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Saugandh is an unknown film of the early 1990s, and the only reason some people are aware of it today is the fact that it is actually the debut movie of Akshay Kumar. Saugandh is not a very well made film but I liked it as a kid and I still enjoy watching it with my family. Technically the film is very poor, but I think the film's main story is interesting. Everything is of course within the context of a Hindi fairy tale, so one should know that Saugandh is not to be taken seriously. The film starts by presenting the character of Chaudhary Saurang, a cruel and influential landowner. Saurang's sister Chand falls in love with Shiva, a young man who belongs to one poor and extended family of the town. When Saurang learns about their relationship, he murders Shiva's entire family and his own sister. The only one who survives during this incident is Shiva's pregnant sister Ganga. Ganga decisively takes an oath to avenge Saurang's merciless acts, not by killing him, but by repeating the love story between Shiva and Chand again, this time between her son, whom she names Shiva after her brother, and Saurang's to-be-born daughter. Ganga starts visiting Saurang on a frequent basis, cynically keeping him informed about what she is planning to do. Saurang is unexcited by Ganga's determination and attempts to challenge him, and he finds them laughable. He even names his daughter after his sister Chand to prove his indifference. And that is how the movie goes on, with the "Saurang Vs. Ganga" track carrying the narrative forward. Ganga makes her best efforts to turn her son into a courageous and strong young man, and she succeeds. At the same time, Saurang's daughter Chand is brought up as a boy, enjoying horse riding and having a particularly tough attitude, similar to her father's.
As said, the story is more of a fairy tale, it's unrealistic, and yet within the genre of Hindi masala flicks it was interesting and enjoyable. Like every Hindi film of its time and sort, the movie often resorts to sentimentality and is often overdone, but it also has its nice moments of comedy, romance and action. Anand-Milind's music is very melodious, with "Laila Ko Bhool Jayenge" being the best. The scenes between Ganga and Saurang were according to me amazing, each such sequence having great dialogues and presenting a new side of the story. The movie belongs to Raakhee, and she is superb as the decisive Ganga. This is a role Raakhee would play many times during this decade, but according to me it's better than most of them. She gets the film's best lines and delivers them very well, portraying her character's determination and inner pain efficiently. Mukesh Khanna is excellent as the proud, dignified and merciless Saurang. Shanti Priya is okay. Her character's sudden transformation is unconvincing. She overdoes her tomboy act in the beginning and in later portions she is pretty much the ordinary Hindi film heroine. Now to the reason many people actually would watch this movie, Akshay Kumar made his first appearance on the big screen with this movie and he did it with total aplomb. He was good-looking, energetic and confident, and his action scenes were done exceedingly well, even if they were typical. The film's ending is fantastic and I loved the way the saga of revenge was completed. Saugandh is not a great film, not even a particularly good film, but it is fairly entertaining and worth watching for more than one reason. I like it since childhood, so I cannot really recommend it, but Akshay Kumar fans would certainly like to see his first movie ever.
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