’s son, Atul (Atul Agnihotri) whom Pratap had saved from drowning grows up with him and is very fond of Pratap. Atul is in love with Mamta (Mamta Kulkarni) who is the daughter of a famous builder Jograj (Tinnu Anand). A journalist Megha Dixit (Dimple Kapadia) also resides in Laxmi Nagar. She is referred to as the “Kalam Wali Bai” by Pratap and he often taunts her for trying to change the world by writing articles in the newspaper. Megha despises Pratap’s ways but she also believes that he has the power in his words and action to inspire others to do the right thing. Pratap is gloriously dismissive of all that Megha wants him to do and is busy running petty scams, helping Atul woo Mamta and solve minor issues related to Laxmi Nagar. In doing all this, he adds his trademark sarcasm to every word that comes out of his mouth.

About the same time, the chief minister of the state, the leader of opposition of the state, Jograj and a marauding gangster who goes by the name of Chatur Singh Cheetah (Danny Denzongpa) hatch a series of plans for filling their pockets that effects the peaceful existence of the people Laxmi Nagar. Megha fearlessly exposes the nexus of the politicians, businessmen and the gangster in her newspaper articles and this results in the gangster paying her a visit at Laxmi Nagar. Pratap dispatches them all off but before leaving they open a can of worms pointing to Megha’s sinister past. The rest of the film is about answering the questions —how Pratap gets embroiled in the conflict, what he does to save Laxmi Nagar, What is Megha’s past and how is it linked to the antagonists.

I love Krantiveer now. With every subsequent viewing, this film’s appeal has increased for me. After watching it again and again, I was finally able to separate what was improbable in the screenplay and what was not. Interestingly enough there wasn’t a lot of it that was impossible and that just made the film that much more entertaining for me. Unlike Tirangaa, that took a quantum leap over all things believable, Krantiveer is a film about common people who are tormented to such an extent by the antagonists that they are left with no other option but to rise up in rebellion. A large chunk of the film’s first half is spent on petty issues of the colony, the forced romantic angles, exploring Pratap’s thought process through some of these issues and also understanding the nexus between the political leaders, the gangster, and the builder. The buildup is so apt and engrossing that the film gets a firm hold of your senses and uses this control to make everything that happens later believable.

I just loved the little bit they did with a widow of the colony. She starts off as one tormented by her in-laws and in the span of three sequences, her character metamorphs into a woman who is not only capable of holding her own but is also in a position to save herself from men who are there to take her away into prostitution. Pratap does all this using nothing more than words. There are ample light moments too and these are all well done. When the film dwells on Megha’s past, it is done so wonderfully. This portion doesn’t feel forced nor does the song that appears in between. It also gives us an idea of why Megha is so determined to fight against Chatur Singh Cheetah and his injustice on the people.

Nana Patekar delivers one of his best performances to date in this film. If I am not wrong, he even got a national award for it and it is totally justified. Seldom have we got one man carry a film on his fiery performance the way Nana Patekar does here. He is so full of energy that he forces the other performers to up their ante. People of this generation make fun of Nana Patekar’s monologues but just to imagine the man deliver all those monologues with the kind of intensity that he does makes me respect his craft even more. One aspect of Nana Patekar’s performances that I have always noticed has been the amount of physicality that he brings to the action sequences. If I am not mistaken, he does most of his action sequences himself and that lets him bring the right expression and physicality to the action making them realistic and endlessly enjoyable. One can experience the same here too.

Danny Denzongpa is the ever hateful baddy here and he does what he does best. He sports a bandana all throughout the film and it just adds to the overall appeal of his character. It is hard to put a finger on why, but the man looks more menacing with the bandana. Chatur Singh Cheetah is a vile, sadistic and foxy player but has an aura about him that is undeniable. There is a nice signature tune associated with the character and it plays out at the right moments to accentuate our feelings for the man. Paresh Rawal is wonderful as Laxmi Prasad. When he comes under duress from the baddies and tries to confide in Pratap, it results in a scene that is emotionally satisfying and dramatically gratifying. His comic timing is impeccable too and he works out a wonderful camaraderie with Nana Patekar to makes these comic bits work even better. Dimple Kapadia is not only serene to look at but does an extremely convincing job with her character. One look at her and you feel that she could be the journalist that she was playing. The sequences where her past is revealed, her character attains a different kind of energy that is infectious and elevates her performance.

All other supporting cast members do their part well. I particularly liked the give and takes between the two political leaders played by Mushtaq Khan and Ishrat Ali. These two men have been around for a long time in Bollywood films in the 1990s and even though they play the same version of themselves in different avatars, they are always likable. Tinnu Anand is also someone who is regular in these types of films and here too he leaves his mark where he has to. I was hoping that he will have a change of heart but that is not the case here.

Krantiveer is a near-perfect masala potboiler of the 1990s. It the kind of film that has a great re-see value mainly for its leading man and his fiery performance. Add to that every jingoistic entertainment trope (well done) that you can imagine in a film and you have a film that has withstood the test of time and changing taste in movies. My only complaint is that Mehul Kumar should not have used the 2001: A Space Odyssey background score at the beginning of the film when his name is shown as part of the cast and credit. This immediately took me out of the experience even if it was only for a few moments. To copy something so iconic is just stupid.

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)

Here is the link to the full film

 

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