Monday, April 07, 2008

The best of Amitabh: Don

Joules recently asked which were the top Amitabh movies. I've grown up watching a lot of them, but none comes close to this one, which I wrote about a while ago for DC and am reproducing here.

Every birthday of mine the family gets together and sits around a TV. We pop a DVD in and watch. It’s always a Hindi movie. In fact, it’s the same movie each time. It’s the first one I went back for repeat viewings as a little boy and the most enduring Bollymovie in my life: Don. Not the new Shahrukh Khan starrer, but Amitabh Bachchan’s 1978 thriller Don. In fact, I love Don so much I absolutely adored even the shaky remake.

There are several reasons I like Don so much.

The first one is that Amitabh Bachchan gets to play a badass. Not just any badass – but one who kills for purpose and mixes it with pleasure. He’s ruthless, despicable, unpredictable and magically avoids being mired in the swamp of Bollyvillian templates. He kills inventively (if somewhat unbelievably).

Early on, one of his gang members turns coat and is running away to a life free of crime. No one leaves the Don of course. Don shows up at his doorstep with the intent to kill plainly in view. The trapped man runs – out of his room, onto the streets and hails a cab. The cab takes off but stops suddenly and the driver turns. It’s Don! As a young boy, I remember being jolted out of my seat. How did he do it?

Second, it’s got Zeenat Aman who plays Roma. And if you haven’t watched Zeenie-baby – this is the movie to watch. She’s absolutely dazzling here. Speaking in clipped tones (“Whatt ddo yyou mmean!”), moving way too much like a model and looking too cute for words. She’s surly-gorgeous (she has an axe to grind with Don and has infiltrated his group) and resourceful (she finds Don when the entire Mumbai police force can’t). And best of all, she gets to kick some serious tush.

Speaking of which, another reason to love Don is the madcap, graveyard fight sequence at the climax. Vijay (Amitabh has a double role here), Roma and Jasjit (Pran) fight Narang and his gang with kicks, tumbles, karate chops, kushti and kabaddi. At one point, Jasjit – who has a pronounced limp from an old injury – jumps on a high bar and does a gymnastic routine to send opponents flying around him. There is genius in all of this – you just have to look hard for it.

Wait! There’s more to love! A terrific dance routine from that criminally unacknowledged Bollywood goddess – Helen. She plays Kamini who tries to stall Don by seducing him. And she goes so full tilt with her stuff that she appears to be having far too much fun for a woman who is trying to get in bed with her husband’s murderer. Fascination abounds!

Finally, there is Khaike Paan Banaras Waala. It’s a song about spicy women, love, passion, intoxication, rural displacement, betrayal and a very special river in India.

Also:

48 comments:

megan said...

Oh I looooove Don - old one.. I didn't like the new one at all, in fact i couldn't even last more than 45 mins of it.. with retro filter on, movies are so much better, you don't cringe at every single cheesey moments because it somehow doesn't look cheesy.. but the new one you kinda felt like been there seen that, noe what i'm sayin..

my favorite Big B movie of all time is Muqddar Ka Sikander then Don then comes the others. I need to somehow watch them all, i have only seen like 5 or 6 of them ..

i love watching 80's/70's/60's movies whenever they're on TV.. they're so entertaining.. I hate hate hate 90's movies because i actually remember the 90's and it sucked majorly in terms of desi stuff.. in fact i hated everything desi until a few years ago..

m said...

my favorite old school actresses are

zeenat aman, parveen babi, Mumtaz and the girl who was in Ram teri ganga meri.. those girls FTW!!

Aspi said...

That was Mandakini - never did see a movie of hers.

Anonymous said...

Aspi,
good description of why you like Don. For me, I still like Amitabh best in movies where he played the geek - Chupke Chupke for one.

Bitterlemons

meena said...

Good nostalgia trip Aspi, Zanjeer was the movie for me. Nobody could brood like Amitabh could. I caught yaadon ki baraat on Sony over the weekend (how cute was that movie!) and that Zeenie baby was certainly something.

Joules said...

Megan, completely agree with you on the 90s being the worse era for hindi movies. Also SRK playing Vijay was so hammy. The story of the second movie though was more true to the tagline 'Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin namumkin hai'

Now on the old Don, yup definitely one of the more gritty stories coming from that time. Javed Akhtar had talked about this movie in one of the Indian Idol's and he said this movie almost did'nt get made. Chandra Barot the director was in a financial bind and to help him out the whole team came together asked Javed if he had a story that was somewhat complete but no one had bought(infact the story did'nt even have a name and they named it Don after the central character) and most of the major players worked in it for free. Their hope was to make enough money so the director could recuperate his losses.

Little did Barot know that this would be Amitabh's fourth mega blockbuster in that year. (1978 - Muqaddar ka sikandar, trishul and Kasme Vaade)

Another trivia Barot did not make any movies after this and tried to do an unsuccessful return in 1991.

Joules said...

Zeenie baby today

http://www.indiafm.com/stills/partiesnevents/Pantaloons_Femina_Miss_India_2008/still38889.html

Aspi said...

She looks good, no? I used to even like the whole one small eye, one big eye thing.

girlie girl said...

Don is one of my favorite movies (old one, that is)...didnt even bother watching the new one. Somehow, I think the new one will ruin the old one for me so i'm staying away!! Up until a few years ago, I used to be so confused between Zeenat Amaan and Paveen Babi...My altime favorite AB movie has to be Amar, Akbar, Anthony!!

Pitu said...

'Khaike paan' rocks big time. The new Don was so-so but I loved 'Aaj Ki raat'. Priyanka ain't no Zeenie baby and well, Isha was just sad. Also, Bebo looked hefty in that ugly bling dress in 'Yeh mera dil'. I am waiting for Farhan to repeat his DCH magic..

Pitu said...

Bah Mandakini! Just remembered an embarrassing incident from New Yr's. A group of us friends were at Pazzo's and a friend's (rather wasted) friend said to me "You know, you remind me of this Hindi film heroine". I was thinking he'll say Mads or Sri or Juhi at the very least and he goes "I know! You look EXACTLY like Mandakini". I almost spilled my champagne on his takla head :-p

Amrita said...

Aspi - you've never seen Mandakini in action? No Ram Teri Ganga Maili? What were you doing when all the other boys were renting it to see her boobies? tsk tsk.

Also, Zeenie's wonky eyes come courtesy Hrithik's pop-in-law, Sanjay Khan. He and Zeenie had a flaming affair, including a short lived marriage, that didnt end well and when he and his wife ran into her at some filmi party soon after the two of them beat her up. Him, more viciously than her, resulting in a permanently damaged eyelid. She had a detached something in her eye and was all bloodied and in pain for months afterward. For a while she was afraid she'd lose sight in that one eye. Shobha De once wrote about her and Zeenie grabbing a bottle of champagne and going for a ride the next day and how she couldn't look at Zeenie's face coz it was so seriously messed up. Oh, and when she was being beaten up in public in front of everyone? Nobody lifted a hand to help her. There is a reason why De hates Bollywood so much. And why Sanjay Khan makes me want to puke.

Anyhoo, Pitu - LOL! well she was considered pretty hot so maybe that was a compliment. Or else you look like a gangster's moll, which is also a compliment really :D

Aspi said...

Yikes, Zeenat getting beaten by both major Khans in her life (and from what I heard her son joined the party too later in life) is so hugely painful that I try not to think about it.

Mandakini I was never sure about. It might be her or it might be Raj Kapoor talking about her nudeness in this weird sort of way that turned me off. Not sure which.

Pitu said...

Wait that was courtesy Tipu Sultan Khan? I thought that was Mazhar Khan who did it. And Zarine aided hubby? Wow, shocking! They come across as such normal people :-/ Sanjay Khan's multiple affairs are known tho. Lucky Suzanne, hooked up with a much much nicer guy than her mom did :-p

Mandakini was beautiful but even if she looked like Huma Khan, she'd get lots of attention, what with the ahem, 'gals' on show. She was Dawood's moll, right? Guess who had been finalized for that role before Mandy? Kavita Kapoor! (yes, of 'Saans' fame)

megan said...

fark that was one sad story, in fact it infuriates me, i hope that sanjay khan gets prostate cancer and dies a slow, horrible and majorly painful death.. his wife too

i always knew something wasn't right about that family.. Duggu what sort of people have you associated yourself with

I have heard stories about Suzanne being a major grade A bitch too, i mean she doesn't even have any achievements of her own to justify her diva like behavior. Droopy eyed albino ratface..

megan said...

also bollywood is full of hypocrites, they support wife beaters, animal poachers, drunk drivers and put them on a pedestal just because of their so called "power"..

i wish i was there to kick that sanjay khan in the balls provided he has any..

my mom told us stories of when she was living in Shimla as a kid, her neighbor used to come home and beat up his wife every night and sometimes drag her by her hair and the sons used to join their dad and beat up the mom. no one intervened cuz it was their "family matter".

My mom was like after you see all that you never wanna marry a desi guy.. too effin right!!

Aspi said...

Nasty stuff happened to both the Khans in Zeenat's life after she fell out with them. Sanjay got burned on the sets of that disastrous TV serial. And Mazhar died of kidney failure.

Whats a unfair about the Sanjay incident was how ostracized Zeenat got after that episode and how she hasn't made much headway in Bollywood. She always was a bit of an outsider and she made some bad choices but someone like her should have had a much better career.

I'm glad she isn't doing reality TV show - although I'd most certainly watch :)

pitu said...

Wasn't she in Boom? *shudder shudder*
As for karma, when's payback time for Sallumiya? Driving over footpath dwellers, abusing his girlfriends, doing shor sharaba at 3am, poaching deer etc etc

Anonymous said...

I was once curious to find out what kind of stuff Shobha De wrote and picked up one of her books. The protagonist was an actress who got beaten up by a man she had an affair with and his wife, at a party. I had no clue this was taken from Zeenat Aman's life. Wow. (Some) Men suck.
-H&R

Aspi said...

From what I've heard Shobha De lets Bollywood write all her novels.

Pitu said...

Lots of ppl probably hate her!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, that took some gloss off Hrithik's ILs! didn't know that story at all...poor Zeenie. Noone deserves that.

I am seriously disturbed - actually felt that the Khans were somewhat "normal" (or as normal as the ultra-rich like them can be anyway).

M

Anonymous said...

Whoops - sorry, last comment by "M" was me, Bitterlemons..forgot which blog I was commenting on.

Bitterlemons

girlie girl said...

Yeah, reading about that makes me absolutely sick! I've always wondered when people do things that are cruel and outrageous...arent they afraid of a thing called Karma?? I'm scared of Karma when I do something small like lie to someone about stupid stuff...I guess being famous and all, you think nothing can hurt you, including the inevitable Karma!! Little do they know...it'll find a way to come back and bite you in the ass!!

girlie girl said...

btw, does anyone have the name of that book by Shobha De based on Zeenie??

Amrita said...

Yeah the only thing that makes me feel better about how they all treated Zeenie is that they eventually got theirs. And this is also the reason I can never really hate on Aishwarya for her offscreen behavior because she was a hair's breadth away from being trashed the same as Zeenie.

GG - I do know that book, Starry Nights. It's the only De book I've ever read and boy! was I sorry! it's some of the worst writing I've ever read in my life. I read it in high school coz everyone told me it had these "amazing" naughty bits and what it was, was bad soft porn. I mean, Anne Rice wrote better porn than that is how bad it is.
However, here's the wiki page for it - it's actually better than reading the whole book and it takes five minutes. Enjoy!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starry_Nights

Oh, and another fun fact: De's predecessor in Bollywood gossip was a woman named Devyani. She once made the mistake of writing gossip about Dharmendra - and he slapped her and chased her at some film function. Esha gets her jahilyat naturally.

Pitu said...

lol jahiliyat! Esha slapped Amrita Rao right, at some point?

Joules said...

ok, this topic is getting seriously stressful. Why do women hook up with guys like this?

For example, why is Katrina with Salman? Has she not heard his past?

Amrita said...

Pitu - well seriously! :D And yup she did that and was very proud of it, the dumb cluck.

Joules - I don't know! What is with these people? And how come they never call the police? I understand its a painful subject and people dont wish to address it straight on a lot of times but if my career were about to be flushed down the toilet for being victimised, I'd want to take the aggressor with me.

Pitu said...

But Amrita, in Kat's case, isn't Sallumiya the one who really got her all those movies? I mean, she has no Bolly connections, speaks horrid Hindi and can't act at all. So maybe she tolerates his dumbass behavior hoping it will get her into the big league and THEN she'll dump him. That's my theory anyway.

Aspi said...

I remember Devyani Chaubal. Such was their love for trashing people - I consider them to be the mothers of the gossip industry in Bollywood. Unlike them though I'm not mired in the industry - a fortunate thing.

Whenever I see Katrina's songs I get the feeling she is a really nice type of person. I could be wrong. Also Salman seems to have mellowed out since hanging out with her. I've also seen his artwork (which happened before Kat) and it has a genuine sense of identity. In other words, Sallu would work really well in a catalog - he seems to be a serious surrealist.

Now on to Esha - what is wrong with her hair? The only time it is interesting is when she does that Farah Fawcett like front flip - then it becomes amusing.

Pitu said...

My friend remarked rather cattily that Esha minus the male chromosome is Dharam, and Kareena minus the male chromosome is Randhir :-D

Aspi said...

Exactly my thoughts when I first saw them. For a while I even thought Karishma was Randhir in drag - but then her dress sense improved and I figured it couldn't be Randhir.

Pitu said...

Wait, I meant Dharam minus the male chromo is Esha and Randhir minus the male chromo...

Amrita said...

Pitu - AHAHAHA!! I think I prefer it the other way around. I've always thought Randhir looked more girly than Babita.

I'm actually with Aspi about Katrina basically being a nice person. She also started dating him when she was 19 or something and girls can be awfully silly about their romantic choices at that age, esp when it comes to dating older, more powerful men old enough to be their father.

Otoh she seems to have kept her eye on the main goal - she's always very upfront about wanting to succeed so she can make enough money to support her family. There's no "I act because it is a passion" stuff from her. Good thing too, considering her chops.

As for Salman, much as I hate to say it, there is a good side to him from what people who know him personally say. I know at least one person, a journalist, who knows him and his family in some way and says he's actually a nice bloke when he isnt beating up or running over people or killing endangered animals and has been a help to a whole bunch of people. So I guess she tapped that? Or else she really is on the make and doesn't give a damn. depends on how much you dislike the Khan I guess. :)

m said...

well i heard from a "reliable" source that Salman repeatedly cheats on Katrina. The relationship is on again and off again apparently and yet Katrina puts up with it.

She always came across as bitchy to me with a sweet smile.

She was on Miss India judges over the weekend and had this look about her.

BTW the whole show made me cringe like no tomorrow.

m said...

OMG i just read that wiki page on starry nights

"the gangster that controls most of the Mumbai underworld, then takes an interest in Aasha Rani and she becomes his lover and restarts her career under his protection. She then has an affair with Linda, a gossip columnist for Showbiz magazine and Abhijit Mehra, the son of an industrialist, who is about to be married. Linda advises her to go to the south and do an art film, which she does, where she tries to seduce the director only to find that he is impotent. "

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHA!!!!!!

I haven't laughed this hard at my macbook screen for months!!!!

i ahven't even finished reading it yet

megan said...

hahahahah Akshay Arora has AIDS because of his manwhore-ness!! Loving it.. would have been more dramatic if "little Akshay" had actually got gangrene because of extreme overuse and fell off!!

"She flies back to New Zealand and meets a man called Gopalakrishnan who she has sex with in the bathroom of the plane."

Somehow someone whose name is Gopalakrishnan sounds like someone with a moustache and hairy back and a pot belly.. those toilets in a plane are tiny!!

"At a party, Aasha notices Gopalakrishnan, the man she had sex with on the flight to London. He turns out to be an arms dealer."

I am literally twitching on the floor laughing!! omfg! Oh Gopalakrishnan - use some of that arms dealing money to buy yourself a new moniker bb.. the name sounds like someone whose a manager at 711not an arms dealer

girlie girl said...

Thanks for the link Amrita...I'm glad i didnt waste my time reading the book!! Megan's right, this sh*t's hillarious!! If it was acceptable for me to be rolling around on the floor laughing at work, i would do it right now!! LMAO!!

On the topic of Esha, has anyone seen the movie Apna Sapna money moeny...the movie sucks but in the movie when Ritesh Deshmukh dresses up as a girl, he looks exactly like Esha deol! I"m not kidding, i thought it was her for a second!! I've always thought I was the only one who thought of her as a bit man-ish...i'm glad i'm not alone!!

Aspi said...

All the stories I hear - most celebrities cheat on their relationships. They only get into trouble when they have it out with someone semi-famous. I once read the autobiography of Jenna Jameson (terrific book BTW) and you get this amazing flavor for how Hollywood parties end.

Whats really funny about Shobha De is that she couldn't possibly have made all this stuff up. So you have to imagine it all went down at some time.

Joules said...

Me thinks a lot of these stories are made up by the press. Remember the Bips-Saif romance during the making of Race or the Shahid-Vidya story. In these days of camera, cell phones, paparazzi, you think you would be seeing lots of pics of celebs romancing other celebs.

One actor that I have always admired for his faithfulness to his wife and home is SRK (and Will Smith in Hollywood). I expect the same from Abhi-Aish marriage as they both come from some what stable homes.

Pitu said...

Agreed with you regarding SRK and Will Smith. Don't agree regarding the Bachchan family itself. Big B's affairs are legion. Rekha and Parveen Bhabi being the most notorious..

Mind Rush said...

Well, I am just reading on and on in fascination...There's a lot left to be desired about the state of my knowledge re: Bollywood.

Who are all these people in real life that De refers to?

Mind Rush said...

About domestic violence...I had once heard that men batter women because they can do it and get away with it. There is very little real recourse in India.
Public opinion is abyssmal. Most people incl. cops do not want to interfere in a marital relationship.

Things will stay the same until public opinion changes.

Pitu said...

Mind Rush: Have you seen 'Provoked'? It's rly quite good and Ash whom I ordinarily cannot stand did a really commendable job. It's a testament to Naveen Andrews' acting that you'll really really hate him. I personally think Kiranjit Ahluwalia had a lot of guts and I wish more women would learn from her!

Amrita said...

Mind Rush - dont get me started on domestic violence and India! I get so mad! I just saw this old Akshay Kumar - Mamta Kulkarni movie in which he rapes her coz she's his (uppity) wife, threatens to beat her up if she doesnt do exactly as she's told and then she falls in love with him because he's her husband. ARGH!

Aspi said...

To manage this kind of anger I recommend a Pedro Almodovar sisterhood movie like Volver - where all the men are neech and are dealt with summarily. That reminds me to write something about it.

Anonymous said...

domestic violence leads to nightmares...for the rest of your life:(