AatankBollywood’s take on JAWS, a wholly ridiculous action/suspense/romance/musical/monster mash!

AATANK appeared in 1996 (over 20 years after its Steven Spielberg directed inspiration) following a release delay of several years. Beyond that I’ve been unable to uncover much info about the film’s production or distribution. It was evidently shot quickly, with little-to-no budget (and is not to be confused with the GODFATHER-inspired Bollywood extravaganza AATANK HI AATANK).

The hunky young Peter lives in a remote coastal village, which is ruled by a slimy gangster named Alphonso. One day some valuable pearls are discovered off the coast, and Alphonso dispatches several divers to scour the ocean floor. In doing so the divers attract the attention of a mutant shark residing in the area.

The shark’s first victim is Peter’s bride Suzy, who happens to be out swimming–and in the middle of a song!–just as the shark emerges from its undersea lair. It goes on to terrorize several of Alphonso’s henchmen and two young kids in an inflatable raft, one of whom it chomps. Not content with this, the critter later yanks a helicopter out of the sky.

All the while the corrupt Alphonso tightens his hold over the village. Not even a band of revolutionary guerrillas armed with machine guns can take him down. It’s up to Peter to save the day by somehow getting rid of Alphonso—and the shark!

Don’t get your hopes up too high for this film, which is a far cry from JAWS—or even REPTILICUS. You’re probably better off viewing the short clips of AATANK uploaded on YouTube than the entire movie, which in truth is more a gangster actioner (a crummy one) than a proper monster mash. The shark that provides the movie’s raison d’etre doesn’t even turn up until nearly an hour into the film, although its initial appearance is rather inspired: it appears during a passionate underwater musical routine performed by its victim! Yes, this being a Bollywood movie, there are the expected song and dance numbers that periodically break up the action, all eminently forgettable and allowed to drag on far too long.

Bad movie buffs will at least get some enjoyment out of the wholly asinine shark attack sequences. Like countless trash movie auteurs before him, director Prem Lalwani attempts to disguise his limited resources with fast cutting that clumsily incorporates a cheesy model shark with real shark footage in the apparent hope that we won’t be able to distinguish between the two. Quite simply, it doesn’t work!

Vital Statistics

AATANK
Bemisal Films Pvt. Ltd.

Director: Prem H. Lalwani
Producer: Prem H. Lalwani
Screenplay: Sachin Bhowmick
Editing: Das Dhaimade, Rajaram
Cast: Nafisa Ali, Dharmendra, Girish Karnad, Amjad Khan, Kader Khan, Padma Khanna, Ravi Kishan, Hema Malini, Vinod Mehra, Ranjeet