It is Bachchan All The Way
By MovieTalkies.com, 24 September 2008
Once upon a time, many years ago, a director approached this young struggling actor to play the lead in his film. It was a role which had been turned down by many established actors till it reached this young man. The actor agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history. That film was Zanjeer and its director, Prakash Mehra, and the man who made history following the success of that film, Amitabh Bachchan. Following the success of Zanjeer, Bachchan and Mehra collaborated on quite a few successful films together. In fact, Mehra, Yash Chopra, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Manmohan Desai were played a major role in Bachchan's phenomenal success in the Seventies and the Eighties. Mehra and Bachchan collaborated on six films after Zanjeer, Hera Pheri and Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1977), Laawaris (1981), Namak Halal (1982), Sharaabi (1984) and Jaadugar. Incidentally, of the six, five were superhits except for Jaadugar, which flopped miserably.
Mehra started his career in films as a production controller before he directed his first film in 1968 called Haseena Maan Jayegi, starring Shashi Kapoor in a double role. His next venture was called Mela and starred Feroz and Sanjay Khan. But it was with the 1973 Zanjeer that he first tasted such stupendous success. The film was a break from the usual musical romances which were the rule of the day. Besides Bachchan and Mehra, the others who benefited from the film were the writer duo of Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar. They changed forever the landscape of Hindi cinema. Quite a few things changed in Hindi cinema following the release and success of Zanjeer. The director-actor formed an invincible team, which Mehra broke just once to make film with his favourite Vinod Khanna in Haath Ki Safai. The other non-Bachchan films that he directed, include, Zindagi Ek Jua in 1991 with Anil Kapoor, and Bal Brahmachari with Puru Raj Kumar in 1996. He has been honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by India Motion Picture Producer & Directors Association in 2006. Shorn of success, Mehra today ekes out a lonely existence away from films.
Mehra's Laawaris, made in 1981, is today more famous for the song, 'Mere Angane Main Tumhara Kya Kaam Hai than anything else. It was sung by Alka Yagnik and Amitabh Bachchan. The second version was a rage in the Eighties. But even Yagnik shot to fame with this song. Also shooting to fame with this film was character actor Suresh Oberoi. His role won him the nomination for Filmfare Best Supporting Actor while Bachchan was nominated for Filmfare Best Actor. The film, whose story is written by Shashi Bhushan with dialogues by Kader Khan, was also remade into a Telugu film starring NT Rama Rao and Jayasudha.
This film also perpetuates the persona of the 'Angry Young Man', as created and played by Bachchan. He plays Vijay, the orphan in this film. Vijay is the illegitimate son of a wealthy businessman (Amjad Khan) and a singer (Raakhee). He is abandoned at birth and brought up by an alcoholic Gangu Ganpat (Shreeram Lagoo). While growing up, he names himself Heera, after a stray dog. The issue of being an orphan rankles deep within him. As he grows up, Vijay starts working for Mahendra Singh (Ranjeet) Here, he meets and falls in love with Mohini (Zeenat Aman). But she initially rejects him and raises the question of his parentage. This spurs him on a journey to discover who his parents are. And the only link to the past is Ganpat. The film, of course, ends on a predictable note, with Vijay discovering his father and the identity of his mother. All is well that ends well, but not before a lot of gimmicks by Amitabh Bachchan. The most famous of them being the 'Mere Angane Main' song and dance routine that he does. By the time Laawaris was made, Amitabh was already a phenomenon, Hence his favourite directors, like Mehra, made films, in which almost every frame features the Big B. All the action in the film is intiated by his character. Bachchan's characters have always very well-written with the strongest of lines. That's what happens in this film as well. Hence, there is high drama, romance, emotions, sentiment, fights as well as the usual song and dance routine.
One of the best things going for the film is the Amitabh-Zeenat Aman jodi. The two have worked together in quite a few films and share a good chemistry on screen. Bachchan with his brooding, smouldering personality and Zeenat with her sexy persona. Bachchan is the highlight of the film. His character and persona towers over the others in the film. He is at total ease as he beats up Ranjeet and his goons or gets into an angst about his parents. One has to see the earlier films of Bachchan to realise what a great actor he is. Zeenat lends a glamorous turn to the proceedings with her sultry presence. But in the acting department, Raakhee comes for a brief scene and doe sit very well indeed. Amjad Khan, as the estranged father, brings out the subtle nuances of his character very well indeed. Suresh Oberoi really shot into prominence with this film. His deep baritone voice helps to stand out from the rest of the cast. Ranjeet dons the character of the villain very well.
The film's music was very popular. After all, the famous duo of Kalyanji Anandji were behind the compositions like 'Mere Angane Mein, Apni To Jaise Taise, Kab Ke Bichre, or Kahe Paise Pe Itna Garoor Kare Hai. Each of the numbers has been picturised very well by Mehra. He has fully exploited the film's music and his lead actor to make a very entertaining film.. The film is very well made and also touches an emotional core, as most of Bachchan's earlier films had a capacity to do. His character of the angry young man, always gets a reaction. One cannot remain unaffected by him. And so it is with this film as well.
Mehra crafts an interesting film out of not so original material and delivers a hit as well. Every element in the film is present in just the right proportion and quantity, allowing the genius of Amitabh Bachchan to flower. The film showcases him. And he is puts in a very good allround performance making it one of the highlights of his career.