28 January 2005 | rl400
Worth it for one song
This film should have everything going for it - directed by Kamal Amrohi, lavish palace sets, costume design and loosely based on an true story from the era of the Turkish sultanates in India. Razia trained in combat by her Ethiopian slave Yakoot (who suspiciously looks like a blacked up Dharmendra!) proves herself a more worthy heir than her brothers. After the death of her father Razia assumes control of the sultanate to become the first female Muslim leader in South Asia. But Turkish nobility enraged at her relationship with a black man start a power struggle for the throne.
The Turkish sultanate era is nicely brought to life but despite having topics such as gender, politics, history and race on offer the film has a major problem - its coma inducing lack of pace. I can watch a slow film but this takes some effort. Although made in the eighties it tries very hard to recreate the feel of the old epics so there's a lot of silence, overacting and shouting which grates after a while.
However... the whole film is saved by the truly beautiful song 'Ay Dil-e-Nadaan' (My Innocent Heart). With a video to match we see Hema Malini, looking every inch the Turkish princess, wandering through the desert at sunset lonely and frustrated at her inability to express her love for Yakoot.
Worth a watch if you're into slow romantic epics, the history or the girl power angle but you could just read up on real story of Razia Sultan and save yourself three hours. Perhaps ripe for a serious remake?