Monday 24 November 2008

Naam o Nishan (1987)

There are many things one can say about Naam o Nishan, but one can't say that there is a lack of plot. Lots of stuff happens. Some of it only makes a limited amount of sense.

We start with a black clad dacoit, Jarnail Singh (Kader Khan) and his men robbing a village. Jarnail may have no qualms about taking other people's money and jewellery, but he does not approve on one of his men Zorowar (Suresh Oberoi) trying to rape a girl. He forces him to apologise which he does extremely grudgingly.


For some reason Jarnail has an up-right wife, Champa (Nirupa Roy) whose greatest wish is that her son will grow up to be a police inspector. Currently the chances of this going to happen are not looking good.

The not so happy couple

However, Zorowar, still angry with Jarnail for what he sees as his humiliation, abducts their son Suraj. However, he is noticed by the police and while he manages to escape, Suraj ends up in the care of Inspector Sangram Singh (Shashi Kapoor). When Jarnail comes to retrieve his son, the Inspector lets him go, because he came as a father and not as a dacoit. His supiriors aren't too impressed with this decision (neither am I, to be honest) and he is told to arrest Jarnail as soon as possible.

In the following big shoot-out between the dacoits and the police, Champa is killed by Zorowar who is then seen falling down a cliff. With her last breath she implores Jarnail to meant his ways. While he manages to escape again, he seen gives himself up to Inspector Sangram, and entrusts him with the bringing up of his son.


Then we have the titles.


And then it is twenty years later and Suraj has grown up into Sanjay Dutt, and Jarnail has grown an amazing mop of hair. Jarnail is released from prison just in time to watch Suraj's graduation ceremony.

The proud father I

The proud father II

Suraj is then posted to a police station which sports an empty incident book. Not because the inhabitants are terribly law-abiding but because they are too terrified to report anything to the police. I would be terrified too, if that was may local goonda:


Under all the hair, that is actually Zorowar who survived his fall down the cliff and now goes by the name of Jabhar. We get to know him better during a dance number, though I have to say his villain's lair seems to be the economy version.


The outdoor facilities are quite impressive though.


We also meet Vanisha and her family. Unfortunately, her bother in law works for Zorowar and is arrested by Suraj. His wife tries to convince him to come clean to the police but he won't do it. His wife is killed by Zorowar and when he tries to avenge her, he is killed in such a fashion as to frame Inspector Suraj, who has not pleased Zorowar with his drive for improved law enforcement. Zorowar isn't used to behaviour like this from a police officer.

Vanisha and her family:

This could be dangerous:

Are you all right down there:

However, during the trial a young woman comes forward and provides photographic evidence that Suraj didn't commit the murder. Her father is less than impressed with her antagonizing Zorowar in this manner, but Suraj accepts her as his sister and the father is somewhat mollified.

Suraj and Vanisha meet and take an instant dislike to each other, tipping experienced viewers of to the fact that they will be madly in love with each other in the next half hour or so. They end up having to spend the night in a village, where they perform a song. The villagers are amazingly well equipped for this kind of impromptu performance.

I am starting to feel all seasonal

Becherovka in the indian middle of nowhere.


Back home, Zorowar threatens Vanisha, or rather her little nephew who is looked after his parents' death. He wants her to spy on Suraj for him.

The young woman who helped Suraj in court is killed shortly afterwards, as she was caught taking incriminating pictures of Zorowar and one of his associates. Suraj arrives just in time to retrieve the roll of film she clasps. After this loose end has been tidied up, her father also disappears from the movie.


It was nice of you to be in this movie. You are now no longer required.

Meanwhile, Jarnail is released from prison. (I thought he had been released earlier, but apparently not). He is met by Inspector Sangram, who is going to take him home and introduce him to his family as his brother. Suraj doesn't know who Jarnail really is and he seems to be completely unaware that he isn't Sangram's song. Nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan, could it?

My first thought wasn't "ooh, arty shot", but "oh dear, what happened to the disk?"

Family reunion, sort of:

Well things take a completely unexpected turn for the worse as the two men are watched by Zorowar who happens to be passing by.

After another song shared by Vanisha and Suraj, he is badly injured in a fight with Zorowar's henchemen. Jarnail wants to take revenge but is stopped by Suraj's mom who points out that people might ask why he wanted to avenge Suraj, and Suraj would not be able to cope with the truth.

We move on to an engagement party. Suraj's sister is getting engaged to a judge's son. Unfortunately, the judge is the one who sentenced Jarnail and he recognises him. Offended at Sangram's claiming a close relation to the man he recognises as a convicted criminal, the judge insists on breaking up the engagement. Suraj is also not entirely happy with his fathers decision.



That night, Zorowar kills one of his henchmen and frames Jarnail for the murder; threatening to reveil Suraj's true identity if he doesn't play along. Jarnail plays along with this, but Sangram finally breaks down and tells Suraj who Jarnail really is. Suraj takes the news surprisingly well, given how often we have been told that he wouldn't be able to bear the truth.


Will he be reunited with his real father? Will Jarnail be able to proove his innocence? Will there be another exciting fight scene or two? Will Zorowar get a haircut, be brought to justice or both?

It is an okay movie, but not much more. There are several big plot holes, apart from mysteriously disappearing minor characters, the most annoying to me that Suraj doesn't remember his parents. He seems to be old enough to do so, and their is no illness or injury to explain this complete lack of memory. Also, while I like both Amrita Singh and Sanjay Dutt, I am not to keen on the two as a couple. Amrita Singh always seems very lady-like to me and this doesn't work very well with a male counterpart who is a boyish as Sanjay is here.

Shashi is woefully underused but he does what little he has to do well and Kader is very effective. I like him a lot when he isn't trying to be funny. It is a bit strange seeing the two of them play characters of the same generation after seeing Kader play characters older than Shashi a lot recently, but it fits.

And the less said about whatever has taken up residence on Suresh Oberoi's head the better.

Finally, I have seen this somewhere else, but I can't remember where. Anybody able to help?


Bollyviewer said...

rofl at "whatever has taken up residence on Suresh Oberoi's head" and "villain's lair seems to be the economy version."

Poor Suresh Oberoi has a bad-hair day throughout the movie and then doesnt even get a decent lair to compensate!

I caught parts of it on youtube a while back but didnt feel upto watching the whole thing. But now that your review shows how much fun it could be, will try to get hold of it again!

Anonymous said...

I need to read this again tomorrow when I haven't had three glasses of wine.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Shashi- all benevolent and adorable- so cute - as was Sunjay:) This was Amrita's bad period though- she just so needs help!

Rum said...

Suresh Oberoi and men in moustaches! Must be the movie for me, though Sanjay's looks pretty fugly and taped on,but I love Shashi's older roles!

antarra said...

Bollyviewer -- It is a fun movie, not necessarily good, but entertaining to watch.

Memsaab -- This movie may actually be more enjoyable when watched after three glasses of wine.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahla -- The two were very sweet, but I could have done with more Shashi.

Rum -- If you are fond of the starved caterpillar type of moustache this certainly is the movie for you.

Beth Loves Bollywood said...

Shashi looks adoooooorable, but I can't follow the events at all! I will take pleasant refuge in your screen captures. Oh, that sideways jail - I think you're right on with your first reaction to that :)

That bottom set looks familiar to me too, but I have no idea why. If Memsaab doesn't recognize it, I'm sure I don't know it either.

B said...

Good post.
There was so much nonsense happening in that plot..and its quite commendable that u could take notes of this hotch potch..But I agree it shud have been entertaining to see typical bollywood drama of the 80's

antarra said...

As for following the plot: Years of practice and an enjoyment of unpicking convoluted stories.

Beth -- I really thought I had made things easier to follow, especially by leaving out all the name changes people go through. Obviously, I need to try harder.

B -- Solid 80s entertainment it is, even if some of the entertainment it provides is unintentional