Director: Yash Chopra
Aka - Trident
This is a big soggy old fashioned Bollywood drama (with some fisticuffs
thrown in of course) that wanders around like a dog in no hurry to get home.
It was a big hit back in 1978 and is still highly regarded today by Bollywood
fans. Mainly because of Amitabh Bachchan giving one of his finest fiery performances.
He was still in his Angry Young Man phase at this time - the image that made
him a star - and here he is basically pissed off for 166 of the 167 minutes
of the running time. It is directed by Yash Chopra who for about 45 years
reigned in Bollywood as the premier producer/director. A Yash Chopra production
whether directed by him or another was always a big deal - the best production
values and a guaranteed topnotch group of actors.
He was able to get pretty much any talent he wanted - composers (Khayyam
here), script writer (Javed Akhtar) and casting. He wants the 1960's legend
Waheeda Rehman for a small but critical part - no problem; the huge star Hema
Malini in a secondary romantic relationship - why not; launch the career of
Miss India in her debut with Poonam Dhillon - an honor; some fine character
actors with Sanjeev Kumar, Rakhee Gulzar and the always villainous Prem Chopra.
And of course he brings in the two big guns Amitabh and Shashi Kapoor. It
is the sort of Bollywood film where you just sit back on a cushy couch and
watch the actors go full bloom with thespian rage. All the men get their shots
here (the woman are generally in the background except during the musical
numbers) with their moments to hit it out of the park with the camera catching
in close-up the words tumbling out of their mouths in fury and their eyes
Perhaps too much of that for me since the English subs don't capture the
poetry or eloquence of these diatribes all that well - Bollywood fans memorize
these dialogues - and in this one the sub-titler at about the 90 minute mark
got tired and decided that translating every one out of every ten sentences
still gave us the gist. And it probably did. Because the plot is pretty basic.
Revenge. It reminded me though I have no idea why of a gentler kinder Old
Boy. A man intricately plans his revenge against a man who wronged him and
wants to destroy everything he holds dear including his family.
The film begins with a couple - Raj Kumar Gupta (Sanjeev) and his girlfriend
Shanti (Waheeda) rolling around in the grass to a song. Deeply in love, planning
to get married and oops - she is with child. Raj gets a good talking to by
his mother who says choose - a life of poverty or marry the boss's daughter
of a big construction firm and be wealthy. He thinks for about 15 seconds
and says I will take Door #2. So he ditches Shanti and she disappears. Not
quite the end of the story - in another song she has a baby boy and he grows
up to be 25 years old. I sometimes think my life has gone by in the length
of a song - a longish one though. The boy now man is Vijay (Amitabh) and after
his mother dies in poverty and shame (a baby with no father) he sets off
to ruin the man - his father - who did this.
But not through the normal channels - a quick kill - but by building a rival
construction firm and destroying him. How a 25 year old with no money is able
to accomplish this doesn't exactly make sense but two times he has to singlehandedly
beat up groups of men with punches that could be heard in Bombay (the film
takes place in New Delhi). He thoughtfully though brings along an ambulance
to carry them to the hospital. Filling out the story Raj has two children
- the effervescent and playful Shekhar (Shashi) and the very cute Babli (Poonam).
Shekhar takes up with Hema and Babli with some guy who never went very far
in acting. The first 2 hours felt slow to me - Vijay growls and glowers a
lot - but the final section of the film turns up the volume of emotional
release as the father and his son realize who Vijay is - and there are more
fisticuffs and a few tears. You basically tune in here for a brooding Amitabh
in full but restrained fury. And for me there is the added pleasure of the
always tacky interior designs of these large houses, the cool cars and the
sights of New Delhi as they drove around.