Sunday, June 7, 2009

Raaj Mahal (1982) – swashbuckling masala fun!

Raaj Mahal I chose this one with my usual meticulous care and eye for a good movie. In other words, I took one look at Vinod Khanna+Neetu Singh on the DVD cover, gave a fan-girl squee and rushed to buy it, not bothering about the synopsis or other cast members. In the event, my hope that Vinod+Neetu would make up for every deficiency in the film wasnt quite fulfilled. There werent that many deficiencies to overcome! Its a fast paced swashbuckler, full of beautiful people, lovely songs, thrilling twists, and of course, tons of swordfights.

Right from scene one, I knew I was going to love it. A wounded man (Kader Khan) riding hell-for-leather and carrying a baby on his back, succumbs to his wound, but not before he’s done his duty. He takes time off from his death throes to hand over his master’s son to a gypsy chieftain - Basha Khan (Om Shivpuri). The master was Maharaja Uday Singh of Ajaygarh, who’s been foully murdered by Durjan Singh (Amjad Khan). The child is Vikram Singh, the heir apparent. The loyal servant and the Maharani (Urmila Bhatt) escaped with two princes. After a chase and a savage sword fight, the number of princes was drastically reduced to one - the Maharani plus one son plunged into a river.
The appropriately named Durjan Singh (Durjan = bad man) and his assistant Zaalim Singh (Zaalim = cruel) scour the kingdom for the missing princes. One is believed drowned, while the other is saved by Basha Khan at the cost of his own son.
Durjan Singh goes on to have a long and cruel reign while Vikram is brought up in the gypsy clan and kept in ignorance of his heritage. He is given a lot of sword training, though, and grows up to be Vinod Khanna! Err… I meant Vinod Khanna plays the dispossessed crown prince and shows off in the sword fights to great advantage! (I cant help but wonder why swashbuckling heroes do not get shooting, or even archery training.)
Vikram’s swashbuckling training stands him in good stead when he tangles with the military escort of visiting princess Ratna (Neetu Singh) in an effort to save a helpless old man and woman. The princess takes one look at Vikram’s sword arm, and tells her soldiers to desist. In a traditional masala twist, the helpless old woman is none other than the former Maharani - his own mother! So she is alive?!! What about her other son?
As the cruelties of Durjan Singh against his people mount, Vikram Singh asks Basha Khan why he isnt allowed to fight the king. Basha Khan finally reveals the secret of Vikram’s parentage. An enraged Vikram decides to seek vengeance for his lost family. He sneaks into the palace to murder Durjan Singh. Alas, Durjan Singh is well supplied with security precautions and Vikram has to retreat in some disorder. While escaping from the palace guards, he finds temporary shelter in Ratna’s quarters.
Ratna not only saves him from the palace guards, she also tells him her sad story. Durjan Singh wants to annex her father’s kingdom by forcing a marriage between her and his son Veer Singh (Jagdeep). Vikram pledges to help her out and promises her a princely hand in marriage. Ratna would, of course, be quite content with Vikram Singh!
A chastened Vikram returns home where Basha Khan’s wiser counsel prevails. He is persuaded to win over both the king and his oppressed people, alike, before trying to claim the throne. As Vikram the brave knight, he wins over everybody with his fighting prowess in a chariot-fight-tournament. He also wins Durjan Singh’s trust by rescuing Ratna from Daaku Sangram Singh (Danny), who turns up to fight at the same tournament.
The grateful Durjan Singh hires Vikram to give Veer Singh fighting tutorials. Since Veer Singh is more interested in the company of his wife-to-be – Ratna - than in tutorials with Vikram, the two lovers get to spend time with each other while the gullible Veer thinks his romance is going forward!
Through all this, Vikram hasnt forgotten his vengeance. Basha Khan and he decide to organise an armed resistance and to finance it through Durjan’s treasury! They kidnap Ratna in the name of Daaku Sangram Singh. Durjan Singh selects Vikram to deliver the ransom. When Sangram hears of this, he decides to investigate. Sangram and Vikram end up collaborating on an elaborate scheme to defraud Durjan Singh of some more of his ill-gotten wealth.
But is a Daaku to be trusted with matters of national importance? Will Durjan find out that the heir he thought dead would come back for his pound of flesh? Can Vinod+Neetu look any prettier? Will Vinod’s tight pants stop blood circulation in his limbs? Go visit Ajaygarh and find out. While there, dont forget to check out Vinod-Neetu romancing on the water front: Mere pyaar ki awaaz pe.

57 comments:

  1. Must...see...must......own.......must...........

    (heh my verification word is FUNCO) :)

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  2. Not to self: If trying to take over kingdom from righteous older brother, remember to kill his offspring with my own hands, or else have their bodies burned in my presence. Also, familiarise myself with offsprings appearance, so I won't be taken in by the provision of substitutes.

    Well, at least they didn't employ Jeevan. :-)

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  3. OMG, I couldn't stop laughing at your screep cap comments! Tight pants and swords are my favorite combination!

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  4. I'd rather marry Danny of the tiny animal skin pincho and live happily ever after- shg- late by several decades, dang it!
    Lovely review Ira- such fun!

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  5. this movie looks too much like Dharam Veer, have you seen it bollyviewer, you'll love it

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  6. Yes, Memsaab, Vinod K in fancy dress is definitely not-to-be-missed! Sadly Neetu doesnt get very funky costumes to wear.

    gebruss, I get the feeling that royal babies are a lot easier to substitute than commoner babies, even their royal brands (yes, there was one in this case) and/or birthmarks are easily reproduced! I think the advent of DNA-fingerprinting technology has made such substitutions difficult in recent times and thats why we dont see baby-switches in modern films.

    Shell, thanks! Tight pants are great when combined with a good physique! Some of today's stars would be able to carry it off so well - its too bad they dont make swashbucklers any more...

    Shweta, I'm glad somebody had time for Danny. He was pretty good too, but I was too dazzled by Vinod K to pay much attention to anyone else!

    bollywooddeewana, it is a lot like several other Hindi swashbucklers I've seen (Amar Shakti, for one). I havent seen Dharam Veer, though its on my to-get-and-watch list!

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  7. I like to stay away from swashbucklers after a bad experience with AAN, but this looks fab, i cant believe i didnt pick this up, I bought cooolie instead! Were the fashions as confused as Dharam Veer, or Mard? coz fashion era confusion is my paisa!!

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  8. Between this and Aan and Amar Shakti and Dharam Veer my head will explode, but it will be totally worth it, because drool drool Vinod drool drool faint.

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  9. Oh! And Neetu too! Yay!

    Sorry. Vinod does that to me.

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  10. Ooh, gotta see this! Somehow, it's hard to beat a good old fashioned swashbuckler, with pretty princess, missing heir (and that too Vinod Khanna!), and comic side kick - Jagdeep, too! Am putting this on my swiftly-lengthening wishlist of must-sees.

    P.S. Neetu Singh looks so absolutely beautiful in that screen cap with her in the carriage. Gorzeous, as a local beauty parlour here is named.

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  11. Great word, dustedoff! Neetu should have her own word to describe her awesomeness. :)

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  12. Vinod and Neetu Singh look really good together. This is definitely going on my list of films to watch.

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  13. Bollyviewer, talking about Vinod Khanna, I wonder if you'd be able to enlighten me regarding a film of his. In the good old days of Chitrahaar on DD, they'd sometimes play a song in which he's disguised as a sadhu-like character, giving (supposedly) music lessons to a girl. I don't recall the actress (not one of the stars, at any rate), and only one line from the song: "Yeh chakshu tere chanchal-chanchal, yeh kuntal bhi shyaamal-shyaamal". I've been driving myself nuts trying to remember which film that was. Any idea?

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  14. Rum, you didnt enjoy Aan?! I havent seen the whole film, but from what little I did catch on TV years ago, it looked like fun. This one is a straight forward swashbuckler, no Dharam Veer insanity here, and no funky costumes either. I remember thinking that it must be a very low budget film, because Neetu had only about half a dozen costumes in the entire movie!

    Beth, Vinod K has exactly that effect on me! And for a change, Neetu had some good scenes. So, she wasnt as negligible as she has been in the last few of her movies that I've seen.

    dustedoff, "Gorzeus" sounds like Godzilla's son! lol Did the parlor get any business at all?

    The song you're looking for is : Priye praneshwari, from Hum Tum Aur Woh. Its one of the few shuddh Hindi filmi songs I have ever heard, and is a total hoot!

    Cindy, they are gorgeous singly and even better together! Hope you enjoy it.

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  15. You are hilarious--that last screencap is gold, for real!

    This looks like an oldie I can get behind. :-)

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  16. Thanks for the great post and for using the word swashbuckling.

    All the best,
    Sita-ji

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  17. Thank you so much, bollyviewer! You're a gem - I've been going nuts trying to remember which song that was, and couldn't for the life of me recall the first line, or which film it was. But yes, one of the very few shuddh Hindi songs I've come across!

    Re: Gorzeous... no idea if they get any business. I've not had the courage to venture in, but it always looks dark and gloomy and deserted, so I doubt if they're succeeding in making anyone gorzeous. ;-)

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  18. ajnabi, thanks! Nothings beats a 70s masala swashbuckler. You definitely should try this!

    Sita-ji, its such a lovely word and describes these movies (and Vinod Khanna in sword-fights) so well!

    dustedoff, songs have a way of sticking, dont they? And that one was truly memorable - the lyrics and VK's costumes (he looks like Kishore Kumar in Padosan) add up to one of the funniest songs ever!

    Dark and gloomy sound very appropriate for a parlor with a name like that. Perhaps it caters to a Goth clientele?

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  19. Ah, very likely! ;-) I can't think of anybody else who'd want to go there. But then, right in the heart of one of Delhi's poshest areas, I don't know how much business Gorzeous manages even if their clientele's Goth-inclined.

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  20. hey bollywooddeewana i ave seen dharam veer and raaj mahal and its nofin compared to raaj mahal i loved raaj mahal watched it all da time as a kid but what i like about these old movies r that the guards dress as poofs and could i actually find raaj mahal on dvd let me no

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  21. Anonymous, I havent seen Dharam Veer but I agree that Dharam in mini skirts is hardly a match for Vinod in tight pants! ;-) And Raaj Mahal is on DVD - you can buy it here.

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  22. Ok thanx bollyviewer but the thing is that i live in australia and i have never seen it on dvd here and which contry u from

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  23. Anonymous, I had to order it from India, from Rhythm House. They have a good DVD selection and ship worldwide for reasonable rates.

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  24. This movie is so rare to ever find on dvd u can get it from the net but i wanna find it in a store i have it on video but am thinking of getting one of those things that lets u put video things to a disc

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  25. hey bollyviewer

    u know that not many people know about raaj mahal i dont know why they dont it was realeased after sholay for gods sake

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  26. Anonymous, I cant understand why it isnt better known, either! ;-) Though I am not sure what Sholay has to do with its fame or lack of it.

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  27. i want to get it from rythem house but da thing is how do they deliver it to u and does it ave subtitles and btw i love da ending when vinod and danny and their men take on durjan singhs soldiers how bout u

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  28. how good is da line when amjad say
    bhool sangram sing daku tera saat kya kia gy
    and he replys by being a smartass and 1 thing i dont understand in da movie is after he trys to murder durjan at night his dad da one he calls baba who r those men in black standing where he wakes up were they udaysinghs soldiers or who da hell were they and love da bit when jaagdeep is talking to da guard and trying 2 be tuff when he is a chicken himself and da guard seems like a wuss himself so funny

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  29. Anonymous, Rhythm House delivers the DVDs by post! Their website should mention whether the DVDs have subtitles or not. You seem to have Raaj Mahal pretty thoroughly memorised - so maybe you dont need to buy it anymore?

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  30. who r those men in black standing where he wakes up were they udaysinghs soldiers

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  31. i remember it cos i have it on vcd but i want 2 get it on dvd

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  32. Anonymous, the men in black were soldiers of the rebel army that Basha Khan had gathered.

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  33. hey bollyviewer

    have u seen the follwing movies and have u written up bout them

    Karan Arjun
    Kites-with my fav actor hrithik roshan
    Dhol
    QSQT-amir khan,jewhi chala

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  34. Anonymous, I've certainly seen QSQT but havent posted about it. Kites wont release till this summer. And I've seen enough clips of Karan Arjun to know that its a film I wont ever watch!

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  35. just so you know i have got raaj mahal on dvd now so now i dont need to look 4 it now and btw watch these movies
    Balidaan-jitendra and shakti kapoor
    saw this movie when i watch raaj mahal that was 11 years ago and karan arjun rocks u have 2 watch it and dhol is a 2008 movie which has rajpal yadev in it

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  36. Anonymous, I am so glad you found Raaj Mahal. Happy viewing! :-)

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  37. why dont u want 2 c karan arjun i love it and have u seen

    kaho naa pyare hai
    fool and final
    dulha mil gaya
    koyla

    let me know

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  38. Well, I am not fond of any of the leads in Karan Arjun, and I know the plot outline - it doesnt interest me. Koyla is another one that I wont try, inspite of loving Madhuri to bits. I am just not into movies that are so-bad-that-they-are-good! And of course, I've seen Kaho Na Pyaar Hai - LOVE it!!!

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  39. hey its me Anonymous i will use HugeHrithikfan1 as my username from now on
    i saw kites when it released n it became a flop i still loved it cos i worship hrithik as n actor n idol 2 look up 2 who inspired me 2 get in2 acting
    \
    btw if u have twitter follow me under HugeHrithikfan1 username

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  40. So you're a "huge Hrithik fan"? Me too! I do draw the line at worshipping him though, and I must admit that I did not much care for Kites. All the best in your acting career...

    PS: I haven't gotten into twitter yet - I have my hands full with this blog and probably won't venture into anything else for a while.

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  41. thanks but da funny thing is dat im 16 now n only decided now at this age 2 get in2 acting dont no y just sort of clicked when i started watching hrithik/srk/shahid movies while waiting 4 kites
    continuously n thinking if they can do it y not me btw im a boy cos people get comfused wif da username n guzaarish trailer realeases on 2nd september thought id let u no

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  42. HugeHrithikfan1, I am glad to see that Hrithik does have his male fans, too! :D I must admit to being rather disappointed in his recent films. I didn't much care for Jodha Akbar and could not complete Kites, so I am not going to raise my expectations for Guzarish!

    By the way, have you seen my write up of Mujhse Dosti Karoge? It's one my favorite Hrithik films - he looks beautiful in it and Rani-Kareena are awesome!

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  43. Hi,
    I m glad to c some one other than myself didnt care for JODHA AKBAR;
    Though the sets were good there was nothing exceptional about the movie;the fight sequences (esp the battle scenes )
    Only good thing bout the movie is Hrithik and i esp liked the scene where Ash checks him out :D
    My main problem comes with the fact that i think the director couldnt quite decide whether to concentrate on romance b/w Hrithik and Ash or to make it into more battle oriented film.

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  44. LMAO loved your mujse dosti karoge review hilarious

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  45. Aah Jodh Akbar - the grave of all my anticipations! ;D I guess there was some humor to be found in Emperor Akbar being reduced to playing second-fiddle in a Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi-drama!

    HugeHrithikfan1, thanks! :D

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  46. hey here is my twitter profile
    http://twitter.com/HugeHrithikfan1
    i used 2 promote raaj mahal but since no 1 really knows bout that movie i stopped.Have u seen Baalidaan

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  47. I've never even heard of Balidaan, though imdb lists 5 movies of that name! Which one are you referring to?

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  48. da 1 im refering 2 stars jitendra and shri devi n kadar khan and shakti kapoor

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  49. Aah... Sridevi, Jeetendra, Shakti Kapoor... Then I can safely say that I haven't watched it. They're not my favorite actors, and I would never voluntarily watch anything with all of them in it together!

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  50. any one tell me raj mahal film lnk plzzz

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  51. You're going to have to buy the DVD - unless it shows up on Rajshri.com or Bigflix.com

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  52. so have u watched Guzaarish? What did u think of it? and here is hrithiks twiteer www.twitter.com/iHrithik

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  53. very best movie pliz watch me

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  54. HugeHrithikfan1 I haven't watched Guzarish so far. I am not keen on Sanjay Lela Bhansali's films, and Hrithik's latest films have been rather disappointing. I wish he'd hurry up and do something worth watching!

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  55. haha so what did u think of ZNMD? I loved it haha :) hrithik was great in it :) it was nice to see another hit from him :) btw im super excited for Agneepath Remake :D should be awesum :D haha i was watching raaj mahal again yesterday and also downloded the song kya se kya ho jaaye yay finally found it haha its my fav in da movie haha i remembered that even i knew i was gong to love raaj mahal when i saw it when i was 4 cos of the start n an injured amjad haha :)

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  56. i mean injured kadar

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  57. HugeHrithikfan1, ZNMD is not really my kind of film. I am not too keen on entitled yuppy man-children swanning it around hip locations trying to figure out which luxuries make their lives more/less miserable. That said, it wasn't too bad - a bit more interesting than Dil Chaahta Hai! Hrithik looked beautiful as ever. :D

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