Subhash Ghai's KAANCHI
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This tale begins with scenes familiar from many past Bollywood films: a beautiful idyllic small rural town, a lovely young woman feeling her way towards womanhood, her dashing young suitor, and the loyal mom at home.
Mishti Chakraborty as Kaanchi
Then things change. The Bad Guys from the Big City arrive. They’re intent on turning the idyllic town into a forest of condominiums and high-rises. Things are complicated when the son of the chief bad guy falls in love with the girl … and murders her fiancé.
This is where Kaanchi becomes a revenge tale. Young Kaanchi (played by the gorgeous Mishti Chakraborty) moves to Mumbai, looks up an old friend, then infiltrates herself into the household of the chief bad guy, waiting for the best time to strike. Sequences follow of action, chases, tension — and of course much singing and dancing.
Based on my research it appears that Kaanchi is not thought of generally is one of this director’s better movies. The heavy-handedness of the good guys versus bad guys, intertwined with constant railing against government corruption, leaves very little to the imagination. There’s a theatricality and overdramatization of it all that makes it very difficult to take the film seriously as a drama.
And yet … I enjoyed the film immensely. Every now and then I find it enjoyable to see things done in bright colors and with well-drawn characters or personalities with motivations (good or bad) that are unmistakable.
Yes, some of the musical numbers are ridiculous; the dancers’ costumes in one of the nightclub numbers, for example, are downright weird. Yes, some of the bad guys are portrayed as subtly as Snidely Whiplash. And yes, the the beauties of rural small-town India are a bit idealized.
But the characters in the story arc are strong and much story variety and even surprises keep one’s interest. So, if you’re open to an entertaining and colorful (albeit old-fashioned) tale of Us against Them, check out Kaanchi.
Review copyright (c) 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald