Khanjar was released in 2003 after having been started 8 years previously. This film is not to be confused with the 1980 film of the same name. The DVD cover says it was it was the "thriller of the year"! This is a Bollywood (Hindi language) film.
Mr Kumar fires his employee Shadashiv for embezzling 2.5 million rupees telling him he has 10 weeks to return the money or face jail. They get a call saying he has committed suicide by setting himself on fire having left a letter for Mrs Kumar in which he declares his undying love for her and stating how he stole and blew the money on her. Mrs Kumar is sent away leaving her older son Raja with her husband in Simla and moving away. She brings up her third child, daughter Komal and middle child, Ajay, in another part of India. Fast forward 20 or so years and Ajay has managed to get himself a job in Simla much to his mother's dismay, she tells her children of her past and how she was dishonoured and sent packing by her husband due to Shadashiv's lies and her son Ajay vows to do well in his job and find his father in Simla.
The rest of the story is about how things progress in Simla...
The plot summary I've given above is basically what happens in the first 5 minutes of a film which is well over 2 hours in duration. The first 5 minutes of the film were really the only bits that made much sense. After that, it pretty much all went pear shaped and so many sub-plots it was impossible to keep track. We have a wife and two children exiled by her husband as he believes his business manager is the father of his second child and the third child that his wife is still carrying. Wouldn't any man with any common sense not think that it might be a lie, give his wife the benefit of the doubt and maybe even consider a, ummm, paternity test? They have been around for many years now, after all! The film jumps forward 20 or so years, it's not apparent as to how much time has progressed and the middle child tells his mother and sister he's got a job paying 10,000 Rupees a month but doesn't say what the job is and nor do we ever actually see him at work during the rest of the film although we find out through hearsay during the film that he's a dancer at a hotel. Now I know Indian families fairly well and for a mother to be proud of having brought up her kids alone and put them through university and for the son to then go off and become a dancer in a hotel, I didn't buy it. It's just not the done thing in the Indian culture. But then, pretty much nothing about this film made much sense until the last few scenes and by then, I had honestly stopped caring.
Someone is committing murders on the 13th of each month, but the police don't seem too perturbed about it. Maybe it's because the victims are bad guys? These bad guys don't really seem like bad guys, they just mostly come across as aging playboys and the murderer gets around on a flashy motorbike wearing a long PVC coat, shiny long boots with a dagger tucked into his left boot. He kills all his victims with the dagger (the Khanjar of the film's title) and the police, even when they have clues, don't seem to get anywhere with their investigation. In one scene we see a senior police official getting a phone call about another murder and his reaction is akin to getting news that someone is another town's cat had kittens: "Oh there's been another murder, has there?" No awards for anyone's acting skills in this movie, that's for sure.
Sunil Shetty "stars" as Raja, the oldest Kumar offspring. Not sure how old his character is supposed to be but he seems to be working as a stable hand in what seems to be his father's grounds and there's no sign of his father. Along with him works Lily who has a crush on him. Don't know who this actress was, she couldn't act either. Then there's a guy called Anand, not sure how old he's supposed to be, but he's a drunk. And why is he a drunk? Because the woman he once loved, Anita (don't know who this actress was, she couldn't act to save her life either), married a rich guy instead of him and told Anand that she just used him for sex! That made me chuckle, a bit, but it did make me chuckle! A woman in an Indian film using a guy for sex?! Wow, things sure have progressed in Bollywood films.
Raja is in love with Shilpa (played by Tabu). Jimmy, who runs the hotel where Ajay apparently works as a dancer, is also in love with Shilpa. The local "don" Pammi (now that's a girly name for a so called gangster) is also in love with Shilpa. Shilpa is a brat through and through. We see her ride her motorbike into college grounds and right up to her classroom and enter the class and take a seat. When the professor tells her she's late (it's 10am, the class started at 9am), Shilpa says she doesn't care, time stands still for her and the class needs to run according to her timetable. She then beckons the rest of her classmates with her finger and they all skip out of the classroom to go for a drive. Weird? Just a bit! How does a girl so spoilt and arrogant have 3 men in love with her? Jimmy buys Shilpa a car, Pammi wants to buy the car but the car dealer tells Pammi that Jimmy has already bought and paid for the car, so Pammi gets upset, throws his toys out of his pram and sets the car alight, is dragged away by his henchman so he doesn't also catch fire and then gives the car dealer a blank cheque saying "No one refuses Pammi, if they do, he sets fire to them!" Then proceeds to use what looks like an asthma inhaler. I laughed at this scene, not a lot, but I did laugh. Hmmm, what next? The car dealer delivers the blank cheque to Jimmy and he tears it up. Silly boy, I would have filled it out for all the money in the world and tried to cash it. We don't actually see Pammi or Jimmy anywhere near Shilpa during the movie.
Ajay (played by Prithvi, never seen this actor before or since) falls in love with Nisha but pretends to be her best friend's boyfriend first to win her heart, yes, that's what he did, I have no idea how he thought that was a good idea. Nisha is so annoyed with this that she decides to take him for a long drive out into the wild and drug his drink and leave him to the animals in the wild. Except she drinks the drugged drink and crashes her car and passes out. When she awakes she finds herself surrounded by a bunch of buffoons intent on raping her. Except they behave more like monkeys than buffoons, they jump around licking and kissing the car windows making chimp like noises and I actually laughed out loud; even though this was supposedly to be the lead up to an attempted rape scene.
Now we come to some of the weirdest stuff in the film. I understand the filming of Khanjar started about 8 years before it was finished so they used the footage of Sunil Shetty and Tabu from back then and merged it with the rest of the film as they both refused to take part in any more filming for the movie. This makes the film look absolutely bizarre throughout. Sunil Shetty and Tabu are first billed in the credits but in actuality they don't really appear much in the film (probably less than 30 minutes in total). In one fight scene you can clearly see that the old footage has been put in and Shetty's character goes from being kidnapped in a telephone booth and dragged down the road by baddies on horses to having a major fight scene in which he's suddenly wearing a balaclava which appears out of nowhere in the scene. I was past being shocked at this stage, even if the balaclava wearing dude was obviously not even the same body size as Shetty! This is the worst acting I've ever seen from Tabu and I'm pretty sure she's mighty embarrassed having accepted the role in this film as it does her no favours at all. Thankfully every other film I've seen her in her acting was a great deal better!
If this was a western film, it would have been one of those straight to video films but being Bollywood it was released in the cinema. It's a 15 certificate and I'd say that was appropriate, kids would be bored rigid and even more confused than me if they watched it. There are lots of scenes of scantily clad women n bikinis in swimming pools or Jacuzzis which I guess were for titillation for those who find that titillating (most of the male population who go to the cinema in India). I just found it cringe worthy.
I usually skip through songs in Bollywood films if they don't appeal to me but I'd have to admit to not disliking the songs in Khanjar, I doubt any of them were hits but they were actually quite melodious, especially the ballads. I would say here there was a funny song (which wasn't supposed to be funny) when Anand is singing his broken heart out to Raja in the stables about his lost love drinking a little of booze, except the drink in the bottle looks like banana milkshake and when Raja takes the bottle from him to drown his own sorrows and downs it in one, he suddenly starts playing a shiny new trumpet (which appears out of thin air). How random!
Cinematography? Doesn't bear mentioning. Scenes were so badly merged together the cinematographer and film editor should have got an award for the WORST work of the decade if not the century.
Ooh did I forget to mention that the producer and director of the film, Chander Sharma, actually gave himself a starring role in the film; I won't tell you which character he plays as you, like me, really won't care! Like his producing and directing skills, Sharma didn't have any acting skills to write home about either
I'm going to be generous and give Khanjar 1 out of 5 stars. How is that generous, you may ask? Well it's impossible to give 0 out of 5, so that's me being generous.
Producer/Director: Chander Sharma
Main cast: Sunil Shetty, Tabu, Mohan Joshi, Gulshan Grover, Laxmikant Berde,
Supporting cast: Rocky Sandhu, Diviya Diwedi, Sanjeeda, Pankaj Dheer, Trishna, Prithvi, Chander Sharma
Screenplay/Dialogue: S Khan
Cinematography: Anil Dhanda
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Music: Anand Utpal
Release date: 2003
Duration: 140 minutes
DVD extras: scene selection, subtitles, individual song playback