Munish Kohli, Manisha Koirala, Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty,
Aftab Shivdasani, Arshad Warsi, Aditya Panscholi, Sharad
Kapoor, Rajat Bedi, Sonu Nigam, Siddharth, Sunny Deol
Music: Anand Raaj Anand, Anand-Milind and Sandeep
Next time you scoff at India's projection as a land
of snake charmers, poverty and superstition, think twice
before heaping all the blame on the West. Our own Bollywood
is an much to blame - Jaani Dushman - Ek Anokhi Kahani,
released this past week, proves as much. For years now,
Bollywood has been churning out fare, which refuses
to bury the past, look ahead, promotes myths, and encourages
superstition - all in the name of entertainment.
Many, many years ago we had the snake-out-to-exact-
revenge tale in Filmistan's Nagin- 1954- whose music
is still, well, melody to seasoned listeners. Whatever
message the film might have conveyed, Lata Mangeshkar's
Man dole, mera tan dole number is remembered to this
Incidentally, there is an old housewives' tale attached
to the film's success. It is believed that a nag-nagin
actually live in Filmistan studios in Mumbai. The studio
flourished as long as they were there, its fortunes
nose-dived after they passed away!
A little less than 30 years ago, Rajkumar Kohil came
up with Nagin - third film of that name; the first one
being in 1934. Like I.S. Johar's Nagin, it had fine
music - Tere sang pyar main nahin todna was its passoport
to acquaintance with posterity. The film was a super-hit.
Emboldened with this tale of icchadhari nag-nagin, he
went ahead and came up with a spooky Jaani Dushman,
yet another multi starrer which too did fair business
at the box office. Again, Lakshmikant-Pyarelal's music
was a winner with Mohamed Rafi's Tere haathon main pehna
ke chudiyan song drooling off many a young lip.
Meanwhile, Bollywood continued its dalliance with cobra,
viper, python and whatever they called a snake by. Harmesh
Malhotra came up with Nagina in the early '80s which
put Sridevi at the top of the heap among Bollywood heroines
and effectively sealed Jayaprada's numero uno aspirations
- she had rejected the film due to fear of snakes! The
film was a major hit with Malhotra coming up with a
sequel a couple of years later in Nigahen. Not to be
outdone, ageing queen Rekha came up with her own Shashnag
while T-Series offered added another jaded chapter to
the burgeoning book on nag-nagin revenge.
And just when you and I thought that in this age of
science and reason, rationality and logic, we were through
with snakes and their comebacks as human beings in the
next birth comes Jaani Dushman - Ek Anokhi Kahani from,
you guessed it, Rajkumar Kohil. The man has carved out
quite a reputation for his ability to put together many,
many stars in a single film. He did it in Nagin, and
then repeated the dose with Jaani Dushman.
A little later, he put together the who's who of Bollywood
in Muqabla, following it up with films like Raj-Tilak
and Jeene Nahin Doonga. That all these films were more
talked about when in the process of production than
after their release shows the calibre of the man. That
most of these films did reasonably well in B and C grade
centers also shows that if he were to focus solely on
his potential viewers, he would be better of!
who is to prevent human heart form hope? Hence, he comes
up with the tried, tested - and often failed - formula
of a body in love with a girl, unable to consummate
their affair due to the death of one of the partners,
the departed turning the partner. Along the way, he-she
takes time out to teach those responsible for the separation
a lesson. It helps that the snake can turn into a human
being and back at will! It is the same here where the
director's son is being launched, probably for the fourth
time. This time Armaan Kohil! Who began with a damp
squib of a Vidroh has changed his name to Munish Kohil.
Whether the change in name brings a change in fortune
is open to debate but he gets plenty of help from his
ever-helpful father who has made bold to give him a
pivotal role in a film that has Sunny Deol, Sunil Shetty,
Akshay Kumar, Aftab Shivadasani and introducing Sonu
Nigam besides many others in its roll-call.
The Kohil boy is in love with Manisha Koirala adding
another forgettable role to her list of forgettables
expanding at the same rate as her girth - but she is
cursed to be dead by a sadhu, whose centuries' old meditation
is disturbed by the love-birds. The lady dies, is re-born
the man comes back too. But in the form of a snake,
convinces her that she is his and goes about killing
all those responsible for her murder in the second birth!
Interested? Well, some people in smaller centers might
This film comes with dialogues, which probably won't
be remembered by K.K. Singh, who has penned them. Ditto
for the lyrics of Sameer, Dev Kohil and Nitin Raikwar;
and music of Anand Raaj Anand, Anand-Milind and Sandeep
Chowta. The story idea is credited to Aatish, who should
really be in credit for coming up with this story, which
should have been long dead, buried, cremated, gone.
No fangs no bite this one it is a tepid affair and about
the only redeeming feature are its special effects.
As for Armaan, oops, Munish, well, what's in a name?
A did by any other name will remain just the same.