Band of Brothers

Can we ever go back to that India again? We do. Bouncing around a madcap plot, dreamt up by the peerless Kader Khan, Amar Khanna, Akbar Illahabadi and Anthony Gonsalves showed us that it was entirely possible to live happily together. There was non-stop laughter, and more than a few furious eye-roll moments. No prizes for guessing who they are. But we also recognised the importance of what the film said, in its campy, nutty, vastly entertaining manner: there could be diversity, but oh yes, there could be unity too. But then I made peace with it, because the amount of subversion injected in the film through its male leads was good enough. Advertising

The year, 1977. In a climactic song, a line goes, Anhoni ko honi kar de, honi ko anhoni, ek jagah jo jamaa ho teenon, Amar, Akbar, Anthoneeee”. 0
Comment(s) Naagins taking on vengeful human avatars, the dead coming miraculously alive, bullets tracing a curve in the air: we took these things in our stride. Upright cop Amar (Vinod Khanna) gets Lakshmi (Shabana Azmi), qawaali-singer Akbar has eyes only for Salma (Neetu Singh), and the good-for-nothing tapori Anthony (Amitabh Bachchan) gifts his heart to Jenny (Parveen Babi). We laughed our heads off, especially when Bachchan was doing his thing: oh that drunk scene in front of the mirror, and that unforgettable song in which he rises out of a mammoth Easter egg. They don’t know that the woman is their mother. But AAA took the cake, and everything else in the confectionary shop. The film, Amar Akbar Anthony (AAA), directed by Manmohan Desai, the king of masala movies. Who else would it be in a Manmohan Desai movie? We all wanted to live in Kholi number 420. Advertising

The director was careful to get the brothers to fall in love with the ‘right girls’. That espousing different religions and belief systems had nothing to do with maintaining bhaichara, goodwill, and amity, amongst each other and in society at large. In an iconic scene, which felt perfectly logical in the movie’s scheme of things, three men are seen donating blood to an old woman lying injured on a hospital bed. Logic was the weakest component in mainstream Hindi masala movies, especially those that came out in the ’70s and ’80s. I used to wonder what would have happened if the guys and girls had got mixed up, too. It was only a movie, but it spoke to the ideal idea of the nation, a robust, democratic, plural space. The three bhais, of course.