Killerk (Clerk –1989) – A Movie Review
To boldly go where no man has gone before
A movie from bygone era when ‘Clerks’ or ‘Sarkari Babus’ were still honest and do gooders and thought taking Baksheesh to push paper was so not kosher. Manoj Kumar plays the part of a poor patriotic clerk called (so clichéd) ‘Bharat’ at the Ministry of Defence. The one who always had a hand on his face and has played a ‘Bharat Maa ka beta’ in most of his movies.
The movie starts with ‘Pitaji’, Ashok Kumar writhing in pain because of a heart attack. The family is distraught as they don’t have money to pay ‘Doctor babu ki fees’. Bharat comes to the rescue with the perfect medicine for a heart attack. To hell with modern medicine..if you have a couple of pencil cells and ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ ka song, you will have the patient singing and marching in no time. The doctors just fool us all with CPR and hospital bills. Daddy deario starts singing and marching in no time as the wifey and baccha log look on with pride. The miracle of a few batteries and a patriotic song belting out from the tape recorder, has you confused if the movie is actually a comedy. And then, you get introduced to a whole array of characters :
1) An alcohol guzzling, disabled and face burned in the war elder brother Ram who suspects his wife of earning a fast buck by playing hooky.
2) A younger brother Balaram and sister Tulsi who make a a doorknob look smarter when it comes to acting skills. All these characters seem to be post doctorates in the field of overacting and over reacting.
Bharat’s old flame Sneh has left him to marry Vijay Kapoor who is rich and crooked. Vijay Kapoor wants a fat government defence contract so along with Sneh he plots a plan and makes Bharat majboor into stealing a file from his boss ‘Khan’ (Defence chief) and in return pay him boatloads of cash. Bharat’s family moves into a mansion and repossesses their ‘Girvi padi Jameen’ and all izz well. Meanwhile another buxom babe ‘Pooja’ who is Bharat’s colleague is struck by constipated cupid which propels her to don gymnastics gear to seduce Bharat. She proudly says ‘I have won many cups in gymnastics in school and college’ to which Bharat replies ‘but now I would like to go and have a cup of tea (rather than see your body double do the gymnastics)’.
And then start the twists and turns in the story which make your head reel. The director has taken ‘Is kahani mein emotion hai, drama hai, tragedy hai’ too much to heart’.
- Balaram robs a bank with his girlfriend, (Ms. Torn Jeans and trying too hard to be tapori) ‘Sonu’. He gets arrested and is thrown in jail.
- Sister Tulsi gets raped by a gangster when she goes to him for help to get Balaram released.
- Gymnastics babe is illegitimate and gets molested by her own father and kills him. Just before he dies in the hospital he transfers his property to the daughter.
- Pitaji comes to know of Bharat’s treachery and finally dies of heart attack. The tape recorder and the battery cells failed to revive him this time Tchah.
- Elder brother gets mighty angry when he comes to know the reason of Pitaji’s demise and wants to kill Bharat.
- Balaram the bank robber clad in shiny black leather and holding a machine gun escapes from jail and saves Bharat from getting killed by Ram.
- Old flame ‘Sneh’ comes back to her senses and suddenly realizes that she has been a selfish money hungry shark.
- Ram finds out that Mrs.. hooky hooker is actually selling her blood to provide for his food and alcohol and becomes forlorn for suspecting her.
Fee fi fo fum…I smell the blood of a dead scum…Vijay Kapoor is surrounded by the policia and has no place to go. He shoots his wife instead of Bharat and kills her before he blows himself up. The government is ever so thankful of Bharat for saving the Prime Minister of India.
Here are some of the cheesy dialogues which are repeated over and over again by some of the characters a la Mogambo style throughout the movie– ‘Mogambo Khush Hua’
1) Prem Chopra aka Sadhuram is a peon at the Ministry - ‘Isme mein bhi ek point hai’
2) Satish Shah – Bharat’s immediate boss - ‘Hindi mein bolo’
3) Om Shivpuri aka Jindal - ‘Beauty, Beauty, Beauty- Sweety, Sweety, Sweety’ (I kinda liked it…so poetic..)
Even though the movie has all capable and popular actors…the story and the dialogues can only give them so much leg room for artistic output. It feels, as though the actors were held at gun point and forcibly made to act in the movie. The songs are passable except for ‘Kadam Kadam Badhaeja khushi ke geet gayeja‘ which is wonderful. Manoj Kumar as Bharat grates on your nerves with his typical histrionics and his well fed frame, belies the fact that he is from a poor family. Rather, the entire family looks well fed and healthy when they are supposed to be shown as being hungry for many days. The heroines are attracted to a man wearing a bad wig, torn clothes and zero personality which is completely unbelievable.
This movie is disjointed and fractured, it feels like a collage made by a person who has taken a high dosage of hallucinogens. The director who gave us super hits like ‘Upkaar’ and ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makan’ had lost his magic touch in this movie. You see the movie with the hope of catching the glimmer of art you had expected from such a renowned director. Each scene from this movie is a gem in itself and the transition from one scene to another is like taking a bumpy ride in an auto rickshaw on a potholed street. Even before your innards can recover from one violent jerk, you are already assaulted by another one. The entire movie feels as if the director is flogging a horse which died from laughing too hard as the first scene rolled out on the screen.
Director: Manoj Kumar
Writer: Manoj Kumar
Cast : Manoj Kumar – Bharat
Ashok Kumar- Pitaji
Rajendra Kumar- Khan
Rekha- Sneh (Old Flame)
Anita Raj- Pooja – Gymnastics babe
Mohammad Ali- Ram
Zeba- Mrs. Hooky/ blood seller
Rajiv Goswami- Balaram
Sonu Walia- Ms. Torn Jeans aka Sonu
Prem Chopra- Sadhuram
Satish Shah- Sharma – Bharat’s immediate boss
Sonika Gill- Tulsi
Om Shivpuri- Jindal
Dina Pathak- Bharat’s Mommy
Genre: Clueless or maybe Comedy
Rating: Not to be missed. Must be seen at least once.