And that's a good thing to know, because Koyla is definitely not for everybody. The violence is surprisingly bloody, and the whole storyline is unsavory, with poor Madhuri in constant danger of rape, and eventually thrown into a brothel. (Like his character in Dance Dance, this is one of Amrish Puri's pervy bad guys).
When I first heard about this movie, and how Amrish (a.k.a. Raja Sahib) raises mute Shankar (a.k.a. Shah Rukh) like a dog, I had two immediate thoughts: that sounds kind of like the Jet Li action picture, Unleashed! (Although for once, Koyla came out much earlier). Also: a mute Shah Rukh? Who still sings? This notion added a new layer of wonderfulness to the life-changing experience that was "Dard-e-Disco," and had me seriously hoping for a moment of "Idiot! Dream sequence! SRK can do anything!"
Oddly, the problem of picturizing songs on a mute character was handled much more realistically than I thought it would (or could) be. And who would have expected that in a film where the hero's muteness is eventually cured by getting his throat slit? (Probably not a recommended medical treatment). Or where he strolls coolly after the bad guy, despite the fact that he's on fire?
The first song is a fantasy by Madhuri, who's seen a photo of Shah Rukh and doesn't know he's mute. The second is an adorable sequence (seen here) in which he appears to sing, but it's all the result of Johnny Lever's ventiloquism. The third is a duet with Madhuri; when it's Shah Rukh's turn, he mimes his response, while the voiceover sings behind him.
Eventually the truth comes out about who killed Shankar's parents and muted him with hot coals, setting him on a quest to not only rescue the heroine, but also gain gruesome revenge on the way. It's kind of like The Crow, actually, only with a pretty girl looking on approvingly.
(As a point of historical fact, we have my first-ever screenshot! FINALLY! Fittingly, a close-up of the Amrish Crazy Eye).
Koyla is not the kind of film that normal people would call "delightful" (Or, well, maybe it is. Normality is not my forte). But that's the word that keeps coming to mind. I guess in the Sandman comics, the character who had exemplified Delight later turned into Delirium, and that's exactly the kind of movie this is!