Kavita Pictures' SHIKARI, directed by N. Chandra, tells the story of a criminal, Om Srivastav (Govinda), who escapes from jail and lands in South Africa, disguised as a businessman, Mahendra Pratap Singh. With the help of a casino owner, Sanya (Shweta Menon), the criminal organises a business meet, wherein he announces his plans to capture the spice market and export spices at lower than the existing rates.
Om throws an open challenge to a rich tycoon and 'spice king', Virendra Singh Rawal (Nirmal Pandey), to back out of the business. Things sour between the two and Rawal decides to warn Om, on the pretext of taking him for a hunt. However, Om murders him brutally and poses as a close friend of Rawal in front of his wife Suman (Tabu) and sister Rajeshwari (Karisma Kapoor).
Rajeshwari vows to find her brother's killer and tries to find every possible evidence against him in order to identify him. However, she is unable to track any businessman by the name of Mahendra Pratap Singh. Meanwhile, Om gets close to Rajeshwari, as a family friend, and the two fall in love with each other.
Sanya, who is aware of Om's identity, strikes a deal with Rajeshwari to reveal the name of her brother's murderer at a price, but before she can do so, even she is murdered by Om. In the meantime, Rajeshwari decides to get married to Om, but Suman, her sister-in-law, refuses to give her approval for the marriage.
Suman confesses to dai maa (Sushma Seth) that she was once in love with Om, who lived in a small village, before she was forced to marry Rawal. Before Rajeshwari learns of the story, she flees her home and decides to meet Om to find out the reasons. However, she is in for a rude shock when Om admits that he has always been in love with Suman, her sister-in-law, which is also one of the reasons he had murdered her brother.
Om chases Rajeshwari, who falls in a well, and assumes that she is dead. But Rajeshwari manages to escape and confronts him when he is about to leave for India, with Suman. However, Suman refuses to accept him when she learns that he is a murderer.
The storyline starts off on an interesting note, when the criminal lands in South Africa in the guise of a businessman and decides to make a business empire in spice exports. The criminal also gives an impression of being an intelligent and scheming planner, who executes his crimes deftly.
The plot grows thicker, when the criminal, after murdering the 'spice king', poses as a family friend and captures the heart of his sister. However, the story falls flat on its face when one learns that the criminal is the previous lover of the 'spice king's wife, especially since she does not react all this time, though the criminal poses as a well-wisher of the family and moves around with her husband's sister.
Besides, the flashback comes in the pre-climax, setting the mood for an altogether different story. Also, the second flashback, which is shown during the climax and explains why Om is on a revenge spree, is incomplete, leaving two pertinent questions unanswered:
How did Suman separate from Om and get married to Rawal?
How did Om become a criminal?
The flashback at the climax point is also unduly stretched and highly exaggerated, when Om's family is mercilessly tortured at the behest of Rawal. The comedy track (Johny Lever and Razzak Khan), which keeps coming at intervals, is entertaining. The climax is novel and takes one by surprise, though one doubts how far the audiences will accept it.
The story is also interspersed with too many songs. At least one of the songs in the first half (picturised on Mayuri Kango, in a guest appearance) is unwarranted and has nothing to do with the storyline, though it is musically appealing. The other two songs that have considerable appeal are 'Bahut Khubsoorat Ghazal Likh Raha Hoon' and 'Shikari Ne Shikaar Kiya'.
Cinematography (W.B. Rao) is good in parts, but it is inconsistent otherwise. Editing (Prashant Khedekar and Vinod Nayak) is loose, especially in the second half, when the story starts stretching indefinitely. Action (Amin Gani) is exciting, though it has not been played upon the way it should have. The background music does not help in creating an impact.
Directorially, N. Chandra has succeeded in building up the story in the first half, but he is handicapped by a storyline that gets distorted in the second half, thereby reducing the impact. However, some of the scenes in the film deserve a special mention:
Govinda murdering Kiran Kumar in the lift and accidentally reviving him, when he starts thumping on his chest, pretending that he is bereaved by his death;
The shot when Karisma begs for her life and asks Govinda to save her.
Performance-wise, Govinda is convincing in a negative role. The transition to a negative role from the usual comedy roles appears to be good enough. Fortunately for him, director N. Chandra has equipped the film with the usual song and dance fare, besides going to great lengths in the second half to justify his becoming a criminal.
Karisma Kapoor is excellent as the daredevil sister, who is on the search for her brother's murderer. Tabu gets limited scope to perform. Nirmal Pandey is his usual self. Shweta Menon exudes glamour. Johny Lever and Razzak Khan entertain. Kiran Kumar has nothing much to do.
On the whole, SHIKARI has a dull second half and coupled with the fact that the film hasn't opened to an encouraging esponse, will go against the film. This 'shikari' will not conquer the box-office!