Yes, Ghayal was a masterpiece, and Sunny Deol as a wounded, wronged victim
of the "system" proved his point brilliantly. But to keep giving him similar
roles and to expect the same magic is quite absurd, and typical Bollywoodish
behavior. Sunny Deol probably keeps playing these roles as he is no stranger
to the situation - he is a good actor caught up in a bad system.
Arjun Pandit has one of those highly improbable stories that only Bollywood
can dream of, but powerful performances and steady direction make it tolerable
and even watchable at times. Mumbai is abuzz with news about a gangster called
Pandit, whose chamchas seem to be abnormally worried about the well-being of
Nisha Chopra (Juhi Chawla), a starlet/dancer. When they finally take Nisha to
meet Pandit, he turns out to be Arjun Dikshit (Sunny Deol).
You anticipate a long flashback, but none makes its appearance. Instead, Pandit
scares Nisha, celebrates her birthday, eats enough chocolate cake to make anyone
sick, and leaves you wondering where the script is going.
You soon find out. Nisha decides to marry her childhood friend, Siddharth, and
this leaves us with a very angry Pandit. He abducts her (in the process killing
a few policemen and burning a few cars) and threatens to marry her soon. The
police, meanwhile, get their hands on Shiva, Pandit's friend and fellow-gang
member, who finally offer you your flashback.
Cut to Haridwar. Arjun Dikshit is a devout and bhola-bhala professor of yoga,
living with his uncle's family. The point to be noted here is that the uncle
has a young daughter of marriageable age. Remember that and the story will be
easy to follow.
You learn that Arjun Dikshit is the kind that mind their own business, and turns
the other way when he sees "bad things" happen. Nisha comes to Haridwar as a
researcher on the scriptures, and is assigned to Dikshit for reference. The
two fall in love (during sessions of reading through the Kamasutra), though
at this point you wonder what the vibrant and bubbly Nisha sees in the dull
and lifeless Arjun.
When Sanjay, a local gangster, threatens to abduct Nisha, she provokes Arjun
into killing him. With Arjun in jail, the true story shines through. It turns
out that Nisha is the sister of Sangeeta, a student of Arjun, who, after being
raped by Sanjay, commits suicide because Arjun who witnesses the crime refuses
to testify against Sanjay. Why? Well, Sanjay threatens to do the same to Arjun's
uncle's daughter (told you to keep her in mind, didn't I?), and so Arjun shuts
With her sister's rapist dead, and the man who could have saved her life in
jail, Nisha decides her mission is accomplished and returns to Mumbai to resume
life. But Arjun gets a pardon, and goes after her. What the director fails to
convey here is the reason for Arjun's obsessive love for Nisha. Shouldn't he
be angry with her for cheating him, or at least realize that the game is over?
But he plays on, getting caught up in gang wars and violence, which is just
not his style (I mean Arjun's, not Sunny Deol's). The rest of the movie deals
with his obsession for Nisha, her refusal to accept him, a lot of violence and
a few forgettable songs in between. Surprisingly, the movie ends rather happily
enough, which is usually not the case with most films of this genre.
The performances, as I said, are powerful, with Juhi Chawla being her bubbliest
self in the first half and Deol doing what he does best. But the fact remains
that Arjun Pandit lacks novelty and style, and gets nowhere near Ghayal in content,
thereby becoming one of those movies you wouldn't benefit much by watching.