Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993)
Satish Kaushik - Director / Laxmikant Pyarelal - Music
Javed Akhtar - Lyrics / Running time: 3 hours 10 minutes
The producers of Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja ("roop key ronnie, cho-rone kah rah-jah" trans. Queen of Beauty, King of Thieves) had some money. They also had some bad ideas. It's hard to describe the film without liberal use of the words, "strange," "stupefying," and "did they really just do that?"
In essence, it's a tale of two friends that spent some time together growing up before being separated by circumstance. For independent reasons, they both enter the world of crime, each with their own specialties. When they are reunited as adults, after some hemming and hawing, they join forces to settle some old scores, once and for all.
That doesn't sound too bad if we leave it right there. However, we need to spice things up a little bit. The songs in this one are simply weird. Many of them are done in rather poor taste (wait until you see Sridevi's impression of a Chinese woman) and all of them are just very... out there. We'll cover those as they come up. Then there is our villain... good grief. I can't get too much into this here, but if you peek down the way a little bit at the cast listing, you'll get some idea of what lies ahead.
Of note, I am told that this was the most expensive Bollywood movie to date at the time of production, and it bombed spectacularly. You're about to see why.
There are many repeat performers here, so let's have a look.
First up, we've got Anil Kapoor. A prolific actor, he's made appearances here on Army of Monkeys in Bewafaa as the widower who reluctantly marries Kareena Kapoor (reluctantly!?), and in Taal as the greedy musical producer who has a heart of gold.
Next is the ever-popular Jackie Shroff! He's been on Army of Monkeys many times already, and he is always welcome here. He's thrilled us all in 100 Days, 1942: A Love Story (short), Agni Sakshi, Devdas (short), Dushmani, Jung, Khal Nayak, Rangeela, and Tridev. His role this time out is a little shorter than his previous exploits, but he's nonetheless his usual dashing, handsome self.
Also with us this time is Anupam Kher. He's been seen at AoM in 1942: A Love Story, (short) Khal Nayak, Darr, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (short), Dushmani, and Yeh Hai Jalwa. Once again, he is playing a bad guy (and briefly a good guy... I said this gets weird, didn't I?) and chews the scenery as if it were made of gingerbread. I think you'll enjoy him.
Last but not least is Johnny Lever. True to form, he's our comic relief for the movie, such as it is. He's been seen here in Anjaam (ugh), Baazigar, Jaani Dushman, Karan Arjun, Andaaz, and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (short). His role in this film is also a bit short compared to some of his other appearances, but I don't think anyone's complaining about that.
While not a repeat performer yet, I should also mention the debut appearance of one Ms. Sridevi. She's cute as a button, and has perhaps some of the biggest eyes ever set into a human face. She generally includes a bit of a comedic performance of her own in her roles, so I thought I'd point that out here. She's been in many, many movies and I will admit that it's strange it took me this long to get to one of her films. Sorry about that.
For this outing, we have on the roster:
|Ramesh Verma/Romeo (Anil Kapoor) - A master thief and a friend of birds. One can tell when he's on a caper when he's wearing his stylish Lenscrafter frames, or some other ridiculous getup.|
|Seema Soni/Shanta (Sridevi) - Another master thief, but lacking in birds. She's got plenty of getups for her own heists, but for some reason they're more appealing that Ramesh's wardrobe. It's puzzling. Oh and her dad was killed by...|
|Jagmohan Lal Jugran/Manmohan Lal (Anupam Kher) - Identical twins. Predictably, one is "good" while the other is "evil." If you consider (as my friend Pat describes him) "a villainous turtle worshipping schizophrenic conductor Satanist" to be evil.|
|Girdharilal (Paresh Rawal) - He's Ramesh's "boss" of sorts. He informs Ramesh of good heists in exchange for a cut of the loot. Kind of an underworld boss, I suppose. Their relationship is a little strange.|
|Ravi Verma (Jackie Shroff) - A cop, and Ramesh's brother. You can probably guess that this might lead to some family strife a little way down the road.|
|Sub Insp. Rang Birangi Lal Chauhan (Johnny Lever) - A fellow detective of Ravi's, RBLC is convinced that he's any number of television detectives. He doesn't actually do a whole lot of police work, but he does take up space effectively.|
|D'souza (Akash Khurana) - A life-long friend of Seema's, who holds the key to identifying the man that killed her father.|
When we get to the "Thenga! Thenga! Thenga!" song, you'll probably want to lie down for a few minutes. We'll be here when you get back.