Friday, 17 October 2008

Anmol (1993)

I have a soft spot for this movie. It is after all the movie which sold me on Rishi Kapoor. If, however, the thought if Rishi and Manisha Koirala as a couple gives you serious misgivings, or the screaming heebie jeebies, this is probably not the movie for you.

It stars of with Anmol's birthday party. The family consists of her, her father, her stepmother, two stepsisters (hmmm, I wonder why this sounds so familiar) and step uncle.

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What do you think? Are they evil?
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Oh yes, they are. Step-mother and step-uncle want to take over the hotel, which is currently in Anmol's name. Her father has already had two heart attacks, and when he suffers his third, they deprive him of his heart-attack-curing pills and want him to sign papers transferring the hotel in their name. However, he rather dies than deprive his daughter of her rights to the hotel. I am not entirely sure that he couldn't have changed his mind after he recovered from his heart attack, but I suppose, his death was necessary to the story. Anyway, henceforth, Anmol becomes the household maid, and her stepmother and stepsisters are generally evil to her. She grows up to be very pretty as she is now played by Manisha Koirala:

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but the only person who is ever kind to her is an elderly family retainer:
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Then, one day, a new singer, Prem (Rishi Kapoor), arrives at the hotel. Both stepsisters are immediately smitten by him, while his is less than impressed with their behaviour:
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He is, however, very impressed when he spots Anmol hanging out the laundry from his window, and even more so, when she starts to sing. As she is extremely shy and scared of her family they communicate via Moti, Prem's dog:
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Prem decides to sing Anmol's song at the show his is doing that evening. Anmol is very excited but her stepmother doesn't allow her to come. Unfortunately, Prem is missing the last sheet of music for the song, and Anmol manages to get it to him just in time, but at great cost to herself as her uncle burns her feet as punishment.

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Prem learns of this development from the loyal family retainer, who also explains Anmol's situation in general to him. Prem brings her some treatment for her burns, and also takes revenge on her family by pretending to be very inept with a long ladder.

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After some more entertaining and wholesome fun at a market, where Anmol and Prem end up zipped into the same jacket, the two have fully fallen for each other. However, we also learn that her uncle is running a gambling establishment, and owes some gangsters rather a lot of money, including Zafar (Puneet Issar), who has a rather unique fashion sense.

He is not good news:
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Anmol meanwhile asks Moti to bring her a picture of Prem, mostly so she can sing to it. Moti does as he is told but its obviously of the opinion that more is more in this case. Unfortunately, her love for Prem is noticed by her step-sisters who are rather angry and jealous. They forbid Anmol ever to see Prem again, otherwise they would have Prem killed.

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Anmol therefore starts to ignore Prem who is understandably puzzled by this sudden change in behaviour on her part. He ends up making his way down a chimney in oder to finally talk to her. Stuck in this rather uncomfortable position he overhears her talking to her uncle, or rather, her uncle threatening her. Prem ends up with burned feet, but at least he manages to ascertain that Anmol still loves him.

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time:
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Meanwhile, the uncle has a meeting with one of his gangster associates discussing his difficult financial situation. When Anmol serves the drinks, the associate comes up with the brilliant idea of selling her in a brothel as a means of solving all their money problems. Anmol's step-mother is all in favour of the plan.

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The family realises that Prem is somewhat of an obstacle, so they throw him out, and lock Anmol in her room. Prem, however, beseeches his beloved to come to him in a rousing song performed at a somewhat peculiar venue, and in the end she manages to escape (through the chimney).

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However, the two meet with an uncle-engineered accident and Anmol is taken back to the house, while Prem is believed to have fallen down a cliff. Anmol has been emboldened to fight back against her family

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and Prem was rescued by Moti and returns:

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The uncle pretends to agree to let Prem and Anmol get married if Prem brings a large amount of money within the next 14 days. Prem agrees and leaves, leaving Moti behind to look after Anmol.

Don't be sad:
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He will look after you:
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And look, you even get to sing a song with him:
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The uncle mainly agreed to the plan, because he assumes that Prem is poor and will never be able to bring the money on time. However, it turns out that Prem is actually the only son of a rich business man (Saeed Jaffrey) with whom he had a fight as he refused to join the family firm and left home to be a musician. Dad is not impressed when his son comes back to ask for money to marry a girl he has never met.

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Instead, he arranges Prem's engagement with the daughter of an old business partner, but Prem refuses to get engaged against his wishes. Dad then refuses to give Prem any money. This is all rather unfortunate, but help comes from an unexpected sources. Prem's extremely short-term fiance offers him her jewelery to help. As she apparently hadn't been asked about the whole engagement business either one is left to hope that she has found someone else, too.

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Back at Anmol's the plotting relatives still want to sell her but she refuses to leave the house until she has heard from Prem. Luckily for her relatives (and unluckily for me, as I had managed to completely erase any memory of this from my brain) an artist (Johnny Lever) adept at imitating voices arrives at the hotel, and is persuaded to imitate Prem on the phone, asking Anmol to come and meet him. The ploy works, and Anmol is taken away in a car just as Prem is on his way to meet her with the money.

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Anmol is taken to the brothel, but back at her house, the loyal servant overhears her step-mother boasting about her evil plans, and she and her daughters are arrested. However, they don't actually know where Anmol was taken, so Prem, who has arrived in the meantime, has to go back and find her without the help of an address.

Well, that's them taken care of:
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It takes Anmol some time to realise that she has not in fact been taken to Prem's house, but when she does she pleads with the men present to rescue her, but to no avail. Her buyer no other than Zafar.

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She does manage to escape by jumping from a window and hides in the boot of a car. Unfortunately, she managed to pick not the best car for escape purposes:

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Meanwhile, Prem has found the evil uncle, and confronts him. The have a big fight and it all ends like this:
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Due to a series of unfortunate misunderstandings the police believe that Prem died in the fire. This is even more unfortunate, as Anmol has been rescued and taken in buy some very unexpectedly kindly people who try to find Prem for her.

Who are these kindly people? And will Anmol and Prem be ever re-united? What about Moti?


As I said at the beginning, I have a soft spot for this movie. It has all the hallmarks of nineties cheesiness: strange fashion, convoluted plot, much fighting and fake blood, but it is never boring, and while the first half is firmly rooted in the Cinderella-story the second half develops its own dynamic. I wouldn't encourage anybody to rush out and get hold of it, but it it happens to lie around amongst the unwatched Dvds there are worse ways of spending your evening.

6 comments:

memsaabstory said...

This has several things I would love: Saeed Jaffrey, Moti the dog (why are they always named Moti?), Cinderella story morphing into masala craziness. Despite old Rishi romancing young Manisha, I think I may have to look for it!

Bollyviewer said...

O god! Old Rishi! My worse memories of the 90s are of him running round trees in a sweater and beer-belly. I have since discovered earlier and cuter Rishi but I dont think I can take his 90s avatar!

I've always had a soft spot for Gufi Paintal though (the evil Uncle, here) ever since I saw him playing Shakuni in Mahabharata - he was so deliciously evil! :-)

antarra said...

I didn't think Rishi was that bad here. But then, by the time I saw him for the first time, I had heard so many bad things about him, I was kind of expecting the hunchback of Notre Dame.

Anyway, the two lovers spend a lot of time tragically separated, that might help with the enjoyment of the movie.

Daddy's Girl said...

Really enjoyed reading this review. Rishi is quite good in 'Anmol', as you've said, despite the appalling sweaters. He definitely sstill had some of his charm in the 90s, despite lots of evidence to the contrary. I wanted to really dislike this film on principle, but somehow it just wasn't that bad!

antarra said...

Daddy's girl -- Hehe, looks like Rishi's charme even transcends awful jumpers

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Clearly, I've been away from your blog too long! To make amends, I shall now proceed to read it in its entirety- I've missed out on too much! Also added u to my blogroll