what this movie needs is some foreshadowing: Muqaddar Ka Sikandar

One afternoon in Kovalam, I stumbled across a veeeery intense scene with the Big B and my FPMFIL (that's fake-pretend movie father-in-law - keep up, will you?). What in the name of thunderclaps was this drama overload, I wondered? So I called up one of my filmy informants, who told me (in an impressively short amount of time, I might add - as soon as I said "Amitabh and Vinod Khanna," he knew) it was Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.

Frivolity first: who is the sexier father-son pair: Amitabh and Abhishek, or Vinod and Akshaye (or Rahul, let's not forget Rahul)? Seriously, that's a tough call. Votes welcome. This was my first Vinod Khanna movie and I thought he was really cool and fun to watch, like he was having a good time with his role and just generally enjoying himself - and totally owning his tight white pants.

Muqaddar Ka Sikandar gets the prize for First Movie to Show the Gateway of India since Beth Saw It Herself, and that was very satisfying in a way I can't quite explain. In fact, this is the first movie I've seen to feature footage of any part of India that I got to visit (36 China Town didn't show anything I recognized except perhaps the airport in Mumbai, but I wasn't sure, and frankly all the airports began to blur together, except Trivandrum's, which had light-up palm trees in the waiting area). So it had that extra excitement level of "I really truly do recognize that and not just because I've seen it in a movie! I was there! I sat there one lovely evening, staring at the sea and feeling really happy!" Other little details felt a lot more real, too, now that I know more about them. I understood "nimbu pani" in dialogue and I can even picture it, taste it. Sikander's living room very much reminds me of a Kolkata apartment I visited. Things like that. It was really cool.

For me this movie walked a really fine line between enjoyable Bollywood emotional-but-not-too-muchso goodness and trauma-drama-o-rama. That's a delicate balance, and there were moments when I thought it was going to tip over, but then most of those turned out to be dream sequences. The beginning - when Sikandar is a kid - was really rough, I thought, but it got going there, kicked into action with the great scene of Sikandar pulling up to the crossroads on his bike, watching the funeral procession, and seeing Kamna and Vishal. Good fun.

[Spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk.]

Now for the usual list of little things. Lots of little things, including some fun quotes.
  • "I'm drowned so badly that the one sympathizing with me will also get drowned."
  • I really wish a Hindi-speaker had been with me to translate all of Amitabh's commentary during the fight in the bar. It somehow reminded me of Jason Bateman in Dodgeball (even though I can't imagine he was talking about pumpkins, Cotton).
  • Amitabh's "I'm drunk" style of speaking sounds just like it does in B&B.
  • Awesome Egypt-themed bad-guy hangout. Also with fake tunnel effect.
  • "It's just me, my loneliness, and I wait for you only."
  • "I may writhe myself to death for you, but it matters not to you if I'm alive or dead." Now if anyone can write herself to death, surely it's Rekha.
  • Sikandar's endearing stumbling attempts at hospitality
  • Have we learned nothing about how you shouldn't get someone else to write your love letters for you? Or any kind of letter, for that matter? Write your own love letters and sign your real name, probably both first and last to avoid confusion. We've been over this, people! Honestly.
  • I love Vishal's wide-eyed earnestness and affections. He's puppy-like in an incredibly attractive way. It helps that he's smart, of course. And that he is willing to share and act on his feelings. Unlike some people we could mention. But trying to buy off Zohra was kind of skeezy. Just because she's a prostitute doesn't mean that everything about her is for sale. Which I'm sure is the point she's making.
  • Father-son bubble song comparison! Sweet! "Dil To Hai Dil" vs. Dil Chahta Hai's "Kaisi Hai Yeh Rut." I've always wanted to blame this song on something, and now I have a suspect.

  • "The heart is so impish."
  • Those are some really tight pants our heros are sporting.
  • Vinshal's shriek of excitement upon hearing the success of his first letter.

  • Who's in all the movie posters in the background of the street scenes? Let's investigate. When Vishal goes to confront Zohra, we see Khel Khiladi Ka and (I think) Ram Bharose (also with Rekha and Amjad Khan, both of which were out in 1977, so totally appropriate (if not in fact just true, if they did film this on a street somewhere). In fact, we see this very poster
    but with the title in roman characters at the top instead of Hindi. (Side note: some, but not all, websites I found spelled this "Khiladi," but on the movie poster in the movie, we see it as "Khilari." Who wants to explain this to me? Is this the same phenomenon in transliterating Hindi into English that gives us "ladki" but sometimes "lardki"?)
  • Oh, they're playing a version that Barry White song from Ally McBeal, the one characters would think as they were trying to rev themselves up for romantic intrigue, often in front of the mirror in the unisex bathroom. You know the one. Anyway, this is one of those times in Bollywood when I'm not sure if they're meaning to make a new version of a song, or if they've tried to make a different song inspired by the first song. Like in Disco Dancer, that's clearly influenced by "Video Killed the Radio Star," but you can't really call it a remake. Anyway.
  • The hotel the three go into - this too makes a lot more sense now that I've been in the Mohan International, Amritsar, probably built deluxe in the 70s. And yes, that is a candle in the shape of a sad, downturned face with wax-drip hair.

  • I love the lightning flashing, light-up hearts blinking. Tacky as they are, they're a great underscore to seeing your best friend with the love of your life. Sometimes you don't need to drink - the blinking hearts and the weirdly-hairstyled backup dancers will do the trick just fine.

  • See? This is what happens when you withhold information from your friends. You end up shooting them.
  • When Vishal drops Kaamna off but then knocks again and goes around the door to kiss her? That is totally hot. Yet sweet. Deadly combo.


Obi Wan said…
The funny thing is that our channel has the telecast rights for both Khel Khilari Ka(Game of the player) and Ram Bharose(Dependent on God literally, though it connotes a happy-go-lucky kind of attitude), but not for Muqaddar Ka Sikandar! Khel Khilari(or Khiladi or Khiladhi: same difference) Ka is made by a guy called Arjun Hingorani, who had a very interesting quirk- all his movies had 3 Ks as the initials, and all of them starred Dharmendra. These included Kahani Kismat Ki, Karishma Kudrat Ka, Khel Khiladi Ka, Kaatilon Ke Kaatil...All of them were typical Bollywood masala films, extremely loud but good fun if you are not too concerned about logic :-)
Maja said…
Re. sexy father-son, you know Abhishek gets my vote everytime, so I vote for ABx2!
I've yet to see a movie with Vinod, but since I already have Amar Akbar Anthony at home, it's only a question of time.

Hooray for Akshaye with bubbles!
Al Nims Media said…
Nice read. I have written more about

in my blog.
Michael - you read at your own leisure, dear; I'll be here.

Obi Wan - how am I supposed to learn Hindi if r, d, and dh can be used interchangably?

Maja - I knew you would say that. Abhishek does rather skew things (even I do not escape his considerable appeal, even compared to Akshaye). But you watch AAA and tell me what you think of my FPMFIL! And I'm glad you liked the bubbles. They're so awful.
babasko said…
Very very good catch on the bubbles. I didn´t get that one. But I can totally support your suspicion about Kaisi Hai Yeh Rut
t-HYPE said…
This one sounds amusing.

My vote AB & ab for father/son pair of the century!
Anonymous said…
Hi. Great piece. Muqaddar ka Sikandar is a childhood flick when I learned (thanks to AB) just how HOT men could be. What I couldn't understand is WHY he wanted that weepy dishrag Rakhee (or why Vinod wanted her either). Flashforward 20 year, and guess what, still dont understand WHAT men find attractive about pathetic dish rags. Must see the flick again.
No one's going to vote for Vinod/Akshaye, are they? Sniff. Oh well, more for me!

Anamika - hey hey! Welcome to Beth Loves Bollywood. Glad you came by! I'm with you on the dishrag, although she's a much better heroine than some. But yeah, what men find attractive is a mystery to me too. Maybe we could come up with a list based on what Bollywood has taught us.... I have so many of those lists half-started in my head.
Anonymous said…
I'm watching this movie right now! I love Amitabh's critical appreciation of Vinod's fighting chops -- woh, woh, just like he'd do for a dancing girl. And both men are so smoking hot that I can hardly sit through the movie. It's a rare man who can work skin-tight white pants, and here are TWO in the same film! India is truly a marvelous place. But a sad one, because it's also a place where your adoptive mother drops dead in the courtyard right after you get thrown out of the mean guy's house and the little birthday girl has all but spat upon you.

About R and D -- I think there's a sound halfway between R and D in Hindi, and no one knows how to transliterate it properly into English because we don't have an equivalent sound -- like "th" and "d" in Greek. "Ladke" always sounds like "larike" to me.
Anonymous said…
The 'd' (or 'r') in khiladi is a Persian or Arabic sound that was imported into Hindi. In the Devanagari script, this consonant is represented by a dot next to the letter 'd', and it is subtly different from the regular 'd' (which does not have a dot). It is used mainly for loan words from Urdu/Arabic/Persian, and it can't be used at the beginning of the word.

It is what's called a "retroflex flap". The sound is made by a quick flap of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, and that gives it a sort of a trill which puts it somewhat midway between a 'd' and an 'r'.

Kaushik - that is exactly the kind of explanation I wanted, actually! Thank you! I really am going to start to learn Hindi sometime soon. I have a wee bit of linguistics under my belt, but most of what I know about types of sounds was learned from years and years of choral singing in various languages, and every now and then a director would break out the IPA. Really cool. Thanks!
Aparna said…
I came upon this a little late I think...but had to comment.
At one time your FPMFIL was suppsoed to be the next superstar, and not AB, mainly because he was drop-dead handsome, and tall, in fact, one of the very few stars who could stand shoulder tos houlder with AB, and not look 'longish' (you know what I mean). However, he went on to become a follower of Rajnish, left acting in movies, and started being all immersed in spirituality....so by the time he came back...he was old, and AB was a superstar.
P.S.:My database is my hubby, as I was not allowed to see non-kiddie movies when I was growing up, so all this info is courtesy him.

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