Qasam Munnay Ki (1987)
Cast: Mohd Ali, Sangeeta, Babra Sharif, Faisal, Afzal Ahmad, Sabiha Khanum
Nutshell: Drama, Tears, Sacrifice, Jaw Dropping Stunts, Ninja warriors, motherhood, Gay Villains in underground dens, Babra Sharif as an inbred moron, Sangeeta in overdrive…epic.
Bombastic and flamboyant Tiger has everything working brilliantly; his underworld empire stretches across the land and the money is pouring in like never before enabling him to afford the most amazingly fabulous outfits straight out of RuPaul’s Drag race. His specialty is the Tiger ensemble featuring a perky little orange and black tiger-striped body suit in a fluffy but sexy material with matching hat. He also appears frequently in his preferred leather gear with his own twist in that he is prone to using white leather with black highlights as in cap or dog collar and wristlets rather than the all black leather look of conventional leather men. There are studs and spikes everywhere and he looks ready to head down to Buddies or The Dungeon at any given time of the day or night.
Yet there is one last thorn in his side that causes his immense discomfort, an upright citizen Mohd Ali who time and again proves to be scourge to his nefarious plans by being so damn morally upright. Just last month he has had at least ten of Tigers cubs apprehended and jailed and things are getting a bit out hand and so Tiger has called a meeting of his associates and henchmen to try and plan the elimination of Mohd Ali once and for all clearing the way for world domination.
At home the earnest, saint like patriot Mohd Ali relaxes with his wife telling about the plans he has for his little son but their peace is shattered when Tiger’s goons show up and though the elderly Mohd Ali puts up heroic resistance, he cops it in the end and it is left to his wife, Sangeeta to step up and she does dramatically; clutching the infant by his arm and thrusting him up into the air dramatically with one hand as she delivers her fiery vengeance speech that ends with the films titles “Qasam Munnay Ki” appearing on screen.
Sangeeta clutches her precious Munna close as she takes to begging in the cold, heartless streets. Just when all is lost she finds some support and sympathy from an old woman who gives her shelter but the kind old woman turns out to have some issues of her own and ends up lecturing her endlessly and forcing her to give up her child to the old bag. Being in no position to argue and keeping in mind that her primary motive in life was to avenge her husband she agrees to leave the child with the domineering old woman (Sabiha) and devotes herself to her cause. Fortunately for Sangeeta she has found herself a Sugar Daddy who has taken her in from the streets. He is the head of a large crime syndicate himself and when he finds that Sangeeta and he have a bitter and common enemy in Tiger, they bond together as father and daughter and swear to deliver justice to the horrid Tiger for Mohd Ali’s murder and put an end to those outlandish Ali Xeeshanesque outfits he hangs out in.
In the most thrilling scenes of the film, Tara (Sangeeta), a frumpy, traditional “Hai Allah” type housewife is transformed into the svelte, turban wearing Avenging Ninja of Death Madame X. Okay, maybe not svelte as Madame Sangeeta by the time this movie came around had put on the kilo’s and was mashallah looking rather healthy by now. None the less, as director of this movie, she has given herself all the juicy vengeful bits and certainly does justice to the part.
Meanwhile her son has grown up as Faisal whose resemblance to the Bilawal Bhutto of today is rather uncanny. Babra Sharif enters the scene playing the undergrown imp that she excelled at and is the romantic interest of Faisal. It is interesting that in the Faisal Babra dynamic, it was often Babra who was the dominant character to Faisal’s rather passive one. He was the perfect foil for her madcap antics so adored by the public.
Like with most revenge oriented films of its kind, the movie has to go off into some romantic tangents at this point and through those there are all sorts of entanglements and misunderstandings along the ultimate showdown with Tiger.
It’s a spectacularly dire film alleviated by Madame Sangeeta’s excellent performance as Madame X and aforementioned scene featuring her transformation from mealy mouthed, dutiful wife to a Death Ninja Warrior. The cast is indeed a seasoned and impressive one but the script and direction are on auto pilot and the film other than the Madame X scenes is putrid and uninspired. That the film actually performed fairly well at the box office is mind boggling, but then the late 80s were the start of a lengthy spell of awfulness when it came to type of product churned out, often in two languages and catering to the lowest common denominator as by 1987 the VCR was accessible to all and Bollywood was the preference of 90% of the overall populace and 99.9% of the Urdu speaking audience.