It is Pure Entertainment From the Word Go!
By MovieTalkies, 13 January 2009
By the time Manmohan Desai came to Naseeb (1991), the director was at the height of his creative powers. He had tried and tested his formulae and had come up with the perfect recipe for success. He was a master of clichés and the fact is amply revealed in his movies. Opinions may be divided, but it would be safe to declare that Naseeb was one of his most polished works, along with Amar Akbar Anthony, of course.
At first look, Naseeb has all the Manmohan Desai regulars, a large star cast, the clichéd lost and found theme and, of course, Amitabh Bachchan. Besides his favourite actor, the film also stars Hema Malini, Rishi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Pran, Amjad Khan, Kadar Khan, Prem Chopra, Shakti Kapoor, Reena Roy, Kim, Lalita Pawar and countless others.
There is so made out the Bollywood star parade in Shah Rukh Khan's Om Shanti Om, when in fact, Manmohan Desai had beaten him to it so many years ago. The song, 'John Jani Janradhan,' features the who's who of Bollywood, beginning with the late Raj Kapoor, who is accompanied by Mala Sinha. Shammi Kapoor comes in with Waheeda Rehman and Indrani Mukherjee, Rajesh Khanna with Sharmila Tagore, Dharmendra with Simi Garewal, Randhir Kapoor with Simple Kapadia and Bindu, Vijay Arora and Rakesh Roshan. And bringing the whole show together is the towering personality of Bachchan.
The film's story is very typically a cliché ridden masala type. Like the film's name Naseeb, which means destiny, its story too is one about fate and chance. The film begins with a lottery ticket which falls into the hands of one Namdev, who is a waiter at an Irani restaurant. A drunk who is unable to pay his bill leaves it with him. Namdev shares this ticket his three friends, Damu (Amjad Khan). Raghu (Kader Khan) and Jaggi. However, when the ticket turns out to be the winning lottery ticket, Damu and Raghu play dirty. They kill Jaggi, frame Namdev and make off with the earnings. Before, claiming the winning amount, they do away with Namdev by hurling his unconscious body into the river. However, Namdev survives as he is rescued by a don (Amrish Puri). On the other side, Namdev's wife dies in a train accident and his two sons are brought up by Mrs Gomes, along with Julie.
Times passes and Raghu and Damu use the lottery amount to buy a hotel. With time, they become rich businessmen. Incidentally, Namdev's eldest son Johnny (Amitabh Bachchan) and Damu's son Vicky (Shatrughan Sinha) are the best of friends. However, Vicky goes away abroad for further studies while Johnny is hired as a waiter at Damu and Raghu's hotel. Coincidentally, both friends fall in love with hotel crooner Asha (Hema Malini). Julie, also Vicky's childhood friend, is in love with him. On learning of Vicky's love for Asha, Johnny and Julie sacrifice their love. Meanwhile, Johnny's younger brother, Sunny (Rishi Kapoor) is in love with Asha's younger sister Kim (Kim). Both are daughters of Jaggi, who was murdered by Raghu and Damu. Meanwhile, Namdev comes back to India and plots his revenge on Damu and Raghu. There is a scene which has father and son, Namdev and Johnny fighting it out with each other before Mrs Gomes arrives, pat on time, and discloses the truth.
There are enough twists in the plot to keep one hooked onto one's seats. Besides the twists and turns of the plot, the film has the right measure of emotion, making it a well brewed blend. Naseeb, which has been written by Kadar Khan and Prayag Raj, is a story of love, friendship betrayal, sacrifice and revenge. Desai employs a light touch on the film's proceedings never going overboard with any emotion. Every emotion and mood has its place in Desai's palette and he mixes them like a master painter.
The film's USP is definitely Bachchan. He plays the part of a waiter, a laidback lover, a loyal friend and a loving brother. Despite the film being a multi-starrer, Bachchan is all over, fighting, emoting, doing his famous drunk scenes etc. In fact, one of the best scenes of this film are the scenes featuring Hema Malini and the actor. The next favourite would be the two boxing scenes of Bachchan. They have Manmohan Desai written boldly across them. Undoubtedly, Naseeb is also vintage Bachchan a time when the actor was looking his best. Most importantly, Bachchan also delivers a very controlled performance, as he had a director who was not in awe of him. Desai was one of the creators of the Bachchan myth. In fact, the two were made for each other. They needed each other to complete themselves. And as an actor Amitabh Bachchan has rarely given such free flowing performances as he has done for Manmohan Desai. As for the late director, it was in Bachchan that he found the right actor to carry his brand of cinema forward.
While the film is a lot about Amitabh Bacchan, it is still not all about him. He is brilliantly supported by Hema Malini and Rishi Kapoor, Pran, Amjad Khan and Shatrughan Sinha. Hema's Asha is a feisty woman, who doesn't scare easily and can take on a few villains by herself as well. It is rare to see the Dream Girl wearing a gown and doing a bump and grind routine, as she does in the title song, 'Mere Naseeb Main Tu Hai Ke Nahin.' A woman of her beauty and grace manages to carry it all off graciously. The actress was even nominated for Filmfare's Best Actress Award for Naseeb.
The second heroine, Reena Roy, who made a definite entry into the creamy layer when she managed a role in such a big multistarrer, opposite Bachchan. Unfortunately, even in this film, her romantic lead was played by Shatrughan Sinha. Kim has the least meaty role and fewest scenes but manages to acquit herself well. Rishi Kapoor and Shatrughan Sinha play second fiddle to Bachchan but still manage to make their presence felt.
The baddies are impressive as always. Amjad Khan, Kader Khan, Pran, Prem Chopra, Amrish Puri and Shakti Kapoor all contribute their bit, but the ones who stand out are definitely Pran and Amrish Puri.
Naseeb's music has been composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal and it has some memorable songs beginning with Mohammed Rafi's 'John Jani Janardhan', to Lata Mangeshkar's 'Mere Naseeb Main, to 'Chal Chal Mere Bhai' and 'Zinbdagi Imtihaan Leti Hai.' The songs suit the mood of the film and have been picturised quite memorably.
Naseeb is one of those classic films along with Amar Akbar Anthony, which can be watched again and again and its magic and charm is still as fresh today as it was yesterday. It is not great cinema artistically speaking but a superbly crafted film, which is entertaining from the word go. The most amazing thing about the film is the manner in which its director crafts the film, with never a dull or boring moment. He manages to keep his audience glued on to every scene. There is nothing which extraneous in the movie. Every scene, every dialogue has its place and need in the scheme of things. ,Manmohan Desai was a director who truly knew his craft and the art of infusing it with mad spontaneity. Truly a genius.!