If you search Wikipedia for “Masala Entertainers” in Bollywood, the first thing you will find is the name Manmohan Desai (try it, seriously). And Amar Akbar Anthony is one of his best movies, if not the best! In food parlance, it is like the Chappan Bhog thali, which serves you everything…aaaand a bit more, in one sitting. Revenge saga-check, wailing Nirupa Roy-check, action-check, hoot-able dialogues-check, Pran & Amitabh combo—hell yeah!!!!
Amar Akbar Anthony came out in 1977. It was an era when Bollywood consciously made the move from the quintessential underdog story of the protagonist to a more dominating, ensemble cast with comedy and action juxtaposed with sharp plot developments. The audience loved the larger than life protagonists, the “heroes” in full justification of the word. And they embraced Amitabh wholeheartedly. The character of Anthony is etched in the memories of the audience, irrespective of the decade in which they watch it. And it was the era of heavy dialogues which made its way into popular culture. Word of mouth got a whole new meaning with these movies. Glaring loopholes and inconsistent writing took back seat to fancy set-pieces. And why not. Amar Akbar Anthony brought financial and critical acclaim for its makers. Best actor, Best Music Director, Best editing were lapped up at the 25th Filmfare awards.
The character of Anthony is etched in the memories of the audience, irrespective of the decade in which they watch it.
The story touched chords too. A down-on-his-luck chauffeur Kishanlal (Pran), who was duped by his villainous employer, Robert (the magnificent Jeevan) tries desperately to look out for his family of 3 kids and wife but all hell let loose on them during the first 20 minutes (because why not, the revenge will feel sweeter in the climactic scene!). The wife gets blinded, the kids stranded and the father gets loads of gold and becomes a wealthy goon himself…you still with us? Okay, now the fun starts! The three kids are raised by different families, one as a Hindu, one as a Christian and the youngest one as a Muslim! Behold the secular touch in a masala entertainer! Re-release the movie now for God’s sake!
Amar (Vinod Khanna) grows up to be the righteous cop, Akbar (Rishi Kapoor) becomes a singer and Anthony (Amitabh Bachchan) becomes a happy-go-lucky scamp who fights for the underprivileged. The middle half of the story marches on fast, with courtship and song and dance routine. Oh! And did we mention that Jenny, the love interest of Anthony is Robert’s daughter who was kidnapped by Kishanlal ! Feeling lost in the quagmire already? Wait till we tell you about how the three sons donate blood to their own mother, not knowing about her identity. (more than the odds of that happening, we were flummoxed by the odds of all three having the same blood group). If you are looking for logic and a well fleshed out storyline, you may feel lost. But consider this—it was 1977, the movie had the heart in its right place, the acting was phenomenal, songs were addictive and somewhere, the characters resonated with the audience. From the good guy Amar, to the quasi-legal operator Anthony and the dibs-on-all-the-good-songs funny-man Akbar, the characters were over the top, yet absolutely likeable and we root for them till the end. Shout out to Jeevan and Pran (with almost synonymous real names who master the kingpin roles to perfection) who make their presence felt amidst the star power that is on display in the movie. The editing of the movie has to be complimented for maintaining a brisk pace to the proceedings and keeping every character’s story in the loop which all culminates in the final showdown.
The music of this movie is a star in itself. Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar all lent their voices to this movie and the songs have remained evergreen in the public memory. The song “Humko Tumse Ho Gya Hain Pyaar” will forever stay in our hearts for bringing together all the aforementioned legends including Mukesh. Laxmikant-Pyarelal gave us brilliant compostions like “Parda Hain” and the goofy “My Name is Anthony Gonzalves” which still adorn our playlists and the retro segment of FM stations.
Amar Akbar Anthony is an out and out entertainer. Silly, funny but loads of fun. This movie works best with popcorn in hand and few friends around. Dancing unabashedly to the tunes of “Tayyab Ali Pyar Ka Dushman” is an involuntary reflex of your body. You will not be able to help it! Go enjoy!
gobblpoint: Amitabh as Anthony absolutely steals the show. This is quintessential Bollywood – epic story-telling, entertainment and music !
Disclaimer: The images used in this blog are the sole property of the makers of this film and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.