The family revenge drama released in 1986 to great success – it was a genre successfully played by Amitabh for years; the makeover only required him to play an angry old man along with the traditional role of an angry young man.
It was a remake of a successful Tamil movie, ‘Oru Kaidhiyin Diary’ (A Prisoner’s Diary) starring Kamal Haasan. Story, screenplay and direction were top class and the hindi cine goers got a second flavor of Tamil ace filmmaker, K Bhagyaraj, after the successful,’Woh Saat Din’.
The basics of the story are quite run of a mill – it starts with Amitabh being ruined when he is an ordinary grassroot political party worker. The melodrama tops as his leader betrays his trust and lusts for his wife. Unable to sustain the humiliation she commits suicide and Amitabh is sentenced to life imprisonment as a Doctor and Police Inspector, connive with the political boss to blame him for the death. Amitabh leaves behind a toddler with his best friend, Anupam Kher, and vows to avenge the injustice.
The rest of the plot is pure filmi stuff but it does not insult your intelligence as a viewer. The challenges are neatly put and overcome with finesse. The toddler grows up to become a police officer and is at odds with his own father though he doesn’t know about his past. Romance is flicked in as well in a typical formulaic tradition. The elder B romances Jaya Prada in a brief cameo while the younger version is enamored by Sridevi. Songs are average but hummable – think one number still rings familiar to the minds of many old fans i.e. ‘Gori Ka Saajan, Saajan Ki Gori…’.
The story scores in the sober manner in which it handles the ‘Father-Son’ relationship. They are on opposite sides of the legal divide but are justified to hold their own points of view. It is all the more interesting that they acknowledge their respective positions and show respect for each other’s priorities.
Intelligence is the byword on the plotting as well – Big B needs to avenge the injustice done to him by killing three people. While one cannot hold it as an ideal solution, at least it is not done in a ham-headed way. There is meticulous planning and often last-minute hurdles crop up. Just when one is wondering on what will happen next, the senior B comes up with the answer. Of course in such movies, it is a given that the senior B would succeed in his plans. Yet thankfully our curiosity is not killed till the very end and when you think of it, the plotting improves as the story progresses. The best is reserved for the very dying moments of the movie.
Bhagyaraj didn’t quite foray much into Hindi cinema even after the success of this movie – he ended up focussing on Tamil films to be his mainstay. His stories were popular enough to inspire many of his movies to be remade in various languages including Hindi. But it terms of commercial success I guess the two movies that stood out were ‘Woh Saat Din’ and ‘Aakhree Raasta’.
His philosophy was something that should inspire many young filmmakers – he was always keen on delivering the goods commercially and had no qualms about employing the stock elements of a masala story. Where he really stepped in to make a difference was the handling of the story and screenplay. Quite often he would do an amazing play with words and engage our attention. He always pepped up his stories with humour and would then back it up with a good climax. More often than not, he got the formula mix right and that meant ringing cash registers at the theatres.