I watched it! Thanks to the very few of you in the comments who encouraged me to see it. It’s quite fun, not necessarily good, but fun!
This is a great Bad Girls Month pick! Zeenat Aman is the best part of this movie, and the most unique and interesting part of the film. The rest of it is pretty straight-forward late-70s Amitabh movie. He plays two roles, there are a variety of stunts, and a lot of fancy gadgets. Oh, and a lot of overseas location shooting, that’s a bit unusual. But really, it’s all about Zeenat, she is unlike any other heroine in any other film, and she also controls everything in this film, she is the wild card that changes things.
The movie as a whole is a bit uneven. I’ve been spoiled, coming off of Ramesh Sippy week. The action scenes were occasionally confusing, and I pretty much gave up on the plot. Songs were good, Amitabh was good, Neetu and Zeenat were great, everyone else did their little jobs, but the whole thing didn’t quite gel somehow. I can’t recommend it as a “just generally a good movie”, but I can recommend it as “if you like ridiculous 70s action movies, this is a fun one!” Think Saaho, not Deewar.
But Zeenat! She is playing a role that would normally be a Helen part. Or Bindu. Someone with only a few lines and a sexy song and no personality. But in this movie, they made her character the heroine! They gave motivation and depth and romance to the gangster’s moll. And not the good gangster, not our hero gangster, but a Bad one. It’s so refreshing, this character that is treated as so disposable in every other film gets a happy ending here.
Neetu isn’t bad either, a little more sexually aggressive and free spirited than her character has to be, and also maybe the prettiest I’ve ever seen her look. And there’s no actually evil women in this film at all! No shallow sexy dancer, or evil-for-no-reason gangster lady. The two heroines are just as layered as the two heroes.
Oh right, the two heroes. They are okay. Amitabh has a double role, and it is kind of a kick that they flipped a bit who is the “good” one and who is the “bad” one and even what “good’ and “bad” mean. There is a totally honorable one, and there is a less honorable one, but they are both ultimately “good”.
Don’t watch this movie for the plot, or direction, or internal consistency or any of that. But do watch it for some great crazy fake technology, and really amazing heroines, and A GONDOLA!!!!
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
Okay, I’m not gonna be able to describe all of this real well. Amitabh 1 is spotted by a slightly corrupt hotel owner who hires him to be an inside man gambler at his hotel. Meanwhile, Amitabh 2 is a government agent on the track of a spy ring that is selling state secrets. Amitabh 1’s boss/mentor arranges for him to be engaged to the daughter of his old friend (Neetu) and gives him an airplane ticket to Italy to meet Neetu. Meanwhile, Amitabh 2’s agency is hot on the trail of the secret selling gang and is also going to Italy. ENTER ZEENAT!!!! And the actual plot.
Forget all the rest of the stuff that happened, this is really a mistaken identity/second chance through love movie. The two Amitabh’s end up on the wrong flights, Amitabh 1 is mistaken for the government agent and Zeenat tries to seduce him. And Amitabh 2 ends up meeting Neetu and falling into free innocent happiness for the first time. Amitabh 1 is a bit morally weak, but when he realizes that the gang is actually evil and going against India, he turns into a hero. Amitabh 2 is all about duty, but Neetu teaches him to live and be happy.
I really really love Zeenat in this. She starts out seeming like the usual shallow evil gang member type, she is ordered to sit next to Amitabh on the flight and flirt and trick him into going off with her so he can be kidnapped. And she is cold, actually allows him to almost be killed by the gang. He is angry, gets her alone and physically threatens her. The whole thing is ugly. The movie could have stopped there, Zeenat as the cold evil woman that has a few scenes and disappears to make way for the “real” heroine. But no! She was the “real” heroine inside all along!
Let’s play out what it means when a film stops at this point. For the audience, the lesson is that there are these woman out there who are thoughtlessly sexy, and you can’t trust them. But you can “best” them, you can enjoy their sexiness and then trick them when they try to trick you, and never think about them again. It also means if you see a modern woman on the street, wearing revealing clothes, or being flirtatious with a man, you can’t trust her! She is just trying to trick you so you can be kidnapped or whatever.
But not this film! This film asks “wait, why does she do these things? Is she really heartless? Does she have any moral line?” It starts with the scene where Amitabh threatens her, we stop seeing Zeenat as the powerful equal and are reminded of her as the weaker woman being threatened by a strong man. And then we see her continue to work with Amitabh, after the confrontation, and get to know him better. Finally the turning point, she goes to Amitabh and gives him back his passport and tells him that the gang is planning to sell a secret weapon from India. She’s good! She’s really really good!
Sort of. She doesn’t have a big backstory for why she is part of the gang, she just does what her boss (Prem Chopra) tells her like any other goon. But she has a line, and she wasn’t the one making the decisions all along, just following orders. Once she makes her choice, she is all in, risks her life, does whatever is necessary. And she’s the wild card! In the end, it is her choices, her ability to trick the gang into thinking she is still working with them, that make it all come out all right.
I guess that goes back to her being the “bad” woman too. Prem Chopra is so used to thinking of her as an object, a weapon he can send after a man, he has stopped thinking of her as an independent thinking person. Amitabh 1 saw that in her, and so he trusts her to act independently from him, and be loyal, and do what needs doing, and she does! By the end of the film, when Amitabh 2’s sister and Neetu and Neetu’s Dad are all trapped in a laser cage (really, this is a very odd movie) it is Zeenat who is still free and can save them.
Zeenat is the best bit, but the two Amitabh’s are kind of interesting too. Amitabh 2 goes along with pretending to be Amitabh 1 with Neetu in an attempt to learn more about the man. But Amitabh 1 was pretending to be his boss’s son (the son had in fact died years earlier, but his boss looked at Amitabh 1 as a son), so Amitabh 2 didn’t really learn about him. It wasn’t until hours later that he he discovered he and Amitabh 1 were brothers, separated by partition. But here’s the funny thing! Amitabh 1, the gangster and criminal, was the brother who stayed with the family! He has a sister and everything. It was Amitabh 2 who was lost and alone. Another interesting statement, the noble “good” one is maybe only good because he didn’t have anyone in his life to complicate things. And he sure was quick to enjoy that little vacation with Neetu once he had the chance. Meanwhile Amitabh 1 was always at heart decent and sure of himself, just had to do some bad things to help his family.
Mostly though it is all about Zeenat. That bad woman with two scenes who suddenly is elevated to the status of “heroine”.