Himmatwala: An unoriginal piece of disappointment

Published: April 3, 2013

At least five action scenes from this movie reminded me of Amitabh’s movies. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Before reviewing the new Himmatwala, allow me to introduce you to the original 1983 depiction of Himmatwala.

K Raghavendra Rao’s Himmatwala (1983) was an experimental film, in which he signed Jitendra, a sinking mega star of the early 1980s whose movies were slumping at the box office back in those days.

Similarly, Sridevi was signed because of the limited budget, as she was planning to leave the industry as her career, along with her movies, seemed to have plummeted. Kader Khan, who used to play negative roles, was not getting any movies either, but was signed on for this one.

The concept of remaking South Indian movies was very new at the time. So, all in all, it was their hard work and commendable script, along with astounding performances that made Himmatwala a success or just pure luck. I believe it was the former.

This movie was the reason the team of Jitendra, Sridevi, Kader Khan, Amjad Khan, Shakti Kapoor and Asrani, who were chosen, after the success of Himmatwala, to launch many other block-busters.

The sensation that this movie became was also reason enough to copy it – even after three decades.

Sajid Khan’s Himmatwala is a literal copy of the original Himmatwala.

He has been quoted stating that his depiction of the movie only has very few elements of the original one; however, if you have watched the original movie, you’ll notice that the dialogues, character names, scenes and the even background music is the same. There are minor amendments; unfortunately, these barely add any weight to the movie.

(Ajay Devgn in one of the fight scenes from Himmatwala)

If Sajid Khan says that this particular movie is a tribute to 1980’s cinema, then he should rephrase it as a tribute to the 80’s ‘angry young man’, Amitabh Bachchan’s movies.

The reason I say this is because at least five action scenes from this movie reminded me of Amitabh’s movies.

A – The title track reminded me of Shan’s “Pyar Karnewalay Pyar Kartay Hain”, filmed on Parveen Babi.

B – Ajay Devgn’s cage fight is reminiscent of Amitabh’s cage fight in Naseeb.

C – The scene where Ajay Devgn holds the dagger from the sharp end while saving his sister from ‘Dhanna’, reminds me of the scene from “Kaala Patthar” where Amitabh did the same with a character named “Dhanna” (played by Ashok Saxena).

D – The much talked about tiger fight again makes me recall Amitabh’s tiger fight from “Khoon Pasina”.

E – The fight sequence just before the song “Bum Pe Laat” where Ajay converses in five different languages with the goons takes me back to a similar scene from Amitabh’s “Laawaris”.


The plot, as was in the previous version, tells us the story of a malicious Sarpanch Sher Singh (Mahesh Manjrekar) who defames Ravi’s (Ajay Devgn) father to an extent where he commits suicide and his family suffers a lot of pain. Years after, Ravi returns to take revenge from Sarpanch.

I am a fan of movies from the 70’s and 80’s and so, I naturally chose to watch the new Himmatwala. Unfortunately, I expected a lot more and this experience was painful to say the least.

(Sri Devi and Jitendra in Himmatwala 1983)

First of all, Ajay would not have been my first pick for the role- not even my fifth, if you know what I mean. He failed to grasp the wittiness in which Jitendra portrayed in his style. His Atta Maajhi Sattakli style seems to have gelled with and stuck to him.

Mahesh Manjhrekar is a very talented actor but he looks cheap and acts loud in this fare. If compared to the original work of Amjad Khan’s comical expressions and terrifying persona, his work was well below standard.

Adhyayan Suman does not even come close to Shakti Kapoor all through the film. Tamanna Bhatia (a renowned and successful Tamil actress) has screen presence, but when it comes to performing her focus on the role seemed lacking.

The only character that stands out (to some extent) in the movie is Paresh Rawal (enacting the role of Kader Khan). He manages to copy the appearance and tone of Kader Khan very well and in his dialogues you see the earnest attempts made in every scene.

Asrani is the only actor who appeared in both Himmatwalas but in the newer version, his talent was wasted. Ritesh Deshmukh appears in a cameo and he is as typical in his performance as usual. Zarina Wahab showed efficiency.

(Sri Devi in Himmatwala 1983)

(Tammanaah in Himmatwala 2013)

It is deeply unfortunate that a film with so many great actors and even super stars failed to create the magic that was created in 1983.

As a Bollywood buff, I recommend you skip it. I rate it a sad 3.5 out of 10.

If you really want to get a heavy dose of some good cinema, you must watch the original Himmatwala. You’re not missing out on anything in this sorry excuse for a tribute.


Read more by Shafiq here, or follow him on Twitter @shafiqulhasan81

Shafiq Ul Hasan

Shafiq Ul Hasan

The author is an avid movie lover and reviews films and dramas regularly. He is a professional digital inbound marketer. He has worked with a silicon valley-based social network as a content analyst. He blogs at www.shafiqsiddiqui.com and tweets as @shafiqulhasan81 (twitter.com/shafiqulhasan81)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Palwashaa

    Though im not a fan of watching Indian movies but going through the papers, reviews lately, the thing that strike me of this movie cover shot (..i havnt seen yet neither i intend to..) was that Tammanaah no doubt looked strikingly beautifulRecommend

  • Critical

    As one of my friend commented in Facebook
    “Those brave hearts who watched “Himmatwala” and were still alive are the real “Himmatwala”Recommend

  • heera

    Tammannah is a sindhi Khatri.She is a beauty goddess owns a temple in her own name,in south india.She is a natural actress .Only at the age of 23 ,acted in 25 movies .Himmatwala is her first movie in hindi film industry.Best wishes to Tammannah..Recommend

  • Anwar Soomro

    Tamannah is a Sindhi with ancestral roots in Pakistan not a south Indian! Bollywood has several beautiful and talented people with roots/ethnicity in Pakistan like SRK, Kader Khan, Dilip Kumar , the KapoorsRecommend

  • heera

    @Anwar Soomro: After partition sindhis r scattered in different part of india.In south of india,a temple is build on her name.Recommend

  • Foreign Leg

    Good review! Thanks for keeping faith in Bollywood, I gave up a long time ago.
    Like you, I too am a big fan of the movies from the 80s and earlier. They are still classic and original.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Some actors get popular by sheer Luck- Ajay Devgan is one of them. The age difference between Ajay and Tamanna is too much to bear…Ajay should have acted as her Chacha (Uncle) if not her Baba (Father)Recommend

  • Critical

    Thats the biggest mystery to me…
    Back in 2003,when i was 17…I’ve seen Tamanna appear in a local ad
    Now its 2013,I’m 27 and she is just 23….Mind you,she didnt look anywhere less than 18 in that old ad…

    Maybe,Tamanna has found the cure everyone was searching for,delay ageing…Maybe she’s the female Benjamin ButtonRecommend

  • heera

    @Critical: I dont know.I have to believe whatever her data showsRecommend

  • Mansi

    To all the readers commenting on Pakistani roots of Indian actors. Didn’t you feel they belonged to this land when you drove them away for their religious beliefs?Recommend

  • heera

    @Critical: I thought your age is 97.Recommend

  • Prabhat Pal

    I’ll let you in on a secret, movies in bollywood are made for a singular intention today – ripping people off of their money and intellect. Recommend

  • Ammar

    Alot of Fantasy is expected by Sajid..probably this was not his best work but the movie looked like of 80’s..watching Sajid’s movie u need to take brain out of ur head..the movie was pure entertainment(masala entertainment)…and for such movie we dont need critics bcz thy r always going to rate it low..
    wonder who would u have picked if Ajay was not even ur 5th choice.
    Mahesh Manjhrekar suited well with the role…Recommend

  • https://shafiqpenworks.blogspot.com Shafiq

    @ Ammar – Akshay Kumar, Govinda, Emran Hashmi, Shahid Kapoor and Aamir Khan would have been the fist choices. The concept behind Himmat Wala was not “Action Oriented Hero”, if you can recall the original Himmatwala it was Jetendra, who was a soft, melo-dramatic and romantic hero (at time they had Dharmendra, Amitabh and Vinod Khanna in the league too). The role needed a performer who could look righteous, Adarsh waadi (obedient) son, witty / notorious and helpless brother. I dont think Ajay had looked any of the mentioned ones.
    Who says Masala movies are rated bad by critics? Aankhain, Sholay, Dewana Mastana, Rowdy Rathor, Jannat 2 and Dirty Picture etc have been critically acclaimed.
    Mahesh Manjhrekar (as stated above) is very talented but he goes overboard in this movie. The character needed a cruel sarpanch whose weakness was his daughter. Here he did not need any cheap jokes and exaggeration. Have you really watched Amjad Khan performing the same role?Recommend

  • https://shafiqpenworks.blogspot.com Shafiq

    @Foreign Leg! True that, those were the days of real experimentation.It’s bad that we can only recall cheap movies but there were some thought provoking movies too. They used to work really hard and that used to made their movies at box office / cinema for months, not like today where its all about crores and investments. Goods and bads have been associated with everyone in every era but one should try to appreciate the good. Recommend

  • Anwar Soomro


    I am ethnic Sindhi and in Sindh pre partition , we have lived with Hindu Sindhis as brothers. We still have many of them living in the village where I hail from. It was the influx of Mohajirs in our cities which drove out Hindus and created tensionRecommend

  • Critical

    @Critical: I thought your age is 97.
    Maybe when I become 97,Tamanna will hit 27 :)Recommend

  • heera

    @Critical:I got it …you r hurt coz she is younger than you.Really sad..Recommend

  • Ammar

    Thank God they didnt picked Govinda,hashmi or Shahid kapoor..Ajay was the perfect fit for the role as he is good in comedy and action squence and its believable tht he can beat 20 ppl at a time..u dont have any rite to critize the movie when u picking Govinda,Hashmi and Shahid kapoor as ur first preference ahead of Ajay..according to the role Mahesh was the rite job..he looked perfect when he passes cheap jokes..this movie was not a serious movie and u didnt got emotional even for a second..Mahesh role was cruel but not serious..remake doesnt mean exact copy….havnt watched the old one..
    Masala entertainment i meant movies wid no story..movies which only work on masala..Aankhain, Sholay, Dewana Mastana, Rowdy Rathor, Jannat 2 and Dirty Picture..all had story.Recommend

  • http://www.shafiqpenworks.wordpress.com Shafiq

    If you think that Ajay is a good comedian or can do justice with comic roles then “God save Comedy”. He can do anything but comedy. No one can beat Govinda in comic roles (refer the box office for that), Hashmi always performs top notch no matter what kind of role he portrays. Shahid looks adorable, decent and have all the potential. Ajay is just not right.
    By the way Masala Entertainment is a movie that can be seen again and again and one can’t resist but watch such movies every time they are showcased or telecast.
    Himmatwala had a definite story line but it was blessed with amazing wittiness, drama, romance and vengeance.
    The problem is, today we are not into watching the original stuff and we think that copied is better than original one.
    Anyways, at the end of the day everyone has his/her own choice, dont want to imply anything, just shared what I felt.Recommend

  • Shobha N.

    @ Author, you definitely took me to the days when watching Jeetu Ji’s movie with Sridevi used to be a treat for all. I loved your review as it made me recall my childhood and the power of hindi cinema. The scenes which you have mentioned fro Amit Ji’s movies can only be recalled by a bolly buff and none else. You surely know your field. I am keeping a track of your reviews since Jannat 2, though I some what disagreed with your Vivky Donor’s Review. But let me tell you this movie review is really interesting.
    Keep writing. And those who don’t know or haven’t watched the original Himmatwala, for them there is no need to get worried about the baseless criticism. As they are into eating artificial flavors. They are far from the real thing. Recommend

  • GK

    Good review.Recommend

  • umair409

    I muster up enough himmat to watch this movie, while watching I remained disappointed & couldn’t finish watching in one installment. Unusual pairing (black hero & white heroine/old & too young), ajay devgan, old plot & not so funny dialogues are the main minuses for this movie. As recommended by author don’t waste your time by watching this crap.Recommend

  • http://www.shafiqpenworks.blogspot.com Shafiq

    @ Shobha, Thanks a lot, it really feels great to see someone reading it out the way it was meant to write.
    @ GK – ThanksRecommend

  • vexed

    All those doubting Ajay Devgn’s Acting skills are requested to go watch Gangajal, Apaharan and even Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam where he only came into the film in the second half and had a handful of scenes to make an impact.
    He has his limitations in delivering crass-comedy, yes. Maybe that’s why Himmatwala didn’t work. He was wonderful in ‘Pyar toh hona hee tha’ with Kajol.
    Himmatwala is the kind of film that doesnt deserve a serious review.
    Here’s a joke doing the rounds this month that does it more justice.

    Q- If Sajid Khan,his sister Farah Khan and her hubby Shirish Kunder fell off the the terrace of a tall building, who would survive?

    A- Indian cinema.Recommend