Sunday, May 06, 2012

Mahaan (1983)

1983 was arguably the peak of Amitabh Bachchan's (super)stardom and I can just hear the powers that be in Bollywood thinking out loud as to what he needed to do to get even BIGGER than what he had been for the past decade. Cast him with the top leading lady (or two) in Bollywood? Been there done that. Have him serve as playback singer for himself? Done as well but maybe a new spin on that might be good. A double role? Amitabh was a master at that, having done it eight times already - most notably in Don. Well how about all three of those previous things but go to the proverbial next level on all of them? Cast him with three of the top leading ladies of Bollywood including one from it's Evergreen days with Waheeda Rehman, Zeenat Aman and my personal fave Parveen Babi. Let him sing a song but do a slow version of one that was sung earlier in the movie by Kishore Kumar. And finally - double roles be damned - let's have him in an unprecedented (and yet to be duplicated in Bollywood) triple role therefore ensuring that he be in every scene of the movie.
The plot of course is nonsensical and having so many tasty ingredients in it makes it almost too rich for someone not a true Bollywood or Amitabh Bachchan fan (plot summary here). The real reason to see this movie of course is to see the Big B playing three very different characters and doing a surprisingly good job at all of them. The 'aspiring actor' Amitabh character is the most fun to watch and has some great comedic scenes although they are absurd even by Bollywood standards. Most importantly however,in our opinion this movie marked the end of Amitabh's golden era. The notable exception being 'Sharaabi' the following year for which he received a nomination for a Filmfare Best Actor award. The injury on the set of 'Coolie', questionable movie choices and the great equalizer of age started his inevitable decline but his was a flame that refused to be extinguished. After realizing that he could no longer do the leading man roles that his audiences expected from him, he has made a graceful transition into more mature roles. 'Main Azaad Hoon' and 'Khuda Gawah' were the standout beginnings in that era with 'Mohabattein' putting the finishing touches on it. But for those fans of Amitabh of yesteryear and Bollywood masala at it's zaniest I would heartily recommend 'Mahaan' as one of that era's swansong films. The bonus video for today is Yeh Din To Aata Hai sung by the music composer and his real life wife - R.D. Burman and Asha Bhonsle. The serious Amitabh (a police inspector) and Parveen Babi do the song justice as you can see in the video above. Today's song is a gorgeous love song sung by the first Amitabh character we see in the movie,i.e. the father of the twin Amitabh progeny. Jidhar Dekhoon is sung by Kishore Kumar and the video below shows Amitabh with Waheeda Rehman (actually six years his senior) but who looks just as ravishing as the other two heroines in the movie. Pick your favorite (if you can) - there are lots of songs (and Amitabhs) to choose from in this Bollywood classic...