Movie Review – Amar Akbar Anthony (Hindi, 1977)
Genre – All round entertainer
Director- Manmohan Desai
Cast – Pran, Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor,
Nirupa Roy, Jeevan, Ranjeet
One of the most entertaining movies of all times to come out of Bollywood, Amar Akbar Anthony is a smasher right from the word go and never once does it allow scope for a dull break and rushes right through to the fun filled jubilant ending with all the main protagonists coming together for the ultimate reunion. A movie working on the lost and found premise and woven around some impossible coincidental occurrences and circumstances, manages somehow to get all the blocks and sections of the complicated jigsaw to fit in just right to form, well… the perfect picture.
The story begins with Kishanlal (Pran), a driver working for ganglord and smuggler Robert (Jeevan), trying to make a getaway along with his three kids and is forced to leave them in a little park while trying to deceive the gang hoodlums hot on his trail. As he gives them the slip and returns, he finds to his dismay that all his kids have disappeared. He returns home only to find that his wife (Nirupa Roy) has left him for his wrong ways, intimating plans of leaving the world for good. As he leaves home disconsolate with a heavy heart and a box full of gold bars (inadvertently left behind by the gang in the getaway vehicle), thirsting for revenge, he is once again pursued by the goons but this time, in the ensuing chase, takes a tumble down a cliff and is presumed to have perished along with his kids. Meanwhile, the wife is in regret after an unfortunate mishap where she loses her eyesight and decides to return home only to be greeted by the tragic news of the demise of her husband and her kids in the car accident.
Break to the kids in the park. The eldest child follows out after his dad as he hurriedly leaves them in the park and is hit by a speeding car. A kind hearted Police inspector, a Hindu, following behind stops and decides to take the boy with him. The second one runs out a little later in the heavy rain to fetch some food for his kid brother and ends up at the doorsteps of a church, and is taken in by the father of the church. The third one, a little toddler, is bawling inconsolaby when a Muslim samaritan drives by. He stops, and seeing no guardian around, decides to become one himself and takes the crying baby under his loving care.
Years later, the eldest one grows up to be a brave and honest police officer Inspector Amar (Vinod Khanna), the second one is a carefree charmer Anthony Gonsalves (Amitabh Bachchan) running a licensed Toddy bar right under the nose of the churchs’ disapproving father but is simply tolerated for his innate goodness. The third and youngest one is a talented and rising qawwali singer Akbar Ilahabadi (Rishi Kapoor). The aged mother is now a wandering vagabond, still under the impression of having no one and nothing to live for, with absolutely no inkling at all of the presence of her grownup children who at one time even come together inadvertently for donating blood to her during a life saving operation. All of them keep coming together in many other jovial situations without ever realisng about their blood ties with each other.
Inspector Amar is desperately searching for the culprit (Robert again) who has gunned down his Superior and guardian while his father Kishanlal who is now a ganglord, is also looking for Robert in a matter of pending revenge.
As is typical of a fulsome Bollywood potboiler, the protagonists finally come together after their true identities and relations are revealed in serendipitous instances and plan to avenge the atrocities committed by Robert. The pull of the movie remains the incredible chutzpah with which the director Manmohan Desai orchestrates the numerous subplots to a perfectly gelling symphony and takes it to a convincing and happily entertaining ending.
Some unforgettable characters like the stern and intimidating KishanLal, the funnily sinister Robert with his tongue-rolling slanting accent, the troublesome and interfering Taiyyab Ali, and of course some dynamic confrontations between the dashing Inspector Amar and the swaggering Anthony Gonsalves make for great viewing and is one of the main reasons for it being a major attraction even today on the TV rerun circuit.
To digress, the title of the movie also indicated a hint calling for communal harmony among the many religions constituting the indian milieu.
Umpteen movies have followed carrying the same formula and some may have even succeeded but none have been able to match upto the sheer energy and magic of this amazing multistarrer with its intentional albeit consummate histrionics and tuneful chartbusters.
A statistic worth mentioning here- Along with the above mentioned, three other movies of the same genre from the same director were released in the same calendar year, all of them going on to becoming humongous hits with Amar Akbar Anthony turning out to be the biggest of them all, which speaks volumes about the director’s tremendous talent and expertise not only in terms of technical hold but also in being able to perfectly gauge the pulse of the classes as well as the masses.
Suraj D. Shetty