Salman Khan has a few campy films from the 90s under his belt. A while ago, he said that he wishes his Suryavanshi to be remade. That film was patent 90s camp. Another of his films that falls right in that bracket is the fantasy Chandramukhi. Chandramukhi means ‘A face like the moon’.
This Bollywood fantasy film got a lot of hype back then, with the director announcing countrwide auditions for the titular role. According to the reports back then, the director said that the Chandramukhi character is an ‘out of the world beauty’ and therefore, they were looking for a fresh face. Finally, after much ado, Sridevi was announced to be Chandramukhi. This was one of the few times that Bollywood news made it into mainstream news.
Chandramukhi has an interesting, if inspired story. A princess of a magical kingdom is banished from her kingdom by the Queen Mother. The Queen Mother thinks that the princess cannot take care of her kingdom. Therefore, she sends her to Planet Earth on a task – to get a mystical leaf that holds much power. So, there’s your Wonder Woman and Thor reference.
When the princess comes to Earth, she reaches the household of Raja Rai, the grandson of a rich estate owner. The estate owner is about to be tricked by his son’s second wife and her brother. They mistreat Raja to keep him under their dominance. Their eventual plan is to make him go mad with torture. When the princess hears this, she, with her magic, turns him into a grown man overnight. This, of course creates much more problems for Raja and his grandfather. And this is your Big reference.
Now, as Chandramukhi is enamoured by the grown Raja Rai – they even sing romantic songs – she forgets that she has to get the magical leaf, and therefore begins losing her powers. At the same time, the evil relatives also start conniving to get a hold of the property. And of course, there’s another evil magician who wishes to rule over the Princess’ kingdom.
Chandramukhi had it all. A cast that could deliver – Sridevi, Pran, Mohnish Behl, Gulshan Grover, Salman Khan, Kunika Lall and others. By the 90s, Bollywood had access to the CGI that Hollywood used in the 70s and the 80s, so things weren’t as bad. Though the entire film wouldn’t have more than 5 seconds of graphics. It’s difficult to even take screenshots of the CGI sequences in the film.
Salman Khan loved doing this man-boy thing and in the 90s, he was a legit chocolate boy hero with muscles. He did the same trope that he did in films like Suryvanshi and Chand ka Tukda. Point to be noted, Salman did a complete volte force with his hard and nails character in the 1995 film, Veergati. But until then, Salman was a man-boy-chocolate-face-with-muscles in his films. Interestingly, the film credits Salman with the story idea.
Bollywood, for some reason, loved dressing up a couple in actresses in fantasy dresses. Jaya Prada, Rekha, Zeenat Aman, Parveen Babi and Sridevi. Sridevi has some fantastic costumes (for the 90s) in Chandramukhi and foot tapping songs.
Then again, Chandramukhi’s choc-a-bloc with fantasy aspects. A corrupt Godman, not one but two magicians, nicely made sets, etc, etc.
However, Chandramukhi was a disappointment at the box office. People just couldn’t connect with a woman coming down to Earth and trying to save two planets. Also, the screenplay is too long to hold the interest.
You can watch the film here: