Desan Da Raja (1998)
Cast: Shaan, Saima, Bahar Begum , John Rambo, Sana, Shafqat Cheema
Director: Parvaiz Rana
Synopsis: The usual Chaudhry Vs Chaudhry mayhem. Revenge, mayhem amidst morons
Desan Da Raja is more of the same – warring Chaudhry’s at each others throats with blood vows and doomsday threats. Much slanging, posturing, bellowing, and grunting amidst the occasional pelvic thrust and a spellbinding array of ill fitting wigs and wonderfully outlandish costumes and mustaches. It’s the usual pot bellied belligerent Chaudhry of one locality pitted against an arch rival from a nearby vicinity (yet again! Is this for real?) each with their coterie of goons all wearing the latest threads and sporting the most splendid sets of facial hair.
Here we have the buffoonish Chaudhry of Shikarpur (?) village who struts around his garden surrounding by minions, one of whom is Zafri (Shaan) who has the special responsibility of filling the great Chaudhry’s hookah and also acting as body guard cum masseur. Saima stars as the village belle milk woman who has the hots for studly Shaan and often intercepts him during his forays for a quick song and dance. Bahar Begum is Shaan’s mother who warns of dire consequences of meddling with the Chaudhry’s affairs and enmities and pleads with her son to walk away from a life of Chaudhry worship. She stresses to him that they are simple folk who are of no use to the self doting Chaudhry’s. But its all to no avail as Shaan is clearly utterly enamoured by Chaudhry Alamgir and massages him more and more frequently – often in public!
There is a tedious sub-plot involving Rambo, a simple village idiot who is employed by a rich dwarf to seduce a beauty he has his eyes on. The beauty is reformed (but not much) prostitute played by Sana who turns in a very convincing prostitute like performance. She seems rather natural in the role and her two dance numbers are among the high points of the film providing much needed raunchy masala to proceedings. Her initial number is a revelation in cheapness and a throwback to the super cheap pre-military days of the 70’s. She does a saucy dance to “sexy meri shirt sajan, sexy meri Pent!” charming indeed!
Sana’s other dance is another number full of raunch and masala, like the good old days. She zips around gyrating and thrusting all over the park to the cheap but hot number Bukal de vich chor. Saima is also in top cheap mode – one assumes director Parvaiz Rana has this effect on his performers! She pulls out all the jhatka’s for her two racy seductive numbers Kundi na Kharka and Paa Jhappian. The songs were clearly designed for the incomparable Madame Noor Jehan and would have turned into instant classics had she been capable of recording them. Alas ill health has meant that other lesser singers have had to try to fill a void – an impossible task, nonetheless they manage to do decent jobs without quite imparting the sizzle and the sparkle and oomph that Madame ji imparted her raunchy numbers.
The plot thickens when Zafri is arrested for murder that he committed in the name of his Chaudhry and then finds that his beloved Chaudhry isn’t quite so forthcoming with his help in an hour of need. Zafri remembers Bahar’s fateful warning about keeping close ties with the Chaudhry’s and he starts having serious second thoughts. The dwarf pays Zafri’s bail and he then goes to deliver the message to Chaudhry Alamgir that his sister is to marry a man from the opposing Chaudhry’s village and that he should bless the wedding being the Chaudhry of the locality. Naturally the Chaudhry has an almighty tantrum but Shaan insists that the will of his mother is more important than the will of a Chaudhry and so we are all set for a terrible clash and showdown. Will the mighty Chaudhry and his goons allow a daughter of their village marry an enemy from the “other side” or will Shaan be able to show the world that the word of a mother is far greater than that of a meaningless Chaudhry. All is revealed after the usual bloodbath and endless fight scenes.
The film is of interest mainly because it sheds light on this whole Chaudhry thing and how a mans importance in life is directly connected to the amount of land he owns and the amount of murders he has committed! Also the usual lawlessness, the abductions in broad daylight, the fact that all men are armed with machine guns, the violence towards women especially, the open condoning of honour killing….all reflect one way the values of a society at a certain time. Desan da Raja incidentally performed creditably at the Box Office even if it didn’t quite turn into the blockbuster that was expected.
Desan Da Raja is as predictable as could possible be, almost a parody of this style (the only style?) of Punjabi film but moves along at a reasonable pace. Mindless nonsense, but fascinating from a sociological point of view.