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Salman makes his debut as khaki clad cop
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Before anyone groans "Not again!" at the thought of another cop film this week, let's quickly get the facts straight -- "Garv" is a cop film with a difference because it has Salman Khan as the khaki clad law enforcer.
This is a privilege he has never had before. Even in his home production "Auzaar", it was Sanjay Kapoor who got the cop's role while Salman stared sullenly from the other side of the fence.
While all the other cop-players like Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar recently returned to the uniform in "Khakee", "Dev", "Aan" etc, Salman gets into the uniform for the first time to play an upright and idealistic law enforcer.
Can he keep a straight face? More importantly, can the audience? Will the audience accept Bollywood's resident enfant terrible as a straitlaced principled ideologue?
"Why not?" shoots back Hansal Mehta who has made "Chal", one of the finest films in the genre with K.K. Menon playing an undercover policeman.
"The audience doesn't go into the theatre with the baggage of the actor's real-life image. It goes to see the star playing anything from a gangster to a gang-buster and judges the performance after getting inside the theatre."
But sceptics feel Salman's overpowering image as an iconoclast could come in the way of audiences accepting him as a guy from within the establishment.
After bottling crime can Salman battle it? That's the question. Going by the advance booking all over the country, Salman has another winner on his hands. He has amassed a massive following, particularly among teenagers who see him as a rebellious icon.
Salman's two releases last year "Baghban" and "Tere Naam" were huge successes. Though he had nothing substantial to do in the former, his role as Amitabh Bachchan's ideal foster-son won him favourable reviews.
But it was the role of the rebellious campus goon in "Tere Naam", which brought this Khan a heap of best-actor nominations last year.
"Garv" is also an acid test for first-time director Puneet Issar. A small-time actor, Issar's main claim to fame was being locked in a historic combat with Amitabh Bachchan in 1983 on the sets of "Coolie" when the superstar almost lost his life.
However, Issar has directed TV serials. He says it took him so long to direct a feature film because he wanted to be sure of his capabilities. Actually, it seems more like the film industry wanted to be sure whether Issar could deliver the goods.
Can he? Apart from Salman Khan, "Garv" doesn't have much to attract the audience. Recent Salman starrers like "Tumko Na Bhool Payenge", "Hello Brother" and "Auzaar" prove that he isn't enough to ensure a success.
Will "Garv" be the fourth success of 2004 after "Murder", "Main Hoon Na" and "Hum Tum"?