Book Review: Amar Akbar Anthony by Siddharth Bhatia

A few years back, Harper COllins India commissioned a Film Series, the first few of which included Jaane  Bhi Do Yaaron, Deewar, etc. These books were envisaged to be a throwback to some of the absolute cult movies of Bollywood from the yesteryears – movies that command a huge fan base, had some expected or unexpected things going in their favor, and a lot of interesting back-stories.

Somewhere, I feel the inspiration for this series must have been Anupama Chopra’s Sholay, a fantastic book that goes behind the making of Sholay and is a delightful read. The book from HC’s Film Series that stays closest to that exercise is Jai Arjun’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.

I picked Amar Akbar Anthony in the hope of killing a couple of hours in a mall, as I waited for a movie show to start. Having read a few pages, I knew that this one doesn’t fit my expectations.

To set the record straight, the expectation I have from this series are – a lot of history, dollops of behind the scenes, a lot of trivia, and the process of making this film, which, by design or by accident, ended up becoming such a craze.

The book starts off well with a few nuggets and anecdotes, some soundbytes from those associated with the film, and some stories. However, it does two things which make it a rather boring read less than halfway through the reading – a) it starts dissecting the social construct around the times the movie was made, and gets into a critique of Manji’s movie making, and b) it wastes a lot of real estate by either repeating the same things over and over again (secular undertones of the movie, for instance), or by narrating scenes from the movie (the entire movie is narrated, and then some scenes are talked about over and over again – like the meeting between Vinood Khanna and Pran, or the mirror scene). I always thought the audience of this book is not someone who has not even seen the movie or has no idea about it, but rather one who is in love with it, and just can’t get enough of it.

After a while, I could start skimming paragraphs after paragraphs because there was hardly anything new. Worse still, it isn’t a heavy book. It almost feels like that research worth two chapters has been extended to fill a book by giving overemphasis to the author’s opinions on Manmohan Desai and his brand of film-making. The book is near pedantic, and seems severely out of water when the author is dissecting a movie and a director who’s absolute control on Box Office was undisputed, and who could be credited with a major part of the cult of Amitabh Bachchan. As Siddharth right points out, AAA was the turning point of Bachchan’s stardom, as it helped him move away from his angry-young-man image. 

The one place where the book deserves its due is in its understanding of Kader Khan’s contribution to the movie as a dialogue writer. Also, some of the incidents, like the filming of the mirror scene in Desai’s absence, or “I am not Satyajt Ray”, do help you recover some of the investment!

However, in summary, I would not recommended this book, as it fails to deliver the promise of the series.

The Greatest Movie Ever Made – rewatched.

And the verdict is- it stays so. And hence, it should not be reviewed.

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I saw it again. On big screen. In 3d. And it didn’t change a damn thing. Sholay is mindblowingly awesome fun. You know every scene, every dialogue, every twist and turn. You know the funny ones and the poignant ones. There are no surprises.

Yet, you long for the Jai-Radha romance once again. Yet, you laugh at Basanti’s yun ki once again. Yet again you fall in love with Gabbar. And Imam Saheb- itna sannata kyun hai bhai. The death of Ahmad still affects. And you still shed a secret tear when Jai dies. You still remember the susaad of veeru, and the haath-nahi-faansi-ka-fandaa-hai wala thakur. You are wont to concede that mehbooba mehbooba is one of the finest item numbers of all times. And Soorma Bhopali and angrejon ke jamaane ka jailor are the most important shortest comic acts of all times. Jaya might have delivered one of the finest silent scenes of all times. And Sambha probabkly is the most iconic sidekick of a villain ever. With just one dialogue in the movie! And you secretly (or vocally) mouth all the dialogues.

What can one say about this movie that hasnt been said before. I spent another 3hours+ trying to find flaws. I managed to find one.

The 3D wasn’t needed.

Movie Review: Sarkar Raj

[Caution – some spoilers ahead!]

So, I watched Sarkar Raj over the weekend. What do I think? I think its a good watch. And I have my reasons for it.

Amitabh Bachchan is out there to prove why he is better than 5-10 great actors put together. The versatility of this man is mind boggling. From being the father who has passed the throne on to his son, to the hapless father mourning over his dead elder son, to the father trying to give that last smile to his dying other son, and to the man who is Sarkar. The way his spine straightens, sleeves fold and the voice resembles the sign of authority that would have defined a Sarkar in the last 15 minutes of the movie is stuff that legendary actors are made of.

I think Abhishek has, after Guru, finally managed to deliver the goods. Its a movie that belongs to him for the first 3 quarters, and he does not disappoint.

Phenomenal Camerawork. I would like to request all readers to watch out for camerawork nuances. My favorites – the poignant discussion scenes between AB and AB Jr., and the shot where Ash and AB Jr are talking about the most difficult decision of his life. The way camera apes a swing with the subtlety of emotions in a doldrum is poetically beautiful. Use of lights, sepia tint, panoramic views (when Somji is delivering his speech)… the movie is littered with classic camerawork. There should be at least 50-odd stills from this movie worth turning into posters.

Good editing. Proof – The movie is just about 2 hours long. Songs are in the background; there isnt much time wasted on digressing romantic stuff and unnecessary politics. The movie maintains a good mix of extremely fast paced events and adds a deliberate touch to them. Its like a painter trying to give a body to city chaos without using loud colors.

The movie has some amazing one-liners- kisi ko maarna jurm hai, magar sahi waqt par maarna.. Rajneeti! Or, paas ke nuksaan ke liye door ka faayda nahi bhoolna chahiye.. Or, Log log hote hain, sambhaal loonga

And this movie looks as good, or even better than Sarkar. Sarkar was good, but was longer, meandering and multiple sub-plots.

Bad thing – Ash. And the fact that RGV picks Ash to be the next heir apparent of Sarkar, before Cheeku comes in.

All in all, I think its a good thriller to watch. And not to miss out on the suspense angle. Its one of the better disguised suspense angles that I have seen in the recent times.

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Dad’s fav from Baghbaan

This.. goes as a tribute to my dad’s love for the movie Baghbaan! I have seen this particular scene more times than probably my all time favorite movies..

The favorite lines from this one remain –

1. “Aur rahi meri baat… to humari chinta to aap kijiyega mat” loosely translated as.. and in sofar as I am concerned.. you don’t need to worry about us

2. “Tum ho to hum hain.. aur hum hain to sab kuch hai.. warna.. kuch bhi nahi” (If you are there, I am… and if we are there, then there is everything.. Else, there is nothing)

Much as I hate to admit it, I actually like this scene a lot! 🙂 And I love you Dad!

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