'Hanuman Da Damdaar'
Director: Ruchi Narain
Cast: Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon, Kunal Kemmu, Javed Akhtar, Chunky Pandey, Saurabh Shukla, Makrand Despande, Vinay Pathak, Sneha Khanwalkar, Hussain Dalal
"Hanuman Da Damdaar" is a modern retelling of Hanuman's glory, which is far from Valmiki's narration in the Ramayana, or for that matter, any narrative found in the scriptures. This is the story of Hanuman's beginnings, of how he was transformed from Maruti to the revered Hanuman.
After a near-fatal accident, Anjani, Maruti's mother, ensures that he leads a protected life. She shelters him to the extent of making him a near nincompoop.
When his father, Senapati Kesari, returns from war and notices that his once brave son has now become a scared little boy, he is disappointed and upset. Realising this, Maruti feels bad for his father and himself. So, he prays to the gods to make him the bravest kid in the world.
The gods answer his prayer and lead him into a series of adventures, introducing him to new experiences and friends which ultimately help him to metamorphose.
While the tale seems unassuming and non-convoluted, in reality the film, which begins with promise, soon dissipates all notions of being a good entertainer.
In fact, the plot meanders with playful frivolity. The dialogues are crass and cheesy, packed with distasteful humour, consisting of innuendoes and double entendres in contemporary lingo laced with pop-culture and Bollywood jargon, making the film obviously low on class and quality.
Sample some of these: "Hey I'm half Lankan, half Indian. Tum kya samjhe, naughty, naughty," or, "Wah beta, apne aap ko smarty pants samajthe ho?" or, "While I am shaking, your time starts now."
This apart, there are a few meaningful lessons dispensed, though intermittently. These lessons are soon lost in the overall scheme of things.
The main attractions are the voices lent by A-listers of the Hindi film Industry. But unfortunately, despite their well-modulated voices they can't lift the script from mediocrity.
Salman Khan as the older Hanuman sets the narrative rolling by being magnanimous and destroying his version of the Ramayana so that Valmiki's version could prevail. And being the megalomaniac that he is, his dialogues are loaded with self-references, mainly to his popular dialogues and film titles. This gives the desired punch to propel the tale, but it simultaneously drops the reverence factor of the source material.
Keeping the momentum with Salman's tone of delivery is Arnav as Baby Hanuman. The tenor in his voice accentuates the child-like voice and innocent trait.
The others who aptly support them are: Javed Akhtar as Valmiki, Kunal Khemu as Indra, Raveena Tandon as Maruti's mother Anjani, and Saurabh Shukla as Maruti's dad Kesari. But it is Husain Dalal as Garuda and Sneha Khanwalkar as Maruti's loyal companion, the chameleon Seeti, who stand out among the crowd.
On the technical front, keeping in mind the exposure today's kids have to world class animation, the 2D animation presented by Ruchi and her team definitely seems obsolete and drab.
It would be difficult to recommend this film to anyone who is inclined towards mythological -- or, indeed, animation -- films.
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