Blast from the past Friday Review

Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)

A scene from "Muqaddar Ka Sikandar"

A scene from "Muqaddar Ka Sikandar"

My earliest recollection of the name Amitabh Bachchan goes back to October-November 1980, when as a six-year-old in a boarding school, my name figured among the list of seven boys barred from going for a movie outing in the city, permitted to boarders once in four months. The movie I missed was “Dostana”, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha and Zeenat Aman. While today I do not remember the exact reason for my black-listing, I do recall the actor’s name being mentioned.

While the name –– Amitabh Bachchan –– itself seemed very fascinating unlike any other I had ever heard before, his heroics in the movie, were colourfully, vividly and skilfully described by Rajeev Pundir, a fellow boarder, now no more, making Amitabh the most dashing and dynamic personality in my childish imagination. Hearing so much I was yearning to watch him in action and watching “Dostana” was the only item on my bucket list in 1980-81. As luck and circumstances would have it, instead of seeing Amitabh in action in “Dostana” I landed up watching his “Muqaddar Ka Sikandar” (MKS) during winter vacations. The film had released two years before “Dostana” but was having a great run at the box office.

The image of Amitabh riding a motorcycle, crooning “Rote Hue Aate Hain Sabh” was my introduction to this fabulous actor on the screen and has remained etched in my memory ever since. I am sure I am not the only one. Apart from this another heart wrenching scene which has never left me is Amjad Khan gorging my beloved Amitabh with a spear leading to his death. Amjad Khan’s villainous act had me distrusting the actor when he played a positive role as I waited with bated breath from him to show his true colours.

“Muqaddar Ka Sikandar” is an action packed romantic-drama with superb star cast, including Vinod Khanna, Rakhee Gulzar, Rekha and Amjad Khan. Combining the gripping screenplay by Vijay Kaul and soulful music by Kalyanji-Anandji, director Prakash Mehra produced a beautiful concoction of love, sacrifice and melodrama.

The plot revolves around an orphan Sikandar (Amitabh), an illiterate guy who struggles to win the love of his life – Kaamna (Rakhee), through the help of his lawyer friend Vishal (Vinod Khanna). Unfortunately for Sikandar, since he professes his love for her through a letter penned by Vishal, Kaamna mistakenly assumes that Vishal loves her and is pleased about it. Since the identity of Sikandar’s ladylove is not known to Vishal, he too reciprocates. When Sikandar comes to know about the love between his best friend and the woman he has lived for all his life he takes to drinking, finding solace in the arms of a nautch-girl Zohra Bai (Rekha). The twist in the tale comes when Zohra dies leading to a fight between Sikandar and Dilawar (Amjad Khan).

What hits the Amitabh fans is the climax which sees their icon injured after a bloody fight with Dilawar reaches for the solemnisation of Vishal and Kaamna’s marriage. Nearing his end, he reveals the identity of his love when he calls Kaamna as Memsahib. Unlike the Sikandar (Alexander) who won territories by sword, this Sikandar wins the hearts of all leaving them crying. Amitabh as a complete actor stands out in the emotional scenes in the film whether it is his speech on the stage after Kaamna sarcastically comments about his singing skills or when he begs Zohra to open the door. Again, the film’s climax is entirely Amitabh who eclipses everybody. Rakhee justifies the role of a woman going through emotional turmoil while Vinod Khanna’s character does not have much punch though he won the Filmfare Award in Best Supporting Actor Category for this role. This was the last film in which Vinod and Amitabh worked together.

Rekha makes an impact in her short role, but Amjad Khan, a consummate actor, is wasted. Ram Sethi as Pyaare Lal, a last minute replacement for Asrani does not disappoint A scene between Sikandar and him when they bid good bye after a drinking session is hilarious.

The film has memorable cameos by Nirupa Rao and Kadar Khan, who as Darvesh Baba teaches Sikandar the philosophy of life –– “Sikandar – Sukh mein hanstey ho to dukh mein kehkahey lagaao, zindagi ka andaaz badal jaayega.”

The songs in the film rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi became a rage even before the film was released and remains popular till date. “Salam-e-Ishq” by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, filmed on Amitabh and Rekha is the highlight of the film while “Rote Hue Aate Hai Sabh” is one of the best Amitabh-Kishore Kumar combo and topped the Binaca Geetmala for months.

Genre: Romantic drama

Director: Prakash Mehra

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Rakhee Gulzar, Rekha, Amjad Khan, Nirupa Roy, Shreeram Lagoo, Kader Khan, Ranjeet

Story: Laxmikant Sharma

Screenplay: Vijay Kaul

Dialogue: Kadar Khan

Lyrics: Anjaan

Music: Kalyanji-Anandji

Box office status: Hit


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Printable version | Jun 10, 2022 3:49:41 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/muqaddar-ka-sikandar-1978/article8591212.ece