Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja


Director: Satish Kaushik
Music: Laxmikant/Pyarelal
Year: 1993
Rating: 7/10
Length: 190 minute

I watched this Bollywood film in memory of Sridevi who passed away at 54 a few months ago. In the 1980's and 90's she was one of Bollywood's biggest female stars - unlike any that had come before her. Until she came along most female heroines were either mother figures or perfect well-behaved demure women or on the other side of the coin vamps or women gone wrong. Only Zeenat Aman was able to straddle the center. Then along came the bubbly effervescence of Sridevi with her huge expressive eyes, long nose and full figure. Not classically beautiful by the standards of Bollywood actresses but just enormously entertaining, never afraid to make fun or herself, able to change her facial expressions faster than a speeding bullet and she captured a nation with all her charms. India I expect is in mourning. They don't get much bigger than Sridevi.

By nearly every cinematic measurement known to man this is a bad film but I thought it was an absolute hoot. I loved it. The last 30 minutes are just so wacky that I was grinning all the way. It was apparently the most expensive production ever at its release in 1993 and was a gigantic flop. IMDB rates it a 4.9 which makes me worry about the world I live in. I think by 1993 it just felt too corny and old fashioned - a much better fit if it had been in the 1970s when they threw everything into a film.

But if you watch it now and understand and sympathize with Bollywood conventions it is just so much fun. It has everything - comedy, action, revenge, family ties, coincidences like you only see in Bollywood films, the awful comedy of Johnny Lever, Bob Cristo, a vat of acid and our heroes hanging by a thread, three extravagant huge musical numbers (one being done to position themselves for an assassination) and the smartest pigeons you will ever see. Maybe the budget went to the pigeons.

An evil mastermind played by of all people Anupam Kher who most of us know from portraying loving fathers in many many movies kills a cop and a doctor and gets away by also killing his twin brother and taking his place. In fact, the fake twin and the bad guy live in the same house - he is the good twin in the front and then when he wants to be himself he goes through one sliding hidden door after another until he gets to his lair where his minions and hot girls in silver sleek dresses await him.

Now is where the coincidences kick in like a mule on hooch. The son of the cop and the daughter end up at the same orphanage and become good friends without realizing that they want revenge on the same man. At some point the girl is adopted and the boy runs away. They both grow up to be thieves - he a basic cat burglar and she by using her wiles and dance moves. They are both entertainers too it seems. Fate and a crazy script bring them (Anil Kapoor and Sridevi) together as fellow thieves and working them both is none other than Kher who they don't realize killed their parent. One more coincidence to go - it turns out Kapoor's older brother (Jackie Shroff) has become a cop and his assignment is to track down the thieves.

It is absurd. It is silly. Pigeons save the day three times. Anyone who came to this from a serious film background would start having fits. Nobody apparently likes this movie but I thought it was tremendously fun and that was enough.

RIP Sridevi. You were great in this film.