Blast from the past Cinema

Vishwanath (1978)

Reena Roy. Photo: The Hindu Archives  


Starring Shatrughan Sinha, Reena Roy, Prem Nath, Pran, Madan Puri, Ranjeet, Parikshat Sahni

This 142-minute crime saga was Subhash Ghai’s second successful directorial venture after the debut hit “Kalicharan” (again with Shatrughan Sinha and Reena Roy).

It established without doubt an uncanny knack for storytelling and direction, though not without blemishes, but covering them with appealing punchlines and dialogue for the frontbenchers. For instance, “ Vishwanath uss cheese ka naam hai jo garibi aur insaniyat se pyaar karta hai…aur aap jaise rakhshso pe vaar karta; jali ko aag kehte hai, bhuji to raakh kehte hai…jis raakh se barood bane, usse Vishwanath kehte hai.” That would otherwise sound hollow coming from an actor with limited range. It also demonstrates a penchant for innovative picturisation using innovative camera angles, but not necessarily sustainable plotline and storyboard that changed with time and experience as has been in some of his home productions.

Vishwanath (Shatrughan Sinha) is a middle-class public prosecutor with a penchant for justice and a soft corner for the common man that endear him to the masses. But then he commits the unpardonable sin of awarding life imprisonment to Jimmy (Sudhir) — the son of industrialist DNK (Prem Nath) — and his henchman Khokha (Ranjeet) on charges of rape and murder. Not many in the city know that DNK is also an underworld don involved in all sorts of criminal activities. Fuming for revenge, and using every trick of the trade, he gets him implicated in a bribery case, and condemned to short-term imprisonment (a brilliant lawyer falling prey to an ordinary trick).

Once out and determined to seek revenge, sporting three-piece suits, dark glasses and a beard he determinedly takes the law into his own hands, lets loose a war against DNK by systematically attacking his business interests, helped in the process by Golu Gawah (Pran) and his four sidekicks with varying capabilities. Also thrown into the narrative is the emotional track of a crippled sister, Munni (Rita Bhaduri) who after a series of embarrassing situations finds a companion in Siddharth (Parikshat Sahni) but not before getting miraculously cured and taking to shirts and skirts in place of saris.

And the story begins to degenerate into a routine action narrative. The climax demonstrates a clear Manmohan Desai influence — Munni and her husband behind bars, Vishwanath boxed into a glass cage with water levels inching up, the beloved singing and dancing on broken glass pieces on a carpet, bleeding in the process, and Golu Gawah plunging into action with a song on his lips, and a stick in his hands with which to challenge his rival — but not before Jimmy and Khokha arrive on the scene without warning.

But hey, can there be Hindi film without romance, songs and dances? So we have a rich high society nightclub dancer-singer who flips for the hero as Soni (Reena Roy) looking fresh and stunning, putting in an admirable performance. There is enough leg show, especially in song-dance sequences like “Janam kundli dekhke itna to batla de jogi”, “Hawa se halki lagti hoon”, “Karegi man mauj aaj bibasha”.

Lyrics by Anjaan, Vithalbhai Patel and M.G. Hashmat are woven into hummable compositions by Rajesh Roshan, elegantly picturised and placed in appropriate situations in the narrative to add a certain rhythm.

Pran yet again gives a sterling performance. Shatrughan Sinha continued to live Vishwanath for the rest of his life demonstrating limited oeuvre. Prem Nath displays his villainous act with gumption; Madan Puri is passable, while Ranjeet hardly gets any footage to demonstrate the expected animality in the initial or climax stages.

Technically produced by business manager Pawan Kumar, it was a Shatrughan Sinha maiden home production made under the Ramayana Chitra banner.

It did just about average business at the box office but was remade in Telugu as “Lawyer Vishwanath”.

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Printable version | Aug 20, 2017 7:44:39 PM |