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20 years of Judwaa: What made Salman Khan’s twin act an endearing watch

On its 20th anniversary today (7 February), we decode some of the illogical, yet funny sequences that made David Dhawan’s Judwaa a classic masala entertainer of the 1990s.

Mayur Lookhar

In 1997 this day (7 February), David Dhawan's madcap comedy Judwaa released in theatres. An archetypal masala entertainer, Judwaa saw Salman Khan play a double role, going about the motions mostly with hilarious consequences. This year, David's son Varun Dhawan will step into Salman's shoes for Judwaa 2. Viewers and fans can expect another madcap comedy in keeping with current sensibilities.

On the 20th anniversary of Judwaa, we take a look at what made David's 1997 film a classic masala entertainer. 

Old wine in a new twin bottle

We've seen this storyline before — a tragic episode separates a set of twins, one turns out to be meek and the other a tough-talking slumdog. Circumstances bring the siblings together again, mostly with no knowledge of their blood relation. Anil Kapoor's Kishen Kanhaiyaa (1990) had a similar story. Judwaa, though, is also said to be inspired by Telugu film Hello Brother (1994), which itself was inspired by Jackie Chan’s Twin Dragons (1992). 

Director David's films have a standard storyline, but it's the packaging of humour that set them apart. While the protagonists do their job well, it is the supporting cast that brings in the much-needed humour. Satish Kaushik, Kader Khan, Satish Shah, Anupam Kher contributed immensely to Judwaa in the laughter department.

The inimitable cameo of Deepak Shirke

Deepak Shirke's villainous act mostly evoked plenty of guffaws. Despite a cameo, Shirke’s histrionics in Judwaa are memorable. Notorious dacoit Jayantilal Ratan (Shirke) makes an unsuccessful attempt to flee prison, moments after he's sentenced to death. Surprisingly, he tries to smash the head of Inspector Malhotra (Dalip Tahil) with his rifle, and you wonder why he wouldn't just shoot the man responsible for his arrest and conviction? Is it because the rifle did not have any bullets? Or is it because the filmmakers thought it was dramatic to smash than to shoot? We'll never know.

When wounded Jayantilal Ratan flees, he heads straight to the hospital where Inspector Malhotra's wife has delivered twins — Prem and Raja. He kidnaps one of the twins, then jumps out of the window, landing on his feet. Whatever happened to the bullet wound in his leg?

Only Deepak Shirke could have such regenerative powers.

David Dhawan gives Salman’s career a double boost

Those were the days when Shah Rukh Khan was the undisputed King in Bollywood. Salman had a phenomenal debut (as a lead actor) with Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989), but thereafter he played second fiddle to Madhuri Dixit and Shah Rukh in films like Hum Aapke Hain Koun! (1994) and Karan Arjun (1995), respectively. Post Karan Arjun, he had four successive flops in Veergati, Yeh Majhdaar, Khamoshi and Dushman Duniya Ka — all in 1996. The Sunny Deol-starrer Jeet (1996) was a box-office success, but not because of Salman who played second lead.

Moving away from action, Salman tried his hand at comedy again with his maiden collaboration with David. Judwaa refreshed memories of Salman's innocent, almost idiotic act in Andaz Apna Apna (1994). Judwaa's success stemmed the rot for a struggling Salman. In the same year, Salman played a cameo in his second David film Deewana Mastana — both films were declared superhit. 

When Anu Malik’s tunes rocked India

Talk of Judwaa today and most people are likely to remember the music more than the film's story. Dev Kohli's lyrics have a Bambaiya charm, as they drew inspiration from the Mumbai chawls. 'Oonchi hai building', 'East or West India is the best', 'Tan Tana Tan Tan Tan Tara' spoke closely to people across the spectrum. Parties in the 1990s had the soundtrack of Judwaa prominently on the playlist, with Anu Malik as the DJ.

The mystery of the reflex action

This is a science that only Bollywood can explain. Viewers had seen the reflex action theory in Rakesh Roshan’s Kishen Kanhaiya, where one brother feels/reacts the way the other did simultaneously. David incorporated the same in Judwaa. The reflex action here was used not just to help the meek sibling fight back, but here we see Prem and Ahuja kiss their girlfriends and later even answer nature's call together. The toilet sequence unites the siblings for the first time after 25 years. Thankfully, these reflex actions only come into effect when Prem comes from America to India. May be it's like Bluetooth or WiFi which work for a device only when in close proximity. 

Mukesh Rishi — A villain with a splendid talent

Bollywood villains in the 90s have been largely dark and cold-blooded, but not Tiger. David's antagonist in Judwaa had a flair about him. It’s not often that you find a villain play a flute each time he makes an appearance. However, that flute looked like a matchstick in the big hands of Mukesh Rishi.

Satish Shah and Anupam Kher's poor, but hilarious policing

Unlike, Prem and Raja, Guru (Satish Shah) and Vidyarthi (Anupam Kher) were not twins, but their pairing had an equally telling effect on the film. Guru and Vidyarthi are dimwitted cops who are innocently inefficient and set off a laugh riot whenever they attempt to nab Raja.

Rambha finds her feet in Hindi cinema

A film like Judwaa had little scope for the two heroines. Karisma Kapoor and Rambha were merely used like props, ornamentally placed to be with the hero when they sought affection. However, for south starlet Rambha, Judwaa was a first success story in Hindi cinema. The Hindi audience accepted Rambha with open arms. Her two hits in Hindi cinema were courtesy David — Judwaa and Gharwali Baharwali (1998).