When Khoon Bhari Maang first released, I wasn't even born. But thanks to Sunday movie dates with my family, I did grow up watching, and re-watching, this action thriller multiple times.
However, I am now firmly in the age bracket lovingly referred to as 'the elder millennial'. From this "wisdomous" (of course, I reference FRIENDS) position, I have come to the realization that most of Gen Z have missed out on this gem starring Rekha as an avenging widow and mother. And that's just one of the many reasons why this movie needs to be on your watch list:
1. A classic story of good winning over evil, and an uderdog champion, that still made for a refreshing change. We love!
"Good vs. Evil" was one of the most common storylines of movies from the 1980s, and yet Khoon Bhari Maang managed to impress the audience. Based on the Australian mini-series Return to Eden, the film showed the story of a wealthy widow Aarti Saxena (Rekha), who is manipulated and left to die by her second husband. However, she survives and serves the perfect revenge via her alter ego, Jyoti Verma.
2. It gave us a feminist hero before feminist heroes were a thing.
There is no denying the fact that Aarti, turned Jyoti, was a feminist because she fought for her rights. And she fought in style. For me, Khoon Bhari Maang was one of the first films to show that women can kick ass while wearing high heels! Also, she was fierce and feminist in both of her avatars. As Aarti - who decided to take control and fight back, and as Jyoti - who learned to use fashion and feminity as a tool.
3. Yes it scored high on theatrics, but it still nailed those action sequences. That too with a female lead! Ahead of its time? You bet it was!
When it comes to action thrillers, Bollywood loves its male heroes. But defying the notion of angry young men and Khiladi Kumars, came Rekha as Aarti/Jyoti, fighting crocodiles, chasing villains on horses, and brandishing guns. And even after three decades of its release, the action sequences, CGI effects, and make-up effects, still, hook your interest.
4. Did someone say fashion inspiration?
Jyoti is a model in the film and, let me just say, she wasn't inspired by the fashion of the time. She defined the fashion of the time. Was it over-the-top in certain parts? Of course! But the kind of looks that Rekha served are not what people could carry with similar aplomb.
Don't miss the epic fashion show (that is definitely OTT) in the dance-off!
5. It showcased why animals are the real MVPs.
When Aarti transforms into Jyoti, from her ex-husband to her ex-best friend to even her kids, many fail to recognize her. But not her pet dog or horse. Because animals don't care how their humans look. They just love them, no matter what. And in the end, it's the same animals who come to her rescue, helping her exact revenge on those who hurt her.
6. A plastic surgery more realistic than any served by the many, many K-dramas (the saas-bahu kind, not the Korean kind).
Most Hindi TV dramas used plastic surgery as a trope to explain the change in casting, but Khoon Bhari Maang was much more authentic in its portrayal.
7. Thrills. Actual thrills. As more and more people discover the truth.
As an audience member, you already know that Aarti and Jyoti are the same. But as more and more characters within the film uncover the truth (and die, like they deserve to), it still leaves you surprised. Who said mainstream masala cinema could not be interesting?
8. A good, old-fashioned, despicable villain who made your blood boil.
Let's be honest, a hero is only as good as a villain! Especially if the hero is as badass as Aarti was. Manipulative, egotistical, and sadistic, Sanjay (Kabir Bedi) was a truly despicable villain who deserved every bit of the vicious end he received (I'm against violence, but look at his actions). Also, he served looks like he served evil plans, with a devil-may-care attitude. (That came back to bit him in the ass).
9. A leading hero who is the supporting character in Aarti aka Jyoti's story.
Shatrughan Sinha plays J.D. in the movie, a fashion photographer, and Jyoti's love interest. And while he supports Jyoti, and on discovering the truth, even offers to help, Jyoti still makes her own decisions. Even in the end, when he helps Jyoti, he is merely helping her - not overshadowing her, like most heroes. Because he is the 'leading man' in a heroine's life. And at that time, this was nothing short of revolutionary.
Also, Bollywood, if you could do it then, why can you not do it now?
10. For the crocodile!
If there is one character that deserves a point of its own, it's the man-eating crocodile. From leaving Aarti disfigured to serving Sanjay a taste of his own medicine, the crocodile was a real scene-stealer!
The movie is currently streaming on Zee5. All images are screenshots from Zee5 unless specified otherwise.