Main karigaar hoon, mere haath mein auzaar a jaye main khud aapni kismat talash loonga” said Ram Avtar (Rajesh Khanna) in the movie “Avtar”, a line which inspired Archimedes to once exclaim “Give me a lever and I shall move the world” which in turn inspired a great golfer to exclaim to a bar waitress “Move my lever and I shall give you the world”.
Those of you who have a mind for history will recall how Ram Avtar, using just a wrench brought by his devoted son Sewak (Sachin), made an amazing carburetor, jo “patrol ki problem ko kafi had tak solve kiya hai” [Video]. We all know that this led to the growth of Avtar industries, Avtar mills and a bunch of other corporations all of whom had the name Avtar in the them. What is not so well known is that under the patronage of Ram Avtar II (played once again by Rajesh Khanna) in the sequel to Avtar called Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar, these companies attained global and ultimately galactic reach.
In Avatar, James Cameron continues the Avtar saga by adding an “a” to “Avtar” just the way he added an s to Alien and made it into Aliens.
A mysterious planet called Pandora, the kind of place Vadodara would be if people always watched blue films, is the target of Avtar Industries (now transformed into an evil corporation over years of having the malignant Sewak on its board) which seeks to obtain a mysterious ore called Bindoo’s Eye, a million dollars an ounce.
The problem is that an indigenous tribal population, with blue skin called Navis, sits there right on top of the mining reserves (a city they call Navi-Mumbai) and they stubbornly refuse to move. In order to infiltrate the tribals and solve the problem before the dreaded Trinamool Congress moves in to the area (which as the universe knows means the end of all development), the Avtar corporation recruits an actor of very moderate talent, Ram Worthington (played by who else but Rajesh Khanna) to do a Matrix-plugged-in-thingy wherein Ram will assume the avatar (or body) of a tribesman and try to infiltrate the Navis as “one of them.” Why does Ram agree to do this? So that the corporation will restore his legs and his liver, both of which he lost how exactly Ram himself does not know since he keeps on singing “Yeh kya hua kaise hua, kyon hua, kab hua..”.
Once blue himself, he is taken under the wings of the waif-like Nuvi princess Naitiri, played with lithe agility by Asha Parekh” as Ram and Naitiri gambol, in glorious 3D, all over the landscape of Pandora. This naturally involves a lot of running around trees, some “main gir jayoongi main mar jayoongi agar tu ne thaam na liya” jumping off cliffs and the taming of wild animals as mounts, in a very curious way that resembles courtship more than anything else (The mount chooses the mountee in an exclusive violent ritual which culminates in a locking of body-parts) as man and animal forge a bond that is reminiscent of the type of connection shared between the hero (played by Rajesh Khanna) and the elephant in “Haathi Mere Saathi”.
However the evil corporation wants Bindoo’s Eye and soon the human army, led by a buffed-up Prem Chopra, is on the move.
Presently Ram is torn between the urge to get his legs back and to shake his head romantically on one side and close his eyes half-shut on the other.
Soon a set of events is set in motion wherein Bush-Iraq rhetoric and a watered-down “They may take our lives but they shall never take our freedom” Braveheart speech is thundered over Digital Dolby, the spirit of the forest (Arundhati Roy) makes her presence felt, the digital bird from Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon saves the day, Ripley from Aliens fights for the Aliens this time, more trees are uprooted than done to give the President a pleasant trip, Chota Chetan (Bhagat) pops out at a crucial point to say ” Hey this is a 3D movie and so it is my idea” and an epic maha-sangram begins between Navi and humankind, with the consequence as unpredictable as the fate of Titanic after it struck an iceberg, with the crowd standing up and clapping when with explosions exploding everywhere and the odds stacked against the tribals, Ram (Rajesh Khanna) roars —- “Pushpa you know I effin cannot stand tears”.
Avatar is not so much a movie as it is an amusement park ride.
Beautiful. Lush. Huge.
But at its heart it is as original, profound and as subtle as Avtar and Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar.
Of course not that anyone is complaining. I certainly am not. Paisa wasool.