We were so wrong about this one. Of course, it's cheesy, loud and ridiculously naïve. But it captures the very magic of Sridevi in action. The lady rules. She has such a natural instinct for comedy you can forgive her most everything else, including her outrageous costumes and painful attempts at coquetry. While her latest television series is an endurance test for fans, Meri Biwi Ka Jawab Nahin was Sridevi in her prime. And Akshay Kumar on his way up.
Durga is a sweet, simple village belle, who calls her husband sajanwa (this gets old really fast) and keeps house for him as he goes out there and beats up the criminals. And then releases them, like a dutiful police inspector. While her husband's doing his rounds, Durga plays the friendly neighbourhood busybody.
Durga takes her duties as a citizen very seriously. Not one to take lip from anyone, she sets about explaining home truths to the locality's goons. Especially truths regarding first-aid and insurance. After she's pulped a few noses and broken bottles judiciously over everyone's head in a bar brawl, she comes to the attention of Bhairav.
Anupam Kher, in one of his many forgettable roles, is as involved and as wasted as ever. Bhairav is a powerful merchant, who, like any self-respecting bad man, sells illicit liquor and exports kidneys. He also supports ancillary industries, like the bribing of policemen, the killing of intrepid journalists and the laughing of the evil laugh. Once in a while he slaps the sidekick (Johnny Lever, also grossly wasted).
Bhairav is not very happy at the vandalism of his illicit liquor stall, so he orders Durga's untimely demise. This, however, is impossible because she can generally pound the daylights out of anyone. So, he settles for her beyizzati. Thanks to an immensely bribable DCP, Durga is found guilty of prostitution, of all things, and is sent back home presumably on the basis of her impassioned monologue in court.
Many such monologues in the film. About crime, corruption, justice and a woman's-lot-in-a-man's-world. Akshay Kumar is hardly ever on, and when he does appear he's totally eclipsed by his leading lady, who's been chauvinistically titled the female Bachchan. This is no female version of no one, she's in a league by herself. And her histrionics are the only thing that hold this awful, awful plot together.
After Durga has cleared her name and all the evil in the world has been wiped away, the movie wheezes to the finishing line. It's a truly bizarre ride, what with some talented actors, like Neena Gupta and Gulshan Grover, playing some totally arbit roles, and the story veering from hopelessly idealistic to just plain dumb. But if you're feeling nostalgic for a Chaalbaaz kind of flick, then risk being laughed out of town, and watch this one today.