Himmatwala – just hype and not a hit?

After grand promotions, critics and the public were left unimpressed by Himmatwala. Is it a case of just hype and not a hit for Sajid Khan’s latest venture?

"I have made it [Himmatwala dances] on a more extravagant and larger scale."

Director Sajid Khan’s, Himmatwala is a remake of the classic 80’s hit. He uses his own creative flare to re-fashion the original film for modern audiences. Following the success of his previous films, Khan declared it to be one of the three biggest films of 2013.

Released on 29th March, the film picked up a decent 12 crore on its opening day at the box office. Then 7.2 crore on the second day, beating Ajay Devgn’s Son of Sardar collection of 10.72 crore. However, according to the critics and public, the film failed to deliver in all its entirety, despite being one of the most hyped films of 2013.

It’s collection overseas were £41,917 from the UK, $25,142 from Australia, $14,782 from New Zealand, and $71,100 from the US. The second day raked in £36,035 from the UK, $17,763 from Australia and $9,104 from New Zealand.

The plot mirrors the narrative of the original with a few minor tweaks. Ravi (played by Ajay Devgn) returns to his ancestral village to seek revenge on the landowner, Sher Singh (played by Mahesh Manjrekar), who destroyed his family.

HimmatwalaHis grief-stricken mother Savitri (played by Zarina Wahab), his sister, and the villagers are all living under strict rules of the landowner.

When his sister is forced into marrying the son of Naryan Das (Paresh Rawal), Ravi finds a way to save the day and win justice for his family with the help of Sher Singh’s daughter, Rekha (played by Tamaannah).

The trailer, in full-on 80’s fashion with vibrant colours, retro clothing and energetic dance numbers, was released earlier this year. Without revealing too much of the story, the trailer displays some of the action scenes and short clips of the dance items.


It begins with Devgn swinging bells preparing to fight 50 goons as he delivers his dramatic heroic dialogue. Ajay also takes on a ferocious tiger.

The Hindustani Times defended the film saying: “Sajid Khan isn’t spoofing the 80’s. He’s celebrating and recreating the decade.”

However, they pointed out that the film is all about entertainment. Right from styling the action scenes to the fiery dialogue: “Everything that you get to see in Himmatwala is reminiscent of the Bollywood of the 1980’s. The mother-son drama, the hero-villain conflict, the heroism…even Ajay’s introductory sequence is straight out of 1980’s.”

HimmatwalaSpeaking about the choreography, Farah Khan said: “I watched the actors old films and after retaining one signature step and the essence of the original Himmatwala, I have made it on a more extravagant and larger scale.”

What makes the film most memorable for viewers was the legendary Paresh Rawal. Koimoi insists: “It is Paresh Rawal who once again brings on screen sheer brilliance. As Narayan Das, he easily surpasses Kader Khan who played the loyalist in the original flick.”

It also marks the return to Bollywood for leading lady Tamannaah. Her debut film was Chand Sa Roshan Chehra which released in 2005. Since then she became extremely popular in South Indian cinema, establishing herself as one of Tollywood’s top actresses.

Sajid believed her to be the perfect heroine to recreate Sridevi’s character with the same grace and elegance. Tamannah said:

“I am from Mumbai and I was waiting for a good script to come my way…Sajid, Ajay and Vashu are a brilliant combination and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”

Luckily, the film did well in single screens with high occupancy in UP, Bihar, Gujarat, CP, CI and Rajasthan. However, the film has failed to keep up with its competitors in large multiplexes. The negative word of mouth has led the film’s business to decline.

Komal Nahta, a renowned film critic gave a detailed review: “The screenplay…is too dated to appeal to today’s audience. It has the melodrama of the eighties, which has gone completely out of fashion today.”

ajay and tamannahThe problem is that Indian cinema has moved on from the eighties, the spark and conventions Sajid recreated are not appreciated by today’s audiences.

“Ajay Devgn is definitely not in his element. He seems to have tried to camouflage his embarrassment about being associated with this over-the-top drama. He is good in action scenes, fair in dramatic ones and embarrassingly bad in the dance sequences,” Nahta added.

Taran Adarsh’s summary of the film points out the pros and cons: “It’s the typical good versus bad saga loaded with every possible ingredient that makes masala films tick,” he said.

“What unfolds on screen is so routine and monotonous that you fervently hope for some novelty in this adaptation… the only silver lining is the presence of A-list stars and of course, the hype surrounding the film, which might attract footfalls in mass-friendly circuits initially. But as a film that promises big entertainment, Himmatwala is hugely disappointing,” he added.

Himmatwala is a film for those who loved the melodrama of the eighties. So far its response is average. However, Sajid and his team have put in an extreme amount of effort to recreate the original to make sure audiences can relive the magic.

What did you think of Himmatwala?

  • Time Pass (54%)
  • Mind Blowing (30%)
  • Okay (17%)
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Meera grew up surrounded with desi culture, music, and Bollywood. She’s a classical dancer and mehndi artist who loves everything connected with the Indian film and television industry and the British Asian scene. Her life motto is “do what makes you happy."