Imagine yourselves as an adult, & a Cinema lover in the year 1978. Even as an average movie buff you would have at least watched the top four grosser of the year. All the four would have starred Amitabh Bachchan. He was at his zenith. The high point in his career, when the phrase “one man industry” was coined for him.
Now imagine yourself as a jury member of the Filmfare award of 1979, for the previous year’s movies. In the best Actor’s category there were 5 nominations.
1. Amitabh Bachchan (Trishul)
2. Amitabh Bachchan ( Muqqadar ka Sikandar)
3. Amitabh Bachchan ( Don)
the other two were for Sanjiv Kumar; for Devta and Pati Patni aur Woh. While Sanjiv Kumar was a great actor, these two movies weren’t the vehicle to get him an award. So, this part was easy; it had to be Amitabh Bachchan. Now the tough part, which one of these three sterling performances should be awarded. As a Jury member what would you have done?
Tough one! Amitabh’s role in Don was a double role, two different characters brought alive in such fine acting display that was inimitable (forget sha …sh… sha… sh…).
Don won the award for Big B!
It is not Don that I want to review today. Two of these movies were also nominated in the Best Movie category, Muqaddar ka Sikandar and Trishul. Niether won the Best Picture award! The director of these two movies, i.e Prakash Mehra and Yash Copra were also nominated for the best director, again neither won the award (granted that they were up against Satyajit Ray). The same year Rekha was also nominated for Best Actress ( Ghar) and Best actress in a supporting role ( Muqaddar ka Sikandar). She did not win in any category either. In the music category the music of Kalyanji Anand ji for Muqaddar ka Sikandar and Kyyam for Trishul were not even nominated.
I want to review Muqaddar ka Sikandar, as the first movie I’ll recommend you to hire. As the first piece of Art that touched my senses and tingled my sensibilities, as the first kiss, or first love would. As one of the best movie during my growing up years, like the first taste of honey for a new-born. I was 7 years old, literally a new-born in terms of understanding of pain, poverty and love; a toddler in appreciation of courage, sacrifice, good and bad; but I must have grown a couple of years, in those three hours, having watched this masterpiece. I remember insisting upon keeping my top three shirt buttons open for many days afterterwards, inspired by Amitabh. But I insist that it was not that I wanted to show off my hairy chest, (I had none), it was simply because I had outgrown my clothes, (thanks to those three hours), hence the buttons would not close. (I’ll check the facts around this with my mom, and come back to you, though I think that was the case). Memories can play tricks with you, so I revisited it as a more matured adult, after having watched hundreds of other movies and surprise surprise………..I found MKS, still as one of the best Big B movies, ever! It was still honey, pure and perfect!
You should watch this if you have not done so recently; if not for the above lame reasons then as the highest grosser (inflation adjusted) ever, for an Amitabh-in-a-leading-role movie (technically, Sholay would not be an Amitabh led movie).
Now let’s talk about the movie itself, a perfect potboiler, a perfect masala movie with exaggerated emotions and superb acting to back this.
The Movie and the Direction
Muqaddar ka Sinkandar, what an apt name for this movie, after the great conqueror Alexander the Great, who died at the age of 32, but achieved so much at such a tender age. On one hand a conqueror of land but on another such a loser, a sad tale it was, Alexander’s life story. MKS is a tragedy as well. With the lead protagonist Sikandar, who fights poverty, odds & shame, with an undaunted spirit and grows to be materially successful. Essentially the movie is a love story, a multi-angeled love story. Sikandar (Amitabh) is in love with Kamna (Rakhi), who falls in love with Vishal (Vinod Khanna), who is also the best friend of Sikandar. He doesnot know this untill the end, though. A beautiful coutesian Zohra (Rekha), who is so in love with Sikandar, but Sikandar cannot return her love as he is already comitted to Kamna since childhood, at least in his mind. Then there is a Dilawar (Amzad) the deadly Goon who is after Rekha and swears enimity with Sikandar. A complex story which get’s resolved with death of Zohra and Sikandar’s in the end.
There are endless conflicts in Sikandar’s mind, he is not able to speak out his heart before Kamna, untill it is too late. He fears that she and her father hate him. Then when he learns that his best friend and Kamna are in love then for both their sake he just moves out of their way.
A story about good and bad, a story about friendship, about love, about rich and poor, about achievements and materialistic attainments. About principles, and supreme sacrifices, about relationships and mentoring. About attainment of happiness, by going beyond selfishness, and guarding the happiness of ones you love.
Prakash Mehra excels in his direction and the story is tight and fast paced.
The Starcast and Acting.
Rarely have an ensemble of such actors done their part to perfection. It’s an Amitabh’s movie when it comes to acting through and through; and more of that later. Inspite of the big presence of Amitabh, Vinod Khanna, Rakhi and notably Rekha has given sterling performances. Rekha as the courtesan Zohra Bai, has depicted her character through very talented acting and brilliant dialogue delivery; like when Vishal confronts Zohra to ask her to get out of Sikandar’s life; then Rekha says….”Apke samaz mein kaun dhongi nahin hai…..” Kader Khan wrote the dialogues and they are above average. But it was Rekha’s acting as the courtesan in this movie that would have weighed heavy on her landing the role in Umrao Jaan. She shines!
Amitabh is at his usual best. His unruffled suits, his cool exterior, and sometimes his drunk demeanour conceals and at the same time reveals his pain and longing of a lifetime. Some scenes are indelible. Like, the short speech Amitabh delivers on the stage before he sings ” O saathi re….”. Or his conversation with Vishal when he comes home drunk. Amitabh can carry the drunk scenes like no one else can. He did that in this movie, Amar Akbar Anthony, Shakti and countless others. Infact the whole of Sharabi movie was in the same streak. Or the brilliant dream sequence performance where he shoots at Vinod Khanna. It is difficult to rank his acting against his own, so I would say again, watch the whole movie if nothing then for his acting.
It would be sheer unjustice not to mention Vinod Khanna and Rakhi, who did great. That would not have been easy considering it was so much a movie for Amitabh.
Filmfare or no filmfare, the music is brilliant. Some songs are my all time favourites. Whether it is the lines of Salame Ishq meri jaan…or the male rendition of the same song….Iske aage ki ab dastaan mujhse sun…..” (Notable is the way Amitabh gets up from a squat while delivering these lines, and throwing one of his very long hands in the air). The haunting music of O saathi re, or the lifting flowing music of “Dil to hai dil” are eternal.
You may think that this long essay is like an obsessive love for just a mainstream movie…..I would say – “Aa gaya jo kise pe pyar kya kije”
Enjoy and do let me know what do you think!