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"Taarzan, The Wonder Car"

WE HAVE done away with screaming ghosts, screeching ghouls and menacing out-of-the-world creatures! Now we have a very suave ghost who uses a car to frighten the bad guys and take revenge!

Usual story? Maybe. Original? Of course not. But then before you dismiss "Taarzan, The Wonder Car" hear this out. It is stylishly made, it has got its moments of true emotions and the film is not something you cannot sit through!

A lot of it has been inspired by the English film, "Christine," a story of a Cadillac, which is the vehicle of revenge and is a horror film. But here the eerie part has been replaced by glee and the scares are only for the horrid villains.

Five unscrupulous men steal the plans of a wonder car by an auto designer (Ajay Devgan in a brief role) and when he threatens to expose them, he is killed and dumped into a lake along with his car, which has been in the family for generations. He leaves behind his mother (Farida Jalal) and his young son, Raj.

Twelve years later, Raj (Vatsal Seth) is a young student, a bit of a clod, working part-time in a garage owned by a crabby Sardar Kartar Singh (Amrish Puri) and trying to get his life going. Into this picture walks Priya (Ayesha Takia) and captures the heart of young Raj. When college bullies give her a hard time, Raj provides his shoulder for comfort. Love builds slowly.

Raj comes across the car, which belonged to his dad in a scrap yard. He knows it is his dad's from the Taarzan figurine still hanging on the front mirror. A flashback tells us how his father put it there and what the car meant to him.

Eager to repossess the family treasure he tries to buy it — which he does after a bit of a struggle and takes it home as a trophy. But it is useless unless he rebuilds it. Which is what he does with the help of Kartar Singh and what emerges is a fancy purple-coated car with the works.

It is also time for the restless spirit of the father to set right the injustice done 12 years ago. And before long the car starts having a life of its own — identifying each of the villains and engineering novel ways of killing them one by one. This part is very reminiscent of "Appu Raja."

The car going behind the villains ironically is the fun part and even though they are murdered, you would find most chortling through it. And poor Raj is completely unaware of the car's activity.

Then you have Gulshan Grover, the investigating police officer, doing a Janakaraj, but on a more serious note, trying to nail the murderer. Directors Abbas-Mustan know they are making an entertainment film — what goes in their favour is that most of it is extremely well shot. The final scenes are cathartic in the classic sense and the ghost is very nicely done even as it walks away into nothing. Not often with all the special effects do you get this sense of pathos as it walks away saying ``no tears!''

New comers Vishal and Ayesha show promise. Playing the villains are Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Shakti Kapoor, Deepak Shirke, Pankaj Dheer and Mukesh Tiwari who snarl without displaying their usual histrionics. The pathetically trite dialogue don't help one bit!

Music by Himesh Reshammiya goes with the mood of the film but some of the routine song and dance numbers mar an otherwise racy film.

CHITRA MAHESH

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