Friday 19 December 2008

Tezaab Is Acid (1988)

Raaah, Anil Kapoor is ACID!

Tezaab Is Acid is pulp. Beautiful, graphic novel, gut-punching pulp. It is a film filled with unsavory concepts (acid burns! rape! abuse!) and sweaty, sleazy people. The emotional climax comes when our unwashed, bruised anti-hero screams to a courtroom full of people: "YES! YES! I AM ACID!" The acid which burns down society! The acid which eats away at his heart! But don't worry, gentle readers: this is Hindi commercial cinema, and so even after all the gangs and slums and exploitation, after all that hideous heartburn, our hero's still got a heart o' gold. And even though awful things happen, the film is at times ridiculous, at times sensitive enough that you're never really worried. Instead, you can sit back, relax and enjoy watching Anil Kapoor do what he does best: kick ass and meltdown (like acid indeed!) and exchange burning (acidic!) stares with the beautiful Madhuri Dixit.

The fun of Tezaab is seeing how Mahesh Deshmukh (Anil Kapoor and his towering pompadour) is transformed by societal injustice from a uniformed, naive goody-two-shoes into a really rough, low-level hoodlum called Munnabhai. From naval cadet academy, a series of bizarre tragedies propel squeaky-clean Mahesh out of his uniform and into the clink, where he emerges as a hardcore punk with a thirst for revenge. Yaaay! Young Anil Kapoor made his name playing angry tapori kids - Mashaal, the glorious Ram Lakhan - but he was also great at playing naive simpletons - Beta, Woh 7 Din, Eeshwar. We don't know which avatar we like better - and in Tezaab, you get both!

Apart from the fun "haah heeey!"-to-punk transformation, the heart and soul of Tezaab is the romance between the increasingly sleazy Munna and his poor, victimized Mohini (Madhuri Dixit). After all, the movie bills itself as "A VIOLENT LOVE STORY" in the title credits. Most of the highly contorted narrative - flashbacks within flashbacks! tangential fantasy sequences! - concerns Munna's various attempts to free Mohini from the grasp of her evil, exploitative father (an excellent Anupam Kher) and the also-evil, seemingly irrelevant goon Lotiya (Kiran Kumar). After being thrown in jail several times and emerging each time with a new scar and new shade of brown to his clothes, Munna employs the help of his old buddies (a strangely hot Chunky Pandey and a very young Johnny Lever) and the noble, sympathetic Police Inspector Singh (Suresh Oberoi) to finally get justice, save Mohini and cleanse the tezaab from his heart.

The early "upstanding members of society" days...

...the later, outlaw days.

One of the most romantic moments from the fantasy song, where Anil and Madhuri climb over the audience's shoulders to dance together. And Anil rips his shirt apart from the intensity of his devotion! And then they hug and the PPCC's heart implodes! Sigh, we love these two.

The romance is really what drives the film's emotional impact. We at the PPCC have no shame in admitting that we actually got teary-eyed every time Munna and Mohini were ripped apart and then reunited by the tides of CRAZY. Even if their relationship was absolutely insane and a not a little unhealthy - there's a lot of, "If you leave me, I'LL KILL MYSELF AND YOU TOO!" talk, and Munna throws himself from the roof at one point - it also had that vulnerable intensity and subsequent sweetness of... gosh, something Italian! Except with the added bonus of the highly charismatic Anil/Madhuri duo!

Everyone else was a lot of fun and surprisingly thoughtful - we're speaking, in particular, of Anupam Kher and Johnny Lever. We've been going through a rough patch with Anupam lately, and Johnny Lever's never really appealed, but this film showed us that - yes! - Anupam is a good actor and, well, Johnny Lever just didn't have much to do. Phew! Meanwhile, behold the surprise appeal of Chunky Pandey!

Earlest sighting of Johnny Lever, and check out how studly Chunky Pandey is!

For fans of Anil, Madhuri and Anil/Madhuri, this film definitely delivers. From a tender, cute courtship to flamboyant motorcycle stunts, it is wacky, trashy goodness.

The main reason we love Anil Kapoor: his trademark MELTDOWN scene of MAXIMUM DRAMA.


Rum said...

i Adore this movie, its such fun and i love how Madhuri sticks by him and sees his inner good boy, while he becomes a tapori crime lord. Lol i just mentioned this in my own jodi post a minute ago! Anupam was horrid here, but great acting though, and Chunky Pandey was always hot, but we just never like to say it too loud

ajnabi said...

Yay for Acid! I want Acid! The fully legal Anil kind of Acid!

NidaMarie said...

This looks like fun! I'll have to check it out. Also, made a run to my Indian grocer and gave them the list of masala flicks you recommended--thanks!:)

Filmi Girl said...

ACID!!! I'm so glad you liked this!! And the mystery of Chunkey's appeal is one for the ages... I think it's just this one film, too. Didn't you love that sleepy-time picturization?!

And no mention of the BATHING SUITS?! KYA?!

Anonymous said...

LOL!! Nice..Loved this movie when it came out and it has aged not all that horribly for me. But honestly it was Madhuri all the way for me. When she turns her head and makes the "Main aapki dukaan hoon" speech and of course when she makes her entry to Ek Do Teen. I was all smitten..still am actually ;)

Anonymous said...

The move name is just "Tezaab"..and not "Tezaab is Acid"... ;)

a ppcc representative said...

Rum - YAAAAAAY!!! I can totally agree. (And Chunkey is, ahem ahem.)

Ajnabi - Highly recommended - it is HARD CORE.

Nida - Awww, music to my ears. Don't forget to tell us what you think of them!

Filmi Girl - The nighttime song was faaab - I loved the interwoven peaceful night/night of woe vibes.

BATHING SUITS! Yes, I forgot to mention the whole hilarious courtship - but then, it's also the surprise nugget of greatness in this film. So unexpectedly teeny bopper and so unexpectedly hilarious!

Srinivas - Madhuri WAS wonderful in this, poor dukaan that she considers herself to be. Oh, respect yourself, Madhuri!

Srinivas2 - So I thought too, but IMDb and the tiny little print on the title card add the "acid" bit. Plus, it just sounds EVEN COOLER with the full, archaic title.

Hans Meier said...

glad to find at least someone reviewing this raw gem. Interesting that most locations seemed original rather than Filmistan, added to the down-to-earth, well: raw, feel (by Anil-Kapoor-standards). Also to my surprise Anil Kapoor had traces of an angry young man here, i used to know him only as a major sleeping pill. Anyway, *of course* it's Madhuri all the way - and beyond.