Three men belonging to three different religions are lying down on adjacent hospital- beds, the IV line inserted in each man’s arm is seeping blood and lo, behold the receiving bottle is the same! The blood in the bottle is being given to a blind lady! Of course, don’t you know in the end those three men would prove to be long-lost brothers and the lady would turn out to be their dear mother!
Making sense out of nonsense was the illogical logic of Manmohan Desai’s movie-making formula and using that ingenious formula he created an all-time classic called Amar Akbar Anthony. To instill cinematic sense into Amar Akbar Anthony’s totally implausible story full of nonsensical elements needed a brain of a genius and Manmohan Desai was indeed a genius. He was a master of making Masala Movies – a popular Bollywood term for clichéd formulaic potboilers.
The incredible plot tells a tale of three brothers getting separated in childhood. They land in three diverse households, get raised in three different faiths and finally grow up to follow three different career-paths. Amar (Vinod Khanna) becomes a police- inspector; Akbar (Rishi Kapoor) becomes a tailor-cum-qawwali- singer and Anthony (Amitabh Bachchan) becomes a golden-hearted goon. The plot takes several twists, turns and tumbles and leaves a maze of amazing and amusing human relations and emotions in its wake. Religious amity, humanity, rich- poor romance, divine miracles- Manmohan Desai leaves no stone unturned to woo the masses. You never get to think about the rights and wrongs in the story; it just takes you on an enjoyable roller-coaster ride full of fun and frolic, with timely emotional pinches- I mean ‘punches’ to keep the momentum going.
Amar’s public- fight with Anthony; drunken Anthony getting beaten- up by his heroine's (Parveen Babi) bodyguard and then trying to soothe his wounds in the mirror-reflection; the blind mom (Nirupa Roy) getting eye- sight through a miracle; a snake thwarting the baddies; Akbar saving his lover Salma (Neetu Singh) from fire; the three brothers masquerading to rescue their sweet-hearts - the strength of the film is in its many memorable sequences. Laxmikant – Pyarelal’s catchy music (Parda Hai Parda, My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves and Anhoni Ko Honi Kar De) is the perfect foil.
Amongst an unending list of stars and starlets in this multi-starrer, Amitabh stands head and shoulders above the rest. His ‘Anthony’ is a delightful combination of street-smart roguishness and a charming sophistication. Comic but sensitive, tough but vulnerable- Anthony with his Bombay- lingo became Amitabh’s Filmfare- award-winning performance.
Unfortunately in trying to cash in on this success, the superstar and his coterie of directors got caught up in a meaningless commerce- driven exercise of dishing up the same image in many of his latter films!