CAST & CREW
|Directed By||Saeed Akhtar Mirzaa|
|Music By||Sharang Dev|
|Pawan Malhotra||Ashutosh Gowariker|
|Makrand Deshpande||Neelima Azeem|
|Rajendra Gupta||Vikram Gokhale|
|Surekha Sikri||Nishigandha Wad|
Click HERE for a complete listing of Cast & Crew
‘Saleem Langde Pe Mat Ro’ is the story of a small time local goon Saleem Pasha, known as Saleem Langda for his sway and walking style. The movie revolves around Saleem’s struggle for identity, his fight for survival and his final ‘awakening’.
Born in a poor Muslim family Saleem is deprived of education as his father can not afford it. The hardships on the family are compounded when Saleem’s father loses his job. Saleem does odd jobs for the local mafia with his two friends Peera and Abdul. When he meets Aslam, who despite facing similar oddities is upright and wants to live by his principles, Saleem is torn between the fundamentalist thinking of radical groups around him and his desire to change situations for himself and his family. Just as it is felt that he would turn over a new leaf, he is stabbed to death by a rival gang leader.
The title seems justified when you recall the opening lines of the film which say that there are hundreds and thousands of Saleems on roads. One lesser won’t make much of a difference so no point crying for Saleem Langda.
Produced by NFDC, this was one of the first art movies that I watched during the DD (Doordarshan) days. The film is a simple and honest attempt at highlighting the growing communal divide and unrest that shaped Bombay (Sorry Mumbai) as we see today.
"Saleem Langde.. " is one of the better movies to be made in the age of sagging film making values in the decade of 80s amidst the mass trash that was being churned out. This movie calls for a genre of its own and stands high amongst its family which can include names like “Garam Hawa”, “City Of Gold”, “Black Friday” and “Firaaq”.
What is remarkable about the film is that it was made before the 1993 Mumbai Bomb blasts and hence whatever you see on screen is actually a realistic depiction of a bitter reality that was boiling in the under belly of the city.
If you align “Garam Hawa”, “City of Gold” “Saleem Langde Pe..” and “Black Friday” and watch them in the same order you would see a sorry pattern emerging out. While “Garam Hawa” talked about the need for Indian Muslims to align themselves with the main stream and ‘City of Gold’ specifically talked about the plight of mill workers thrown out of work, ‘Saleem Langde..’ beautifully captures the essence of the two situations.
Pawan Malhotra as the protagonist renders magic to the role. It is learnt that this role was originally written for Naseer-ud-din Shah and later the makers wanted someone younger and Pawan Malhotra who was doing active TV that time (remember ‘Nukkad’) was roped in. Had the movie been handled the way marketing for movies is done these days, Pawan Malhotra would have today been as big a star as Shahrukh Khan. His portrayal of the character is almost flawless. The scene where he bangs his fist on wall in anguish and vents out his anger stands out just as much the shot where he shouts to the world that he is an Indian and wants to live with dignity.
Catch the two scenes here:
The character of Saleem is ably supported by two other actors who have made a niche for themselves as star directors and film makers – Makrand Deshpande who plays Peera and Ashutosh Gowariker who plays Abdul. The scene where they try and steal the wipers of a Maruti 800 right in front of its owner is reasonably funny. Catch the scene HERE
Saleem’s love interest is played by Neelima Azim who plays a courtesan (if that is an accepted term now a days). She however, is better known for her role as a support star in Lekh Tandon’s TV serial ‘Phir Wohi Talaash’ and as Pooja Bhatt’s friend in Sanjay Dutt starrer ‘Sadak’. Of course we now know her as Actor Shahid Kapur’s mother. Rajendra Gupta who plays Aslam does well in his character sketch role of a progressive new age Muslim who wants better education and logical thinking for his people. Vikram Gokhale as Saleem’s father justifies his role and so does Surekha Sikri (You would recognize her as the Dadi-Sa on Balika Vadhu these days).
I personally thought Nishigandha did not get her due as an artist. She is not your typical hip-gyrating heroine but still very beautiful and eases into her role. The other sparks of brilliance in the movie are provided by guest artists who later went onto achieve greater heights in their career. Tom Alter and Ajit Vachchaani in their brief roles do not fail to impress. Mushtaq Khan acts as a sweeper who digs out a dead body from a sewer and has only a few lines to deliver but the overall impact of the scene lasts way longer than its duration. Even the extras on the film are noteworthy. You can see a fleeting glimpse of writer – director Neeraj Vora (who played Aamir Khan’s friend in Mann and ‘Chako Ji’ in RGV directed Daud) as a ‘Churan – wala’ in one of the scenes. Yet with one line that he delivers in a ‘blink and you miss me role’ one can recognize him.
The official music director on the film is Sharang Dev. However, there are no songs in the movie. There is a bit piece which Neelima Azim lip syncs and dances to and a small chunk to which Pawan, Ashutosh and Makrand shake their legs. Nothing much to write about on this front.
Overall a 4 out of 5 attempt, the film excels on its simplicity and its potency to connect to the audience. The direction and the performances make it a worth watch if you do not mind some doses of preaching thrown in.
The movie is available on Moser Baer if you can spend a few bucks and on YouTube if you want it for free.