Shool has been awaited for some time as the film that would launch Raveena Tandon the actress. Well, nothing venture, nothing win. Raveena, who plays the wife of police officer Manoj Bajpai, does look different in a realistic role and shorn of her usual glamour. There is little for her to do except play housewife in the first part of the movie, but she does a convincing job when tragedy overtakes the family in the post-interval phase. She has her fingers crossed for this film, and is banking on it heavily now that Dus is but a dream.
Manoj Bajpai is a police officer whose heart is in the right place, but his hot-headedness proves to be his nemesis. For he is fighting corrupt politicians in no less a place than Bihar, which producer Ramgopal Varma and new director E Nivas chose probably because the state is above the law. Of course, you are willing to appreciate the need and courage of a man in a moth-eaten system, daring to fight it. But as you wish him luck in a particularly tough situation, you add aprayer for restraint and practicality. No use, though. Bajpai lands up losing his job, and worst of all, even his daughter and wife, to a scheming Bihari MLA played by Sayaji Shinde with a pronounced Marathi accent.
The heavy overdose of violence would only appeal to those struck by the Satya Syndrome. The rest of the audience would want to shut its senses to the assault being inflicted on it.
Of course, Shool's USP is Shilpa Shetty's song Main aayi hoon UP Bihar lootne, which has become a sort of anthem on the TV programme, Movers and Shakers.
The final 15 minutes of the film are interesting, especially the hospital scene. Raveena rebukes her husband for his rigid attitude, but says she obviously loves him or else she would not tolerate his faults the way she does. Manoj counters that were she and the kid not in the picture as vulnerable targets, he would have killed the MLA by then. He does do it finally, but there's no family picture at the end.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.