Revisiting Ajay Devgn’s Debut, Phool Aur Kaante For His Birthday: Predictable, But Perfect Bollywood Boiler
A mention of Phool Aur Kaante and we all think of Ajay Devgn separated standing on two bikes, sending kisses to the girls as they enter his college. Hands down, this remains one of the best intro scenes in Bollywood. Devgn might have shown us variations of the same in his later films (about cars and horses), but it was special. It was his launching pad, and it was his step into potential stardom.
Released in 1991, Phool Aur Kaante is a quintessential 90s Hindi film, and its hit songs are part of all the growing years of 90s children “Maine Pyaar Tumhi Se Kiya Hai”, “Tumse Milne Ko Dil Karta Hai ”and“ Dheere Dheere Pyar Ko Badhana Hai ”. I’m no exception, but revisiting the movie on Ajay Devgn’s birthday today, I had a few surprises.
The film is filled with themes that we can easily call repressive today. A college romance would always start with stalking and intrigue, with teachers encouraging you to give the “boy a chance.” After all, he’s cute! Seeing Phool Aur Kaante again in 2021 comes with a healthy portion of teeth grinding.
Phool Aur Kaante marked the debut of not only Devgn but also Madhoo (who plays Pooja) in Hindi films. The first half of the movie revolved around Devgn forcing Madhoo to fall in love with him. To do this, he follows her everywhere, paints her room with “Ajay loves Pooja” and even hijacks the university’s announcement microphone to express his “love” to her. What should have made him spend a few years behind bars is that the girl says yes to him and a happy marriage follows.
In the second half, Devgn (Ajay) attempts to overthrow his father’s (Amrish Puri) crime empire as his descendant, as he wishes to lead a peaceful life. In the middle is the kidnapping of her son and Madhoo’s son by a rival gang. Whether Puri will negotiate between his company and his family, or will Ajay end up walking his father’s path, is the heart of the story.
The film is loaded with stereotypes and I laughed at a lot. One of the names of the villains is Rocky. There is a comic-romantic track between two university professors. The girl succumbs to the guy’s “love” after threatening to kill herself. The gangster dad reverses dialogue straight out of a Bollywood donation book. Madhoo’s typical bahu act after the wedding is, well, hilarious.
The plot of Phool Aur Kaante is highly predictable. The movie would have been another forgettable ’90s masala blend had it not been for its high octane action, one of a kind at the time.
Needless to say, Ajay Devgn’s dad and veteran Bollywood action director Veeru Devgan saved the best stunts and punches for his son’s first movie. Phool Aur Kaante set the tone for Ajay Devgn’s career as an action star for several years, until he diversified his craft and dabbled in comedy, drama and romance. with Golmaal, Ishq, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Raincoat, Raajneeti, Omkara and others.
Phool Aur Kaante is a very elegant film for its time. Actors’ outfits perfectly match the fashion of lace and high waisted skirts and pants. Adding to the charm, the innocent looks of Ajay Devgn and Madhoo. I think they suited their characters, young, raw, and charming, as the camera lavishly plays with the close-ups of their eyes and their facial expressions.
His music had the typical Nadeem-Shravan touch, with our favorite ’90s singers, Kumar Sanu, Anuradha Paudwal, Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik all gathered for his album. Growing up on its tracks was therefore expected.
Phool Aur Kaante is turning 30 in November this year. It sure makes us feel a bit old. But considering her journey through three decades, Phool Aur Kaante doesn’t feel as dated as I expected. It was just the perfect launch for an actor, with perfect songs, perfect action, and of course, the perfect storyline, at least for the year it was released.
I won’t be surprised if someone announces a remake of Phool Aur Kaante. Although I hope not. The original is monotonous and predictable, but special.
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