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Hailing from quite early in the maestro's career, AAG AUR CHINGAARI ("Fire and Spark") is a solid enough B-action entry from future trash auteur Kanti Shah, hinting at some of the greatness to come but probably not of major interest except for acolytes of the director's later work.
Like a lot of Hindi B-action (or at least Shah's films), the plot is labyrinthine and spans generations, starting with a cop out to catch a couple bandits ("dacoits"), whom he discovers are actually the brothers of his wife. Killing one of the guys in a firefight, the cop meets his end soon after, with the woman's daughter stolen by her remaining brother and taken away to be raised in the mountains as a bandit (his attempt at exacting a particularly dragged-out brand of poetic justice). The mother, inconsolable at the loss of her husband and daughter, collapses in a temple, begging the gods for the return of her child. Moments later, she's blessed with a little boy who wanders in out of the rain, saying his parents were killed in the raid.
14 years pass, and wouldn't you know it, but the kid grows up to be a cop. Meanwhile, the daughter has similarly come of age and begins asking questions of her dad that he's unwilling to answer. Deciding to give up her life of crime, she leaves to go hide in the village, initiating a cycle of revenge and retribution with her father's goons that soon threatens to swallow the mother and the brother she never knew.
I could go on from here, about the bandit king sending a fake daughter to try and kill his sister, or the cop son falling in love with his real adoptive sister while his mother tries to marry him off to the fake one (which is pretty weird ). With 133 minutes to fill, I suppose there's a lot of plot that needs to happen, and while it's not that hard to follow in the moment, it is somewhat exhausting to try and recollect.
Besides, one doesn't come to a Kanti Shah film for the plot, which is part of the reason his later films, which dispense with the concept almost entirely, have such a refreshingly off-the-wall dementia. The beginnings of that are in evidence here, only to be expanded on by the time of GUNDA, which takes lunatic plot invention to its logical end point with a cadre of gangsters speaking in rhyme and given names shared with unspeakable Hindi epithets. By comparison, AAG AUR CHINGAARI is fairly restrained, with the proceedings mostly distinguished by Shah's trademark breakneck pace and constant dialogue screaming. Each scene begins and ends with a pair of characters yelling back and forth at one another, only to cut to another pairing seconds later who repeat the dynamic ad infinitum for the rest of the film. As an ironic result, the movie's occasional scenes of firefights and explosions come as a strange form of relief – they may be loud and filled with action, but at least in the white noise of a machine-gun blaring I can hear myself think.
There's no basis on which to hugely recommend AAG AUR CHINGAARI – it's not quite good enough to qualify as a really entertaining action flick, nor bad enough to reach the trash masterpiece status of GUNDA. It's a decent though unremarkable B-action picture, the Indian equivalent to a mid-'80s Dolph Lundgren programmer, with only faint hints of the weirdly hyperbolic genius its director would manifest after the decline of his budgets and resources. If mid-'80s B-action is your cup of tea, it's probably worth a watch, but unless you share that specific sickness, there's little in particular to recommend it except to Kanti Shah fans.
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