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David Dhawan’s directorial debut: 35 years of ‘Taaqatwar’

Starcast: Sanjay Dutt, Govinda, Tanuja, Anita Raaj, Neelam, Paresh Rawal and Shakti Kapoor. Special Appearances by Anupam Kher and Anil Dhaw...

Starcast: Sanjay Dutt, Govinda, Tanuja, Anita Raaj, Neelam, Paresh Rawal and Shakti Kapoor. Special Appearances by Anupam Kher and Anil Dhawan

Although it didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, Govinda and Sanjay Dutt starrer Taaqatwar, released on June 16th, 1989 (which happens to be another big 80’s star Mithun Chakraborty’s birthday), holds a lot of significance for trivia hunters of Hindi cinema. It was the debut film of David Dhawan as a director, who was primarily an ace editor having edited seminal films such as Souten, Saaransh, Naam, Insaaf, etc. He went on to become one of the biggest directors in the 90’s. It was his first collaboration with Govinda and Sanjay Dutt, a combination which later gave the audience big hits like Haseena Maan Jayegi (1999), Jodi No. 1 (2001), and an above-average grosser Ek aur Ek Gyarah (2003).

It was also the debut production of the “Raaj” family, presented by noted character actor Jagdish Raaj, produced by his son Bobby Raaj and starring his daughter Anita Raaj as one of the female leads. 

Storyline: Taaqatwar is a revenge saga that delves into the corrupt practice of illegal constructions which was quite prevalent in Mumbai in the 1980s. Honest municipal officer Vijay Sharma (Anupam Kher) gets killed trying to stop a spate of illegal constructions. Although he is killed by the evil Munjal Khurana (Shakti Kapoor), the onus falls on master D’mello (Anil Dhawan) due to the machinations by Sharma’s corrupt aide Ganguram (Paresh Rawal) and he is sentenced to death. When Mrs Sharma (Tanuja) gets to know about this, she makes sure D’mello’s son John gets a proper upbringing like her own son Amar. But John is unable to bear the taunts of his classmates and runs away. John (Govinda) grows up to be a criminal and a contract killer while Amar (Sanjay Dutt) grows up to be a tough cop who wants to avenge his father’s death. The rest of the film is about the cat-and-mouse chase between John and Amar and how they discover each other’s true identities. 

Performances: With black leather jackets and cool aviators Sanjay Dutt is literally the “Deadly” Dutt here, with his trademark swag and an able performance. Especially, he is excellent while displaying his pent-up anger on screen. Govinda, as the loveable crook John D’Mello “Ding Dong Wala”, is excellent in comic sequences and he is equally proficient in action scenes. Anita Raaj looks glamorous and her role is quite dynamic. Neelam looks cute as a button and proves to be an ideal foil for Govinda in the comic scenes. Shakti Kapoor is evil personified and does a good job, however his makeup is not convincing enough. He looks too young to play the father to Anita Raaj and Gulshan Grover. Tanuja is quite efficient. However, it’s Paresh Rawal as Gangaiya who almost towers over everyone else. His character has many shades and he does full justice to each one of them. 

Music: Music by Annu Malik is quite good. The songs Choron ki toli leke aaya pocketmaar (sung by Amit Kumar, Shabbir Kumar, Anupama Deshpande, and Chandrani Mukherjee) and John D’mello (sung by Kishore Kumar) were quite popular in the late 80’s. However, the song that remains underrated is the pulsating Aaiye aap ka intezaar tha (sung by Annu Malik and  Alisha Chinoy) picturized on the beautiful Anita Raaj. Incidentally, Annu Malik composed another song with similar initial lines five years later in Vijaypath (1994) which became a chartbuster. 

Overall, Taaqatwar is a typical masala potboiler of the late 1980s which is quite entertaining with drama, comedy, and action in good measures. David Dhawan, in his debut film showed the sparks of an able and successful director.  

By Ayushmaan Mitra

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