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aka Tirangaa 1992 168’ col/scope Hindi d/p Mehul Kumar pc M.K. Pics s K.K. Singh lyr Santosh Anand c Russi Bilimoria m Laxmikant Pyarelal lp Raaj Kumar, Nana Patekar, Varsha Usgaonkar, Harish, Mamta Kulkarni, Suresh Oberoi, Sonika Gill, Manohar Singh, Deepak Shirke, Rakesh Bedi, Alok Nath

Of the many ‘nationalist’ films made since the late 1980s (cf. Roja, 1992; 1942: A Love Story and Sainyam, both 1994) this commercial success is arguably the most bizarre. In order to overthrow the dreaded anti-national terrorist leader Pralaynath Gendalswamy (Shirke), the government of India hires Brigadier Suryadev Singh (Raaj Kumar), providing him with a secret commando hideout, secret access to the Prime Minister (Nath) and legal carte blanche which includes a police massacre of innocent people simply in order to enable Singh to become a convict, a move apparently necessary for his plans. Singh in turn hires the renegade cop Shivajirao Wagle (Patekar) and, after various skirmishes with the bad guys, the two men invade the villain’s hideout and scuttle his plan to destabilise the nation with rocket attacks on Independence day. The chillingly fascist arguments deployed in other Patekar-Mehul Kumar collaborations (cf. Krantiveer, 1994) are here partially undone by the surreal comic strip quality of the film, incarnated in Raaj Kumar’s flashy dress and uniquely rhetorical dialogue style, but extended into the plot by a plethora of smaller characters and by the filmmaker’s fascination with lethal gadgets with flashing lights (as in campy sci-fi effects). The plot extends into other areas as the villain’s equally bad son Rasiknath impregnates Radha, daughter of the evil Central Minister Jeevanlal Tandel (Singh), who in turn accuses Sanjiv, son of the fearless cop Rudrapratap Chouhan (Oberoi), of having raped her, thus providing extra motivation for the good guys, as if the filmmakers obscurely realised that their brand of nationalism was not by itself up to the task. At least some of the comic strip effects appear to have been intentional, such as the character of Khabrilal (Bedi), a police informer who speaks like a Doordarshan news reader and whose entry is always accompanied by the signature tune of Doordarshan’s news programme.