Friday, 12 December 2008

Amar Shakti (1978)

Really, I should now better than judging a Dvd by its cover. After all, my Jab Jab Phool kile cover sports a still from the " I am sorry about what happened last night"-song from Raja Saab. This one shows the two leads, Shashi Kapoor and Shatrughan Sinha with assorted weapons and cars which evokes a modern day gangster movie. Only the movie is nothing of the sort.

It starts with a group of colourfully clad evil people sneaking up on a house during the night. Inside, two boys are just being put to bed by their mother and a servant,Leela (Indrani Mukherjee) when the mother spots somebody at the window. The family is attacked and the father is killed, but not before we learn that he is the oldest son of the king, and the attacker, Shamsher Singh (Pradeep Kumar), a disloyal servant who wants to take over the kingdom. The mother manages to flee with the older son, but is killed shortly thereafter and the son falls down a cliff. Leela manages to reach her house with the younger son, but she is followed and the house burned to the ground.

Doing the dastardly deed:
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When the ailing king is told that his son and his family has been killed, this proves not quite more than he can bear so a doctor has to help him depart from this life with some poison.

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Shamsher Singh and his brother in law the now Diwan Nahar Singh (Jeevan) are now ready to take over the government. As a first measure they call all the people involved in the murder of the various princes and the king together in the study, and have them killed by sending them down a trap-door beneath a presumably frequently replaced carpet into the den of a tiger. Convinced that all loose ends have been tied up they settle down to live happily ever after.

You could do something to improve your "shocked at the king's death"-look
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However, the two young princes are not actually dead. The older one, Shakti, did fall down a cliff, but the river carried him away and he was picked up by a group of nomads. When the group hears that Shamsher Singh has taken over the government the leave the kingdom, taking the boy with them.

The younger prince is also less dead than Shamsher Singh assumes. His men killed Leela's husband and her son before setting the house on fire, but Leela and the younger prince, Amar, survived and went back to her husband's village where Amar was raised as her son. In contrast to his brother Amar has no memory of his parents or the tragic circumstances of their death.

Time passes and Amar (Shashi Kapoor) grows up to be an excellent swordsman. His village has some trouble paying the taxes so five men are arrested and due to be executed if the villagers don't come up with the money they own. Amar hears that there is going to be a sword-fighting contest at the annual fair with the main contestant being a prince from a neighbouring kingdom (Roopesh Kumar), and the price being the exact sum needed to release the villagers, so he sets off despite his mother's misgivings.

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Shakti (Shatrughan Sinha) also has grown up, and won the heart of one of the girl's, Chamki (Manjula). He is obviously held in high regard by everybody amongst his adopted people apart from the leader's son, Hameera (Ranjeet). There is a large dose of jealousy in this as he also has designs on Chamki. Shakti isn't too keen to go to the fair as he has sworn to enter that particular city only for one purpose, namely revenge, but he does come along in the end.

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Failing to get any subtle hints:
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Several things happen at the fair: There is the requisite "brothers meeting without recognising each other"-scene, Amar sees the princess Sunita (Sulakshana Pandit) for the first time, and is smitten despite the warnings of one of his fellow villagers. He also wins the sword-fight, which enables him to pay his village's taxes and release the villagers.


Amar is smitten by Sunita's beauty:
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and the object of his affection:
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Prince Kunver sporting a rustic shirt and an unfortunate hairdo:
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at first winning that sword-fight didn't look like a good idea:
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Unfortunately, the money Amar just gave to the tax collector is stolen by Hameera, and when he is chased by soldiers he drops the purse and it is picked up by his father who ends up being tortured while Chamki is forced to dance for a group of drunken soldiers. Shakti appears in time to safe both father and daughter but the father succumbs to his injuries shortly thereafter.

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Sniff
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Back in the city, romance blossoms between Amar and Sunita, even if their colour coordination leave something to be desired.

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Amar prevents Sunita's necklace from being stolen which gains him a position in the king's army. He then becomes an extremely loyal officer. This seems slightly odd, given the problems his own village had with the tax collection official (and it is strongly implied that his demands were unreasonable), unless he just assumes that that guy was an exception. Anyway, after some sword kissing

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and proof that pea-green really isn't Shashi's colour:

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Amar is invited by one of Sunita's maids to her part of the palace that evening. He notices that this invitation has been overheard by one of Kunver's men, and knowing that Kunver won't be pleased about this development as he wants to marry the princess himself, turns up later that evening in the disguise of Sunita's music teacher, flirting with her right under the nose of the increasingly confused Kunver. This is one of my all time favourite musical numbers, and of course it isn't on youtube.

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Meanwhile back at the caravan, there are succession problems. While the leader had made it more than clear that he wanted Shakti to succeed him, his son Hameera has other ideas. In order to sort things out, there is a fight over a pit of fire:

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Shakti wins, and proceeds to lead his people in rebellion against the king. However, he doesn't kill his opponent, presumably because we still need an evil person around, but he says it is because he is the deceased leader's son. He then proceeds to lead his people in rebellion against the king.

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News of Amar's new position reaches his village, and, unsurprisingly, his mother is less than impressed with his choice of employer. To be fair, she never told him anything, so has only limited reason to be irritated with him but still

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As his mother sets out to tell Amar that joining the king's army may not have been the best decision he ever made (how could it be, he made it without asking Ma), Amar is put in charge of squashing Shakti's rebellion. After a dramatic confrontation in which Amar narrowly avoids killing Shakti, Shakti is arrested.

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oh my
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Hameera tries to take over control, but Chamki and various other of people are less than impressed.

Shakti is now in chains and Amar gets a promotion which at least means a differently coloured uniform.

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Beth said Sergeant Pepper, I say Austrian-Hungarian empire:
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While Shakti is being freed by an unlikely helper, Amar's mother arrives at the palace to confront her son with his unfortunate choice of employer. Ma is really rather angry, especially as Amar has drunk alcohol during the celebrations for his promotion.

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That is a very good question:
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Anyway, Amar resigns from his position, and shortly afterwards finds himself in the trap-doored study and after a swift fall, in the tiger-infested dungeon below. He manages to make his escape, and comes across some sort of drain:

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which leads directly to Princess Sunita's restrained and simple bathing pool:
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However, Prince Kunver is in hot pursuit, and after a narrow escape, Amar and Sunita try to leave the palace in a cunning disguise:

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Before they can escape, Amar sees Leela being threatened by the Diwan, who recognised her as the deceased king's servant, and after some fighting he manages to escape with his mother and Sunita. As he is about to get some water, who should pop up but the recently escaped Shakti. The two fight and Leela throws herself on Amar just as Shakti is about to kill (or at leas seriously wound him). He is rather startled, as he recognises Leela and after some explanations the brothers are reunited and it is time for a song.

Drama!
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He is who?
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Aaaaaaw:
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Amar then joins Shakti in his rebellion against the king; as does Sunita. Obviously, the king is less than impressed with this development and whith the help of Hameera, who had been arrested for theft, he plots a trap for the rebels.

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Their plan works in so far as that Amar is arrested, and Sunita is taken back to the palace and confronted with her father's demands that she marry prince Kunver.

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Will Amar and his mother be rescued in time? Who will the princess choose? Will there be another big musical number? And what could be more awesome than this:

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The movie is fun. It isn't really a romantic movie, Shakti's and Chamki's relationship is already established when we meet them, and Amar and Sunita get some flirting done, but not all that much. Given that the movie is just over two hours long, and has a lot to tell, this isn't surprising; the focus clearly is on the story of the two brothers. It along fairly well, and there are few plot holes (no misplaced minor characters, for example). I do think it deserves to be watched more widely than it seems to be watched.

5 comments:

memsaabstory said...

Awww, great cast! I think I must see this!

Bollyviewer said...

This was such a fun movie and you've captured all my favorite scenes! The music teacher song was my favorite, too. As to the "Sergeant Pepper/Austrian-Hungarian" costume, I'd say he is trying for Napolean and not quite pulling it off (one needs a pot belly and a balding head for that)! ;-)

antarra said...

Memsaabstory -- Do watch it. I would like to know your take on it.

Bollyviewer -- Napoleon I didn't think of, but maybe you are right.

a ppcc representative said...

My dil just exploded with the Shashi/Shotgun hug pic! I have to go pick up the fragments now.

GOSH, Shashi is beautiful. I will tell ALL THE INTERNETS.

antarra said...

PPCC -- Hopefully you have re-assembled your heart. And you are doing a very good job spreading Shashi-appreciation. But you do know you have competition in the "watching everything Shashi ever made" department. ;-)