Himesh is back. With a vengeance.
The first time I saw the poster of Karzzz, a remake of the 80s Ghai classic “Karz”, I felt I was looking not at a movie poster but at a visual prophecy informing us of the coming of a messiah. If “Aap Ka Surroor” was the Varaha (Boar or Bore) avatar, then the poster of Karzzz can be considered to be an announcement (or elaan) of the Narasimha (Lion-man) incarnation of the God of all Gods, Zeus ka baap, Himesh Reshammiya.
Keeping in with the theme of the Lion-man of “Karzzz” , Himesh loses his trademark cap and unleashes on the parched world a full mane of luxuriant black foliage spontaneously germinated from hybrid hair-seeds implanted into his scalp, a veritable black revolution.
Some contrarians however conjecture the hair is not grown from the roots but is merely transplanted from his chest, like one of the famous drop-in pitches used in New Zealand in the 2003 series. As evidence, they point to the shaved smoothness of his virginally hairless chest, the one which he likes to keep on permanent display in his public appearances and of course in “Karzzz”.
I do not want to go into this schism. Wars have been fought over far less serious things.
All I know is that I see is a heavenly body, his posterior towards me, legs spread. slinging his guitar like a phallic object, a phallic object that hangs from his back.
If there was any kind of skepticism in my Kaliyug heart, it vanished when I heard a voice from heaven, speaking in the same way that it did when it said: “The eighth son of Devaki shall kill the evil king Kangs” and “Rahul Gandhi shall end dynastic rule in the Congress party“, telling me through the movie prophet Taran Adarsh—”Damn the pseudo critics who even rubbished KARZ three decades ago. Go by your instinct and have a blast!”
Himesh is the world’s biggest rockstar. Women faint from the pheromones he unleashes from his nostrils. As he enters the room, people stop talking and just keep looking at him. Bikini-clad comely females come on to him and start flirting. While talking to him, friends say “You are a rockstar”. Even then, Himesh remains grounded to traditional values and remains exceedingly humble so much so that he says “I have name, fame, money, everything”.
I am sorry did I say Himesh? Well that was that in his last movie “Aap Ka Surroor” where he played the world’s biggest musical celebrity whose name was “Himesh”. In “Karzzz” he again plays the exact same character. The only difference with “Aap Ka Suroor” is that here he is called Monty. And the guitar is Monty’s Python, which he keeps strumming vigorously with rapturous expressions on his face.
However he has a back story. In his previous birth, he was Ravi Verma (played by Dino Morea in a “friendly” appearance), the tycoon scion of the Verma family, who after putting an end to the evil designs of Sir Judaa, gets married to Kamini (played by Urmila Matondkar in a “hostile” apperance).
After the nuptials, Ravi tells Kamini: “Baby are you ready for the flight of your life? Up we go”. No it isn’t what you think, he actually takes her up in a plane where the evil Kamini, in the highest tradition of Hindi moviedom, reveals her evil plan to kill Ravi before she commits the deed.
So Dino meets the fate of the Dino-saurs, killed by the lady he loves and doomed to be born again with the face of Himesh. His sister and his mother (played by Rohini Hattangadi) are forced into exile by the evil Kamini who along with Sir Judaa takes control of the Verma empire.
Meanwhile Monty is suffering from something like hot flashes while singing his songs. As a diagnosis, the doctor rules out menopause and rightly identifies these as phantom memories of a past life. In search for his eternal identity and the innocent virginal girl who has captured the superstar’s heart (and with whom he shares the licking of an ice-cream and who he serenades from a helicopter), he comes to Kenya and comes face to face with Princess Kamini, who has not aged even a bit in all the years that it took Monty to be reborn and become a (young) man. But when one can believe in rebirth, why cannot we believe in eternal youth especially when we can see “Simi Garewal the White” as a living testimony of it in front of our eyes (incidentally the person who played Kamini in the original)?
A dangerous game starts with Monty, now aware of the secret of his demise, endeavoring to seduce Kamini (which is not a difficult thing for Himesh) and convince her that he is her long-dead husband by recounting small things about her no one else could have known. Or should have known. Like how when she kisses, she closes her eyes (something that most people do not do). Like how she never brushes her teeth before she has her morning tea. How if she does not get her lunch by noon, “tumhe acidity ho jaati hain”.
Mercifully, Kamini is convinced that Monty is Ravi reborn before Monty blurts out even more embarassing things about her like perhaps how he used to come to know she has not digested her food properly. Kamini is also told that Monty just does not know how he dies. And she of course believes it. After all, when one remembers every small thing of one’s past life, it is natural that one should forget the speech one’s murderer gave before she killed him.
So will Monty get vengeance? Will there be a song now or in the next five seconds? Will Himesh do a full Monty? Why does Raj Babbar wear “Singh is Kinggg” Akshay Kumar’s purple turban? Why does Urmila mutter in a guttural tone “Come on Number 2?” Does she need more fiber in her diet? Did she actually ask Himesh in her accented regal Hindi: “To Monty kaisa laga kele humare”? Or did she mean “qille” (castle)? How many brain-dead people does it take to make this muck? Why am I watching this? And why am I enjoying myself thoroughly?
The director, Satish Kaushik is in supreme touch in Karzzz as he takes the story of Karz and modernizes it for a new generation of people, who in their past birth may have seen the original. Everything is amped up, the dial is turned to eleven, the explosions are bigger and the backup dancers are all foreign. As an example of the grander scale, Sir Judaa who in the original used to communicate by playing glasses and tables now has a bionic arm which is essentially a surgically-grafted tuning fork. And the immortal scene of Simi Garewal hitting a Raj Kiran with the jeep again and again (because Raj Kiran with his bulk cannot be killed with one blow from a heavy vehicle) is replaced by a high-tech airplane sequence. However Kaushik keeps the heart of the original Karz intact in that he keeps the legendary scene of Monty with a contraption on his head and with electrodes coming out of everywhere, connected to a device that says mediscope, playing the guitar.
Acting wise, this is all Himesh’s show. Some may say that the character of the world’s greatest rockstar is not much of a challenge to Himesh as he can just be himself. Such people do not understand the challenges in jumping seven feet in the air and throwing kicks in slow motion, spitting dialogs, pouting coyly and most importantly hyper-acting. Special note must be made of Rohini Hattangadi who seems to have adopted the Lambu Atta mega-hamming method of acting—when she says “Is tarah naheen mere lal” on the death of her son, one could see more than a few shades of “Kundan maarne ka naheen” from Gunda.
No analysis of a Himesh avatar can be complete with a discussion of its music. Forget Kishore. Forget LP. Himesh has made Karzzz his very own. In this context, I shall say “Tandoori Nights” is one of the most significant songs I have heard in a while, the best since “Tu Mera Chicken Fry”. Is this a song about the kind of love that burns your soul, the kind that makes you say “If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right”? Or is this song actually about the heartburn that accompanies eating too much tandoori chicken at night—”rabba rabba meri jaan jaale, jaale jaale” an interpretation of the lyrics supported by the accompanying sequence that shows performers blowing fire from their mouths.
In passing, there was some controversy when a Punjabi singer accused Himesh of lifting his song for Karzzz without royalty. But I think there is conclusive proof that the tune of the song is something that Himesh heard playing in his brain, possibly as a residual memory of a past life, somewhat like the instrumental refrain from “Ek Haseena Thi” and that he used it with best intentions under the impression that it was an original tune that was coming from himself.
Summing up, this movie is a towering triumph. There is a karz (curse) on you to see it. This birth or the next.