AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY (1977)

Though certain sections of the media and some self proclaimed elite viewers look down on the so called ” masala-entertainers”  it is a fact that the biggest hits produced in India till date are the ” masala-movies”.

For the uninitiated (or the newer generation) a “masala-entertainer”  is a movie which is fully intended for the masses, does not pretend to be anything more then entertainment, where one should not look for logic or pathbreaking films but where the audience goes into a cinemahall to forget about their day to day worries and is transported to a make believe world where poetic justice is served in three hours and where one can enjoy pure entertainment. These films contain drama, comedy, the song and dance routine, beautiful locations, an engaging story, good songs all in the right dose (if done well).

In the hindi film industry (I do not like the term  “Bollywood”) there have been many producers and directors who have (had) specialized in ” masala -movies”  like Prakash Mehra, Ramesh Sippy, Shakti Samantha, Bappi Sohnie, Brij Sadanah, Rakesh Roshan and of course David Dhawan. Some more successful then the other, some with more hits to their credit then the other. But the ultimate master of the “masala-movies”, the emperor of the entire “masala-genre”  was none other then the one and only undisputed king on the genre MANMOHAN DESAI.

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Manmohan Desai (who’s father Kikubhai Desai was a smalltime producer / director in the 30’s and ’40s)  started his career as a writer with the film “Tulsidas” (1954) and “Janam Janam Ke Phere”  (1957). He made his debut as a director with the latter but the film bombed. His second feature as a director was the 1960 Raj Kapoor – Nutan movie “Chhalia” which was a hit. Manmohan Desai had arrived.

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Like I mentioned earlier Manmohan Desai was the emperor of the “masala-genre” .  To be quite honest he even created a sub-genre : the lost and found formula. This were stories were parents and children or just brothers and sisters would get separated in the beginning of the movie and would reunite at the end to take revenge on the villains who had wronged them. Though this concept was not found by Manmohan Desai (Yash Chopra’s film” WAQT” is credited as the first multi starrer with this storyline) ge his perfect this concept and totally made it his own.

In the 70’s and 80’s 7 out of every 10 films made in India had this storyline as the main story of the movie. But not all movies succeeded. And even the ones that did succeed did not have the success as a Manmohan Desai film.

Manmohan Desai had his fingers on the pulse of the audience. He knew what the audience wanted and catered to them. He could also make the audience lap up the most ridiculous scenes (more on that later on in the MANMOHAN DESAI NOTES).

The career and films of Manmohan Desai can be separated into two phases or categories if you want.

First, the Non Amitabh Bachchan films.

 

 

 

Most of the films from this period were hits but not as big a hit as the second category. “Dharam-Veer”  and “Chacha Bhatiya”  (co-incidently both having Dharmendra in one of the leading roles) were blockbusters. But my personal favourite Manmohan Desai movie from this first category is the 1973 Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Shatrughan Sinha movie “Aa Gale Lag Jaa”  which had a killer soundtrack by R.D. Burman and songs sung by Kishore Kumar (a very rare thing in Manmohan Desai movie).

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The second phase or category is the one for which Manmohan Desai is best remembered thill today. The phase that gave the hindi film industry some of it’s biggest blockbusters:

THE AMITABH BACHCHAN movies:

 

 

 

There has hardly been in actor-director duo or combination who worked so well with each other as Amitabh Bachchan and Manmohan Desai. The succesratio this duo had with their blockbusters can’t be challenged by anyone -worldwide. Though Amitabh Bachchan made successful movies with the likes of Prakash Mehra and Ramesh Sippy as well his best was reserved for Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Manmohan Desai. And the Manmohan Desai universe was always much happier and jolly then the Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies (which were classics themselves).

Another important aspect of Manmohan Desai movies was “national integration” . All religions co-existed happily together and religion was important. Be it John Jhonny Janardhan (Amitabh Bachchan) and the rings with the cross, the Ohm sign and Allah on it that save the heroes (Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha and Pran)  lives in “NASEEB” or the 4 “gundas” from 4 different religions (Shammi Kapoor, Uttam Kumar, Parikshat Sahni and Prem Nath) who change for the better thanks to master DinaNath (Amitabh Bachchan) in ” DESH PREMEE”.

The best of Manmohan Desai -also in this regard (which would do more for national integration then a 100 documentaries produced by the government or Doordarshan) – would release in 1977… a film that would change the path for Manmohan Desai and Amitabh Bachchan…

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Amar Akbar Anthony has many sub plots (another strong point of Manmohan Desai movies – the movies had many subplots running simultaneously and by the end of the movie all would be tied up and presented to the audience with a nice ribbon around it) but the main plot is :

A father (Pran) and mother (the world’s worst mom ever- Nirupa Roy- who lost all her children in almost every movie in the 70’s and 80’s) have 3 sons. Due to circumstances they all get seprated. The dad becomes an underworld don, the mom becomes blind as a bonus in this movie, the eldest son Amar (Vinod Khanna) is brought up by a hindi police inspector, the youngest is brought up by a muslim elderly and becomes a famous qawwali singer -Akbar Ilhabadi (Rishi Kapoor) and the middle son is brought up by a catholic priest (Nazir Hussain) and is known as Anthony Gonzalvez (Amitabh Bachchan in topform) a local goon with a heart of gold.

 

Vinod Khanna is seen in a very unthankful role. His character inspector Amar is very serious and has no humor at all. I am glad that his sreentime is limited as his character is the least fun to watch on screen. I think he might have taken up the role only because he could beat up his biggest rival of that era (Amitabh Bachchan) which was rare in a movie of that era.

Rishi Kapoor as Akbar Ilhabadi has all songs (except for one) fully or partially picturized in him. But don’t be fooled. We are talking about Rishi Kapoor here so he is not there just for the songs. Rishi is terrific as Akbar Ilhabadi and his chemistry with Amitabh Bachchan is superb. They had only done a “Kabhi Kabhie”  together before this movie in which there was no room for the Amitabh Bachchan-Rishi Kapoor magic. But Manmohan Desai gave us three films with that magic and this one -together with Naseeb-  is the best there is.

Rishi Kapoor is great in his role and the qawali’s and other songs picturized on him (sung by Mohd. Rafi) are fantastic. But as we all know Rishi Kapoor knows how to act and to act during songs. Besides his track with Amitabh Bachchan his track with Neetu Singh and Mukhri (who plays her dad) will bring the house down even today.

Now to the middle brother, the actual star of the movie -Anthony Gonzalvez (Amitabh Bachchan). Amitabh has the biggest role in the movie and it seems like the movie is centered around him. But it’s not that Amitabh had other’s role cut or anything. Vinod Khanna’s track is mostly with Bachchan. Rishi Kapoor’s track is with Amitabh Bachchan and with the mom Nirupa Roy so it’s simple that Rishi’s role is bigger then Vinod Khanna’s. But Amitabh has a track with Vinod Khanna, a track with Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh and Mukhri, a track with Pran (the dad), a track with Nirupa Roy (the mom) AND his romantic track (with Parveen Babi) so it is only but logical that his role is the biggest in the movie. It might not have been scripted that way initially but something happened during the making of Amar Akbar Anthony that would change destinies…

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In those days making a film took years to finish. To make a movie on the Manmohan Desai scale took at least 3 years to complete. Manmohan Desai was already a well known producer / director. In the mid 70’s he was busy with shooting 4 films simultaneously : Dharam-Veer, Chacha Bhatiya, Parvarish and Amar Akbar Anthony (the last two with Bachchan in one of the leading roles). Now because Manmohan was directing 4 films simultaneously it was difficult being on every set to do all the shootings himself.

A scene had to be canned for Amar Akbar Anthony which would feature just one actor in it – Amitabh Bachchan. Because all Manmohan Desai movies were multi starrers it was difficult to get combined dates of actors because in those days actors would give out “shifts”  to filmmakers. So Manmohan Desai opted to direct another scene for one of the other movies which had a combination of stars in it. For the scene to be shot for Amar Akbar Anthony it was just Amitabh Bachchan and the cameramen in the studio.

The situation was : Amitabh Bachchan had tried to woo Parveen Babi during an Easter festival with a song and had been beaten up (again!) by her bodyguard because he was drunk. Now in this scene he was in front of a mirror trying to talk to himself.  Amitabh improvised and the scene was shot. Legend has it that when Manmohan Desai saw the rushes of that scene he cried and vowed to never again make a movie without Amitabh Bachchan and that was the birth of a deadly combination that nobody has ever been able to replicate!

This deadly duo would go on to rise to the challenge and give one blockbuster after the other and experiencing one of the worst accidents ever to have happened on the sets of any hindi movie ever… but I won’t get into that in this post. Just a screenshot of that fateful blow…

You might think that in a movie called Amar Akbar Anthony with 3 heroes and many subplots the heroines of the movie might have nothing to do… Leave it to Manmohan Desai to prove you wrong.

Shabana Azmi as the love interest of Vinod Khanna gets the smallest role of the heroines. Which is perfectly understandable as she has only one track -that with Vinod Khanna. And since he has the smallest role of the 3 heroes it is only but logical that she has the smallest role as well. It is fun though to see Shabana in an out and out commercial role (she was also in Manmohan Desai’s “Parvarish”  with Bachchan again opposite Vinod Khanna) when you keep in mind her tirade against “masala-movies”  later in her career. But she tried to be in those movies herself.

Neetu Singh (Kapoor) has a far bigger role in the movie as the love interest of Rishi Kapoor who is a doctor by profession. She is good in her role and fun to watch as she does justice to her character.

Parveen Babi as the love interest of Amitabh Bachchan has the biggest role of the heroines. First of all she has a track as Anthony’s love interest. But she also has her own track as the daughter of the villain (Jeevan) who is brought up by her ” uncle” (Pran) who has a bodyguard (Yusuf Khan -NOT DILIP KUMAR).  She does justice to her role as well and this was Parveen at her best. Though Parveen was a superb team with Amitabh she would star in 2 more Manmohan Desai-Amitabh Bachchan movies in which she would not be paired opposite Amitabh. In “SUHAAG”  she would be paired opposite Shashi Kapoor (and Amitabh with Rekha) and in “DESH PREMEE” Amitabh would have a double role no less where he would be paired with Sharmila Tagore (making a comeback) and Hema Malini. Parveen Babi would be the daughter of the elder Bachchan and the sister of the younger Bachchan. Her hero would be the one time semi-successful actor Navin Nischal (who by the way was the hero in the film “PARWAANA”  in which Amitabh Bachchan would be the cold blooded villain much before Shah Rukh Khan’s Baazigar and Anjaam act).

 

 

 

The main villain in the movie was Robert Seth portrayed by character actor Jeevan (father of Kiran Kumar – “Khuda Gawah”, ” Khudgarz”, ” Baaghi”). Jeevan who had been famous for playing Naratmuni in many films was an actor who could be seen in many Manmohan Desai films and with Amar Akbar Anthony he made a great comeback as a villain.

Manmohan Desai loved to work with his set of actors. You could ususally see the same actors in most of his movies with an addition here and there. And since his movies were multi starrers and had many storylines there was a need for multiple villains. Therefor it is strange that Amar Akbar Anthony is the only Manmohan Desai movie in which the famous 70’s and 80’s villain Ranjeet makes an appearance. His role is not that big. He is the stepbrother of Shabana Azmi, henchmen of Jeevan and the son of Nadira.

Which brings me to Nadira who makes a guest appearance in this movie as the eveil stepmother from hell of Shabana Azmi and mom to Ranjeet’s character. Though her screen time is limited she makes an impression. But for an actress of the caliber of Nadira nothing less can be expected.

 

 

 

There are many more characters in the movie. If I would go into all the character this post would become a novella. But 3 characters have to be mentioned : Yusuf Khan as Parveen Babi’s bodyguard Zubesco. This is the movie which made people recognize and remember him. As it happened with MacMohan in ” SHOLAY” and with Manek Irani in Manmohan Desai’s other Amitabh Bachchan-Rishi Kapoor classic ” NASEEB”  there is no escaping them in this movie and he would always be remembered for this movie. Though it might be worth knowing that his association with Amitabh Bachchan goes as far back as Amitabh’s first solo lead hitfilm ” BOMBAY TO GOA” in which he had an even bigger role then in Amar Akbar Anthony.

Nazir Hussain is no stranger to the movie buff. The man has played father to everyone… He even played father to Dev Anand (Jewel Thief and many more) and Sunil Dutt -father of Sanjay Dutt – (Heera). Here he plays foster father to Amitabh Bachchan. Only called “father”  in the film his role is an important one as hei character is a catalyst to move the story further at a certain point…

 

 

 

The last character I just have to mention is Tayab Ali seth played adorably by character actor Mukhri. As the father of Salma (Neetu Singh) who is against her relationship with Akbar (Rishi Kapoor) Mukhri almost steals the thunder from Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan in their scenes with them. A veteran of almost 250 films spanning more then 6 decades he shows his comic timing brilliantly in this film that would go on to him seeing more roles in films with Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor most notably “COOLIE” and ” SHARAABI”  (the latter one featuring him as Nathulal-ji with the famous “moochhe”. Who can forget this classic Mohd. Rafi song picturized on Rishi Kapoor and Mukri in this movie…!? It was recreated for a movie and picturized on Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha but that only is proof that nothing beats the original and nobody can beat Rishi Kapoor at his own game when the man is in his element…

Now for the music of Amar Akbar Anthony. Except for a very rare “Aa Gale Lag Jaa”  which had music by R.D. Burman (and which I think is the best Manmohan Desai film soundtrack ever) his movies had music by the music composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

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Mohd. Rafi had been Manmohan Desai’s favourite playback singer from day 1. Though Mukesh did sing in Chhalia that was no wonder since the hero was Raj Kapoor. And Raj Kapoor = Mukesh. But from Budtameez and Bluffmaster onwards it was Mohd. Rafi’s show all the way. Except for the R.D. Burman soundtrack for which Kishore Kumar sang some of the best songs ever in a Manmohan Desai movie. Even in the late 70’s and 80’s when Kishore Kumar was the number 1 singer (as far as hits and output was concerned) Manmohan Desai chose to have Mohd. Rafi sing for the heroes in his movies. Mohd. Rafi even was the voice of Amitabh Bachchan in Manmohan Desai movies. Probably the only Manmohan Desai movie with Amitabh in the lead which had Kishore Kumar as the voive of Amitabh Bachchan was Amar Akbar Anthony and it was this movie that gave the Amitabh Bachchan – Manmohan Desai their biggest hitsong (sung by Kishore Kumar).

Even though Kishore Kumar was the voice for Amitabh Bachchan in the movie the most number of songs in this movie were sung by Mohd. Rafi as the voice of Rishi Kapoor (barring one song in which Shailendra Singh sang the mandatory Rishi Kapoor song after ” BOBBY”) and Mukesh as the voice of Vinod Khanna.

As far as the female singer… there was no question about that. There is only one song picturized on the heroines and Lata Mangeshkar sang for all 3 heroines!

 

 

 

 

Though Kishore Kumar and Mohd. Rafi have sung duets, Mohd. Rafi and Mukesh have sung duets and Mukesh and Kishore Kumar have sung duets this film will go down history as the only film which had a song sung by the three most well known and successful hindi film playback singers Kishore Kumar, Mohd. Rafi and Mukesh. To make it even more special the nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar joined in for fun…

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article when you watch a “masala-entertainer” you don’t look for logic… because you won’t find it. And in the Manmohan Desai universe the most unprobable, unlikely and impossible things happen. But they are presented with such conviction that you don’t realize that it is not possible. You lap it up. It is only after the film when you discuss the movie that you think…”Hey what happened here?”

Here are AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY’S MANMOHAN DESAI NOTES:

  • The blind mom has an accident and is brought to the hospital where Salma (Neetu Singh) is the doctor (AND WHAT A DOCTOR -see note 2 for that). As luck would have it all her 3 songs are there. She is in need for a blood transfusion and all three sons donate blood to her. Here it comes: The blood of all 3 sons goes into a bottle simultaneously which at the same time is administered to Nirupa Roy (the mom)
  • Neetu Singh is a doctor like mentioned before. Just before the climax Parveen Babi faints. Neetu Singh listens to her pulse and congratulates Parveen’s dad with the fact that she is pregnant.
  • On the day of his wedding to Parveen Babi   *****SPOILER ALERT***** finds the murdered body of “father”. Just before he realizes that “father” is no more he brags about his new costume which is specially made for his wedding. It is a white suit. He realizes “father” is dad, finds a locket in the victim’s hand which he recognizes, rushes to the owner of the locket and accuses him… wearing a black costume  *****END SPOILER ALERT*****
  • The villains are aware of the characters of Amar Akbar and Anthony. Still the 3 brothers disguise themselves and enter the villain’s den trying to rescue the girls and avenge whatever happened. While in disguise (because they do not want to get recognized) they sing this for the villains:

Watch this movie for nostalgia purposes and for the newer generation see what we grew up on… For the newer generation see why Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor are considered the best of the best ever. Watch this movie just to see HOW a ” masala-movie” should be made and how it CAN work!

AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY (1977)

produced and directed by Manmohan Desai

cast : Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Pran, Neetu Singh Kapoor, Parveen Babi, Vinod Khanna, Nirupa Roy, Shabana Azmi, Jeevan, Jeevan, Ranjeet, Mukri, Nadira, Yusuf Khan, Kamal Kapoor and Nasir Hussain

music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal

playback by Kishore Kumar, Mohd. Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Mahendra Kapoor, Shailendra Singh and Amitabh Bachchan

If you like classics and golden oldies (films and songs) right up to those classics from the 90’s don’t forget to tune in to SunriseFM (The Netherlands) every Sunday evening for my radioshow “YAADEIN- A Walk Through Memory Lane”. The show is broadcast at 10PM (Netherlands), 5PM (Surinam), 9PM (U.K) and Monday 1.30AM (IST). The show can be heard through the cable (only in The Netherlands), 100.1FM (only in Surinam) and worldwide with the SunriseFM app, tunein or online : http://www.sunrisefm.nl

Don’t forget to visit our Facebook group GEET SANGEET :  https://www.facebook.com/groups/365183506962164/

Feel free to leave all feedback (or questions) in the comments section.

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KOI AAP SA (2005)

Like most readers might know by now I am not that a big fan of movies which released after the year 2000. Of course there are exceptions like Aamir Khan’s ” DANGAL” , Salman Khan’s  ” BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN” or Rajkumar Hirani movies (who is right up there for me with my 2 other all time favourites – Manmohan Desai and Hrishikesh Mukherjee).

 

Then I have always been a fan of certain actors and actresses who I have adored and liked who have not seen the succes they deserved according to me. In the 70’s for instance I really liked actresses like Kaajal Kiran (Hum Kisise Kum Nahin), Vidya Sinha  (Swayamvar) and Zeherra (Dharmatma).

 

1998 saw the debut of another such actress in the Salman Khan movie ” BANDHAN” . She would went on to appear in the song ” Ishq Bina Kya Jeena Yaara”  in the Anil Kapoor- Aishwariya Bachchan movie  “TAAL” for which Govinda refused the Anil Kapoor role.

It would not before the year 2003 when Natassha would make her debut as a lead actress in the hindi film industry. In an industry where anyone without even an ounce of acting talent can become a craze if they are willing to shed some clothes or have a good marketing team it is a shame that an actress of the caliber of Natassha who was a beautiful lady (and still is -although I prefer het in movies like Koi Aap Sa then  her extra slim avatar now in Naagin season 3) and someone who could actually emote and act.

It is even stranger that most roles she got were in the movies produces by the banner of Jeetendra – Balaji Pictures run perfectly by his daughter Ektaa Kapoor.

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Natassha as she was called during that time appeared in some movies -some good and some bad. But just like Rishi Kapoor – even when the movies were bad Natassha was good in them : Kuch Toh Hai (2003), Yeh Dil  (2003), Krishna Cottage (2004), Silsillay  (2005), Dus Kahaniyan (2007), Ek Se Bute Do (2009), Benny and Babloo (2010), Ragini MMS 2 (2014), Hero (2015) and quite a few hit south movies as well.

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Natashha changed her name back to her original name – Anita Hassanandani Reddy and resumed working on tv where she became super successful and can been seen in many tv shows. SHE is the reason I tune in to ” NAAGIN”  season 3 every week  (the only hindi tv show I watch).

But Anita (as I will call her from now on) her best movie -according to me-  was a movie that released in 2005. A love story that remains in my all time top 25 love stories list.

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When this film released I had only 2 reasons to watch this movie: Anita (or Natassha as she is credited in the movie)  and the killer soundtrack by Himesh Reshammiya.

Sometimes it happens that an actor whom you are not that a big fan of makes a movie which you really love and that is a sign of a very well made movie. This happened to me with Anil Kapoor in “LAMHE”  (later on I did became a fan of Anil Kapoor) and Vinod Khanna in ” KUDRAT” (where for me he stole the thunder from Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini in double roles and from Raajkumar and Priya Rajvansh).

I have never been a fan of Aftab Shivdesani (my favourite Aftab movie still is ” Mr. India”). But in this movie he actually is good. Himanshu Mallick (best known for his role in the first ” TUM BIN”)  was the second hero of the movie but he is nothing to write home about. And the second leading lady of the movie was Dipannita Sharma (best known for her role in  “16 DECEMBER”) who did a commendable job in the movie.

 

But for me the main attraction of this movie – and the reason to watch were Anita and the songs.

Talking about the music of the film. Himesh Reshammiya was the music director of the movie. And for this movie he composed some really good songs and thank God he did not sing any songs for this movie. He lest the singing to some of the best singers of the era: Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Sonu Nigam and Shaan.

This was the era when Himesh Reshammiya songs still had some melody in them and some  ” Indianess” as well. Remember the time when Himesh composed songs like ” Tere Naam” !? This is the era I am talking about. A killer soundtrack which sounds as fresh and as romantic as when first released. The best song of the movie according to me is the song which comes during the end credits.

 

 

When I first saw this movie I was astonished in the beginning and thought  ” Oh my God another ” KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI”  ripoff. But then the “haadsaa”  happens in the movie and the movie takes it’s own course.

I would not like to give away any spoilers about what that “thing”  is that happens in the movie so I won’t spoil your pleasure of watching the movie (for the first time). But believe me when I say that as far as story goes this movie is even better then ” KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI” which boasted of stars like Salman Khan, Kaajol, Rani Mukherjee and Shah Rukh Khan. This movie does not have that big stars but manages to touch your heart nonetheless. And that my friends is the sign of a well produced, well directed and well acted movie which can be seen over and over again.

And again this movie totally belongs to Natassha aka Anita Hassanandani Reddy! For all you NAAGIN (season 3) fans check out this movie for sure and see Anita in action!

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KOI AAP SA (2005)

produced by Ektaa Kapoor  (Balaji)

directed by Partho Mitra

cast   Anita Hassanandani Reddy (Natassha)

Aftab Shivdesani, Dipannita Sharma, Himanshu Mallick and others

music by Himesh Reshammiya

playback by Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan, Udit Narayan and Shaan

 

If you like those golden oldie songs and song from the 90’s listen to my radioshow  “YAADEIN – A Walk Through Memory Lane”  every Sunday evening on SunriseFM (The Netherlands) at 10PM (Netherlands), 9PM (U.K.), 5PM (Surinam) and Monday 1.30AM (IST). The show can be heard through the SunriseFM app, tunein or online : http://www.sunrisefm.nl

Join our facebookgroup : GEET SANGEET   (https://www.facebook.com/groups/365183506962164/)

Feel free to leave all your feedback in the comments section…

Sholay (1975)

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So when I started writing this blog it took me all of my willpower NOT to start with “Sholay”. But recently I spoke to 2 persons who confessed not to have seen the movie ever. This prompted me to write about the “greatest film ever made”

There are all kind of films where ever films are made. You have cringe-worthy movies, super bad movies, bad movies, average movies, good movies and evergreen movies. And then you have  “Sholay”.  Sholay is -according to me and many others-  the best movie ever made (in India). “Sholay” is the most remade, the most admired and the most referenced movie ever to have been made in the Hindi Film Industry. Books have been written about  “Sholay”, thesis have been written and studies have been done to try to find out what made “Sholay” the movie it is. Whatever the outcome one fact remains: “Sholay” was, is and will remain the best of the best and think about the following: Whenever a top 10 list is made “Sholay” is on the list. Be it a list about action films, love stories, comedy films, the best on-screen pairing, songs that became an anthem… whatever the case “Sholay” will feature on the list.

There are too many facts and stories about “Sholay” to include in a simple blog like this. But I will give you my opinion about “the greatest movie ever made” with some facts and stories thrown in for fun. For all the people who have lived under a rock for the last 43 years and have not heard of or may not have seen  “Sholay” beware that this blog has been written assuming that everyone – from the elderly to unborn babies- have seen “Sholay” at least once in their lifetime.

 

G.P. Sippy was a producer who produced 22 films in a time span of 46 years. He started out with producing films like “Sazaa” (1951- Dev Anand with the evergreen song  “Tum Na Jane Kis Jahaan Mein”), 12 O’Clock (1958- Waheeda Rehman and Guru Dutt) ,Raaz (1967- which introduced Rajesh Khanna and Babita- the morher of Karishma and Kareena Kapoor) and “Brahmachari” ( Shammi Kapoor, Rajshree, Mumtaz, Pran, Jr. Mahmood and Sachin). Though everything would change with the movie that would release after “Brahmachari”.

Sholay- Ramesh Sippy02

Ramesh Sippy – who was the son of G.P. Sippy- was learning the ropes on the films produced by his father. He had been the assistant director on some movies and was the executive producer on “Brahmachari”.  He would finally go on to make his directing debut with a film that would release in 1971 and that would make him a hit director with his first film. It was also with this film that he would work with the writers duo that would become not only an integral part of his success but who would also become an integral part of Hindi Cinema…

Ramesh Sippy would go on to direct some movies which would be all different in genre but would all become a benchmark for those genres: Andaz (1971- Shammi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Simmi Garewal, Ajit and Rajesh Khanna in the first special appearance for a superstar) would be the first collaboration of Ramesh Sippy and the leading lady who would feature in some of his best work -Hema Malini. “Seeta aur Geeta” (1971- Hema Malini, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar) , Shaan (1980- Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Parveen Babi, Raakhee Gulzar, Shatrughan Sinha, Kulbhushan Karbanda, Bindiya Goswami and Mazhar Khan), “Shakti” (1982 – an underrated masterpiece with Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, Smita Patil, Raakhee Gulzar, Amrish Puri and an unknown Anil Kapoor), “Saagar” (1985- Rishi Kapoor, Kamal Hassan and Dimple Kapadia- who would go topless for this movie) followed. After these movies the magic disappeared and movies like “Bhrashtachar” (1989 – Rajnikant, Rekha, Mithun Chakrevotry and Shilpa Shirodkar in her debut movie), “Akayla” (1991 – Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Scroff, Meenakshi Shehshadri, Aditya Pancholi and Amrita Singh) and finally “Zamaana Deewana” (1995 – Shatrughan Sinha, Jeetendra, Raveena Tandon and Shah Rukh Khan) would follow and would all flop.

Ramesh Sippy would also be the only director to have another casting coup after bringing Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar together for the first and only time in “Shakti”. He started a movie with Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit as the two leading ladies. This movie  “Zameen” also featured Rajnikant, Vinod Khanna and Sanjay Dutt. The movie started and shooting progressed. But due to lack of funds the movie was shelved and never completed. But Sridevi- my all time favourite actress along with Madhubala-  and Madhuri Dixit did shoot for the movie together and even shot for a song together.

One movie made by Ramesh Sippy though has not been mentioned yet…

The casting of  “Sholay” could be subject to an entire book. When the film was to be started Sanjeev Kumar -who eventually played the Thakur- wanted to play the role of Veeru (since he was in love with Hema Malini and after “Seeta aur Geeta” wanted another opportunity to be her leading man). Dharemendra -who eventually BECAME Veeru wanted to play the role of  the Thakur. Amitabh Bachchan initially wanted to play the role of Gabbar Singh. Ramesh Sippy went to Dharmendra who was “silently” in love with Hema Malini (and it was common knowledge that Sanjeev Kumar was in love with Hema Malini as well) and told him that if he plays the Thakur Ramesh will give the role of Veeru to Sanjeev Kumar and Sanjeev would be able to romance Hema on-screen. Better judgement prevailed and Dharmendra accepted the role of Veeru. Sanjeev had no choice but to accept the role of the Thakur. Hema Malini was always there as Basanti. No second option was even considered. Jaya Bhaduri-Bachchan was cast as the widowed daughter in law of Thakur- Radha. Two more roles were to be cast: Jai and Gabbar Singh.

For the role of Jai Shatrughan Sinha was considered. And Danny Denzongpa was considered for the role of Gabbar Singh. Amitabh Bachchan however who really wanted the role of Jai approached Dharmendra and requested him to recommend him to the director. Dharmendra -who is all heart and emotion- could not say no to Bachchan and not knowing that his friend Shatrughan Sinha was considered for the role recommended him to Ramesh Sippy. But that was not enough to persuade Ramesh Sippy. Two others would have a big hand in the decision.

Danny Denzonpa was considered for the role of Gabbar Singh and was even offered the role. But Danny had just signed to play a role in Feroz Khan’s take on  “The Godfather” which had a big cast as well (though not so big as “Sholay”) and his dates for shooting which were required for ‘Sholay” had already been alloted to Feroz Khan for his  “Dharmatma”. The principled gentleman that Danny is he turned down the role of Gabbar Singh. And once again those 2 gentleman came to the rescue…

Salim-Javed were at the top of their game at that time. It seemed that every script they wrote turned into gold. They started as writers for G.P. Sippy films but didn’t get credit for films like “Haathi Mere Saathi” (1971- Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja). But they went on to turn out hit after hit including Ramesh Sippy’s own  “Seeta aur Geeta”. And when they intervened with suggestions those suggestions were taken seriously as the past proved that they were right, not most of the time, but all the time in those days. Salim-Javed had in the meantime created the role of the angry young man and had made Prakash Mehra cast Amitabh Bachchan in “Zanjeer” 1973. Salim – Javed insisted (though “zanjeer” had not been released yet when “Sholay” started and Amitabh Bachchan had not yet become the God of Hindi Cinema) that Amitabh Bachchan be taken for the role of Jai and so happened. Salim ( who by the way is the father of current superstar Salman Khan) had seen Amjad Khan in a play many years ago and was impressed and had not forgotten him. Amjad Khan’s name was suggested and eventually he ended up doing the role. There are some other stories regarding Amjad Khan and Sholay like how he was disillusioned with Salim Khan later on and never worked in another Salim-Javed script which we will not get into in this blog.

As far as I know “Sholay” might be the only movie of which each and every character is remembered (and quoted in our daily lives) and loved. Who can forget Asrani as the “angrezon ke zamane ke jailor -HA HA” who would reprise this role in two other films (in one of these films he would see Amitabh en Dharmendra -a clip would be used from the song  “Ek Rasta Do Rahi” from the movie “Ram Balram”- and it would be mentioned that those two were the sons of Jai and Veeru).  Jagdeep as  “Soorma Bhopali” who would eventually make an entire movie with this character in the lead, A.K. Hangal as the “chacha” , Sachin, Viju Khote as  “Kaalia” and who will ever be able to forget McMohan as Sambha!?

The dialogues of this film are one of the many highlights. And the writers have seen to it that each and every character have dialogues that stand out. I am not going to quote any dialogues here but the dialogues are used even today in our daily lives. Though I must confess -and this is not because I am the biggest Amitabh fan on the planet-  Amitabh has the best lines because I can identify with his sarcasm filled humor.

Now for the main star cast:

Each and every member of the main cast gave an outstanding performance and it is impossible to visualize any other actor in any of the roles. Sanjeev Kumar as the ex police officer intent on revenge is bang on. Hema Malini as Basanti  “jinko fuzool baat karni ke aadat nahin” is so great it is still etched in our memory and even today when a girl talks too much we call the girl Basanti. Amjad Khan, what can be said about him as Gabbar that has not been said or written before. Amjad Khan is remembered till this date for his superb portrayal and he would go on to reprise this role in the spoof  “Ramgarh ke Sholay” which had imitators of heroes in the lead. The actress who is not usually credited with the sublime work she has done in this movie is Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan. The way she emotes without actually saying anything is a masterclass in acting. You feel her pain and feel for her.

In the following clip which is the death scene of Jai you get to see a masterclass in Hindi Cinema by director Ramesh Sippy, music composer R.D. Burman and actors Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan. The scene itself is emotional but the song composed by R.D. Burman takes it to another level. The direction by Ramesh Sippy is nothing less then genius. But the performances by Jaya and Sanjeev are superb. Jaya emotes without saying a word (like for most of the movie)  and Sanjeev wants to comfort his widowed daughter in love who was going to be married to the deceased Amitabh Bachchan but he can’t even comfort her as his arms have been chopped off. Masterful!

I have mentioned all the supporting actors in the movie as well as the main leads except for one:

What can one say about the greatest actor to have ever graced the Indian Screen? For the younger generation who only knows The Great Bachchan from his father roles in those Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan movies… watch this and anyone will understand why we love, admire and respect Amitabh Bachchan the way we do. And some people like me just worship him. There has never been anyone like him before him and, hell, there will never be anyone remotely like him again. No matter how hard people try. Some actors may try to remake his films like “Don”, “Zanjeer” or “Agneepath” and these movies maybe technically more advanced then the Bachchan versions but these remakes lack in one thing when compared to the original: AMITABH BACHCHAN.

Everyone I spoke to and all articles I have read question one aspect of the movie: did Jai have to die? I wish Jai did not die in the movie. Since I know he will die, whenever I watch the movie and the train comes in at the beginning and the title music starts to play, I start getting emotional knowing Jai will sacrifice himself at the end. I realise that the death of Jai gives the film an extra emotional graph that is needed near the ending of the movie, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t have minded it that much if Veeru would have sacrificed himself. There is no other actor who could have pulled of this role with that sarcastic humor except for Amitabh Bachchan.

The tracks of  “Sholay” and the sublime theme music have been composed by R.D. Burman who was the house composer for Ramesh Sippy. Noteworthy is that for Ramesh Sippy films “Seeta aur Geeta”, “Sholay”, “Shakti” and “Saagar” a great theme music was composed by R.D. Burman. The songs sung by Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Lata Mangeshkar and R.D. Burman himself were all hits but not that big a hit as the dialogues. The Anand Bakshi written songs are remembered even today. Even today when we think of a song on friendship the songs that comes to mind at once is  “Yeh Dosti Hum Nahin Todenge”. There is one song which was not used in the film which was sung by Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Bhupindra Singh and lyricist Anand Bakshi.

“Sholay” was the first film for which records were released  (and sold out!) containing the dialogues of the movie.

There are 3 versions of “Sholay doing the rounds :

01. The theatrical version as the film was first released in cinema’s.

02. The version with the alternate ending. This was initially supposed to be the ending and was filmed first by Ramesh Sippy.  The censor board (even in those days!) rejected the ending and wanted it re-shot.

03. The extended edition with some extra scenes including scenes of Sachin’s character and Gabbar Singh, a few seconds extra of Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan and a shot of Amitabh Bachchan before he is cremated and an extended scene (just a few seconds) of Amitabh and Jaya.

This is not the only Amitabh Bachchan film which has two different endings. There is another ’70s film which has two different endings doing the rounds. In one ending Amitabh dies in that movie and in the other ending he survives. And that movie stars Sanjeev Kumar as well. But that is for another post!

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Sholay (1975)

produced by G.P. Sippy

directed by Ramesh Sippy

music by Rahul Dev Burman

lyrics by Anand Bakshi

singers Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey, R.D. Burman, Bhupinder and Anand Bakshi

cast Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, Amjad Khan, Asrani, Jagdeep, Keshto Mukherjee, Viju Khote, Sachin, A.K. Hangal, McMohan, Om ShivPuri and others

Sholay -Jai & Veeru