A reviewer from Sify called it a \"noble attempt.\" They termed \"Rana and his earnest performance as Kaadan\" and \"AR Ashok Kumar's splendid cinematography\" as the film's main highlights. Haricharan Pudipeddi of Hindustan Times opined that the film was predictable and added: \"its grandeur merely used as a gimmick to project the film on epic scale.\" Pudipeddi appreciated Daggubati's performance, calling it \"one of his best till date.\" M. Sugandh in his The Times of India review wrote: \"Prabu Solomon is more interested in telling us a story. It is only in the climax that the filmmaker starts to sermonise, which feels unnecessary given that we get the movie's 'message' even without the need for any underscoring.\"
On the news of his passing, though, I knew I had to give Rajesh Khanna another chance. He is too important and beloved a superstar for me to keep avoiding his movies just because I find him a little froggy. So I dug into my stack of unwatched movies looking for something with enough fun and delight to overcome the weight of my least favorite star this side of Shah Rukh Khan. I begin my commemoration of the career of Rajesh Khanna with Haathi mere saathi (\"elephants my companions\"). Salim-Javed, Tanuja, and four elephants to the rescue!
Okay, for a Salim-Javed movie, Haathi mere saathi doesn't offer a ton of depth. This is not a movie with the raw intensity of a Deewaar or the culture-defining resonance of a Sholay. With his massive, sparkling bungalow and magical animal-charming powers, Raju is hardly the gritty face of passionate young India. But it's not hard to see why Haathi mere saathi was a huge hit all the same - it is delightful and simply a whole lot of fun. The elephants easily steal the show, and they are charming and adorable - even more adorable than Tanuja, and that is saying something indeed.
Haathi mere saathi's story, such as it is, is all over the place. It veers from episode to episode, some without much coherence or payoff. There is an elephant race, a traiterous family accountant giving false testimony in a crucial court case, a seemingly star-crossed romance, some fist fights (including one where Raju pauses to fix his hair), and even an outrageous circus-stunt sequence in which Raju, desperate for money, sets himself on fire and leaps from a 100-meter platform into a tiny pool of water. Pure entertainment, for sure. Still, there are a few consistent threads - Raju's love for his elephants, his relationship with Tanu, and Kumar's jealous scheming to acquire the elephants for his own carnival. The last 45 minutes of the movie focus on the repercussions of Tanu's entirely rational fear of sharing her home with enormous wild animals who could crush her small child like a bug. In one of Haathi mere saathi's unintentionally hilarious moments, Tanu encounters one of the elephants smooshing a doll, and imagines, in terror, that the doll is her child. It is, I have to admit, a rather funny sequence - but at the same time, I can't say I blame her!
And then, there is Rajesh Khanna, nominally the reason I chose to watch Haathi mere saathi just now. I can't say I like him any more in this movie than in any other - he is as smug, supercilious, and mumbly as ever. But none of that detracts from a movie that is cute and fun and really more about the elephants than anything else. Really - how can a mildly unappealing star get in the way of a movie in which Mehmood Jr. leads a parade of elephants, tigers, and lions into a function hall in an orderly line to partake of a wedding feast
What can I say Haathi mere saathi offers no purchase for biting analysis, no syncretism or social message to subject to withering close critique. What it does offer is simply a silly, sweet, adorable movie full of fun animal tricks and goofy bad guys of varying degrees of haplessness. Oh, and cute, cute, CUTE songs. How can you not love a song in which four helpful elephants tow Tanuja in a disabled red convertible
A friend of mine told me that after she saw this movie as a child, she threw a pachydermed-up version of the classic \"I want a pony!\" fit for weeks on end. She told me that she wouldn't rest until her parents took her to pet the elephants at nearby temple. That image alone was worth the price of the DVD - if only she had home movies! But in their absence, at least we have Haathi mere saathi - lots of silliness, and lots of smiles. 153554b96e