Bollywood flashback

In ‘Meri Biwi Ka Jawab Nahin’ a vigilante Sridevi and a climax that wasn’t

Lead actors Akshay Kumar and Sridevi never filmed the final scenes of the heavily delayed project.

In a 2016 episode of celebrity talk show Koffee With Karan, Akshay Kumar revealed that his only movie with Sridevi, SM Iqbal’s Meri Biwi Ka Jawab Nahin (2004), was released without a climax. “She and I hold hands and we say that we will take revenge in the film,” Kumar said. “But we did not shoot the revenge part. A text on the screen reads Un dono ne milke phir badla liya (They both later take their revenge), and the film ends.”

The film, which was released after a 10-year delay, did have a climax, but one that was stitched together as an afterthought, with body doubles replacing the film’s protagonists.

In Meri Biwi Ka Jawaab Nahin, Sridevi plays Durga, a simple-minded and large-hearted woman. In stark contrast to her husband, Ajay (Kumar), a sombre police officer, Durga loves her chunky sunglasses and shimmering sarees. Ajay adores Durga for her quirks, but is also peeved by her excesses and embarrassed by her foolishness.

In a hilarious sequence, Ajay requests Durga to refrain from talking to people at his boss’s party, save for saying “how do you do”. But Durga has other plans. Dressed in a shocking pink saree with a pink corsage on her head, she breaks into a song and dance – and Kumar’s embarrassment soon turns into veneration.

Hamra Saajan Sang, Meri Biwi Ka Jawab Nahi (2004).

Durga is uneducated, speaks only in rhymes and passes her time by spying on people and gossiping with paan seller Gangu. She is in her element as a vigilante who breaks the bones of goons in her spare time and has her own theme music. “Paapiyon ka naash karnewali Ganga kinaarewaali Durga,” she proclaims.

During one such action sequence, Durga is falsely accused of being a prostitute when she enters a brothel to save her abducted neighbour. The rest of the story follows Ajay’s efforts to clear Durga’s name.

That track ends abruptly, ostensibly because it never managed to be filmed as intended. Kumar said in the Koffee with Karan interview that the producer went absconding during the shoot and there was no money to complete the movie. The makers seemed to have used up the existing footage to give the film a semblance of a conclusion. With the generous use of body doubles and sequences that were probably shot in a different context, the film ends with a cheerful, mindless song, in which the lead pair seems as nonplussed as the audience.

Meri Biwi Ka Jawab Nahin (2004).
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