If Sangharsh doesn't have you on the edge of your seat, you belong to its cast. Akshay Kumar and Preity Zinta have done an impressive job as a criminal and a CBI officer in pursuit of a psychotic Ashutosh Rana, who sacrifices little children to please Goddess Kali. Gokul Pandit may be all set to give way to Lajja Shankar Pandey, but it is to the credit of the film's leading pair that their performances don't pale before his.
Director Tanuja Chandra and Ashutosh Rana are fast becoming masters of the macabre. Each leading character seems to have the proverbial nine lives, and the violence is quite overcoming at times. Thankfully, action is where it is centred; we are spared the details of the sacrifice ritual, which could have been worse. Girish Dhamija supplements the plot with smart dialogues, whether it is the wisecracks of Akshay in prison or Madan Jain labelling Preity Zinta a modern Hunterwali. Jain as a corrupt police officer is an interesting change from the wronged youth he normallyplays.
For a decidedly violent film as this, the songs are soothing and unlikely to send viewers out for a break. Sameer and Jatin-Lalit fail only when they try to achieve Mohammed Rafi's Mujhe dekh kar aap ka muskurana with Sonu Nigam in Mujhe raat din bas mujhe chahti ho. A continuity faux pas occurs when Easter is shown as being celebrated around January 22. A couple of scenes are sure to catch your attention, like the one where Preity Zinta gets past police security with accented English and a veiled warning of the home minister's wrath, as well as Ashutosh in a sari singing Woh subah kabhi to aayegi while he awaits the solar eclipse. And the reference to Goddess Kali with the psychopath letting out bloodcurdling screams and putting out his tongue is set to haunt. This crime thriller is value for money.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.