THE HERALD, May 1998
*ing Dilip Kumar (double role), Rekha, Mukul Dev, Mamta Kulkarni, Gulshan Grover, Satish Kaushik, Smita Jaykar, Kunika, Mala Chakravarty, Shabaz Khan, Avtar Gill, Umesh Shukla, Pramod Moutho
Screenplay: Umesh Mehra, Humayun Mirza
Story, Dialogue: Humayun Mirza
Lyrics: Dev Kohli
Music: Anand Raj Anand
Produced by: Parvesh C. Mehra
Directed by: Umesh Mehra
Dilip Kumar fans had been waiting since his last appearance in Saudagar seven years ago. So why couldn’t he wait for a little longer and get a film really worth his old age efforts? Well, perhaps there were elements in the story that could have promised a better film: a detective story-line, complete with courtroom suspense, and the strong character of an unconventional judge who resigns his seat in order to participate in the trial as an advocate. What has gone wrong is actually the screenplay which is rather shabby and dialogue (written by Humayun Mirza who also co-writes the screenplay with the director). On the whole, many viewers would agree that the greatest Asian actor of his age saves this unlucky venture from complete disaster: and there are some master touches that remind us of his greater performances, such as the curious glint in his eyes when towards the end his own character is thrown into suspicion by the accused in the trial. And, of course, the contrast between this role and the other one he plays in film, is amusing too. Incidentally, this is not the first time Dilip has played the twin roles of an honest judge and his corrupt brother, but his roles in Qila are poles apart from those in Daastan.
What really gets on your nerves is the amateur treatment of courtroom scenes in the second half. Somewhat palatable in Asian movies, the ignorance (or is it indifference?) of the filmmakers is irritating here because it spoils the otherwise very powerful performance of Dilip Kumar. And just like that, the choreographic skills of Rekha go waste against a music director (Anand Raj Anand) who seems intent upon coming up with boring music (now, this is what they should avoid when trying to imitate A.R.Rahman). The filmmakers, however, deserve some praise for their dexterity at throwing together Dilip Kumar and Rekha in two dance-song sequences and manipulating the situation to make up for their age difference (this is probably the first time Rekha has been teamed up with Dilip Kumar).
On the whole, Qila might not be as disappointing for Dilip Kumar fans as Dharam Adhikari and Ghar ki Izzat even if it does not turn out to be as exciting as Saudagar. Others (if any!) may also watch it if they are prepared to except a little bit of cold gravy with some good beef. Which makes out for the logical exception of Mamta-only fans, since she doesn’t reveal too much of herself in this film – just for a change?
P.S. If you don’t like half of your screen covered with tooth powder advertisements, you might be interested in knowing that a neat and clear print of the film is also available from some of the dealers.
On the whole, Qila might not be as disappointing for Dilip Kumar fans as Dharam Adhikari and Ghar ki Izzat even if it does not turn out to be as exciting as Saudagar.