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Amar Akbar Anthony: Masala, Madness and Manmohan Desai - by Sidharth Bhatia (Book Review By Bobby Sing)


Amar Akbar Anthony Book Review by Bobby Sing

The moment anyone talks about ‘Manmohan Desai’, the man who pioneered a new phase of cleverly packaged wholesome entertainment in Hindi Cinema, then the very first film which comes to your mind has to be AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY undeniably. And certainly that is the reason why well known author & journalist Sidharth Bhatia selects this particular film out of the rich repertoire of the veteran director for his amusing small book called Amar Akbar Anthony: Masala, Madness and Manmohan Desai.
To begin with, for all the movie freaks who have fondly seen this cult entertainer several times in their different phases of life till date, even the news of a whole book written on its making should be exciting enough to opt for it at once. But in case, you have not seen the film at all or have just watched its few scenes vaguely on the various film channels, then just go for this book at the earliest and experience what film-making used to be in that fabulous, happening decade of our Hindi cinema. Particularly in the year, when the hit-machine Manmohan Desai was directing four films simultaneously (sometimes in the adjoining studios too) with few common stars and amazingly all the four movies went on to become Big Jubilee Hits on their consecutive releases.
The first three projects were DHARAM VEER, CHACHA BHATIJA and PARVARISH, whereas the fourth AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY turned out to be the one reaching a cult status bigger than any other movie directed by Manmohan Desai in his hugely successful career. Interestingly with AAA, the confident director converted the decades old idea of ‘Lost & Found’ into a big hit once again and that too along with an impressive social message of “Equality among different Religions”. Beginning with a short introduction on the loving madness seen in the director most famous films, the book has its second chapter completely devoted to the detailed storyline which actually remains worth reading for the viewers who have not seen the film yet.
However the most exciting part of the book begins from its third chapter which exclusively talks about the making of AAA and then the fourth one on how to spice up a movie with all the Indian masalas added in the typical Desai style. The final few chapters revolve around the ‘MD School of Secularism’, ‘The Mumbai film’ and ‘The last word in Entertainment’ dealing with some other aspects of a Manmohan Desai film since his first project. But since the writer regularly keeps sharing many interesting observations related with the diversified subjects, the book becomes an engrossing read even when it is not saying anything about AAA in particular.
Taking you behind the scenes (back to the conceptual stage), Sidharth tells you how the story idea got conceived from a newspaper article about a man who went on to commit suicide after leaving his three sons in a park. Script writer Prayag Raaj developed it further with Manmohan Desai and later Kader Khan superbly added to the project with his amusing dialogues. More unknown facts are revealed through some exciting interviews with the cast and crew such as Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Kader Khan, (cinematographer) Peter Pereira, (special effects) Ramesh Meer and Ketan Desai (the director’s son). And being a fan of Desai’s cult cinema, its really a treat to read how the director used to shoot his distinctive scenes through his hidden instinct, how the name Anthony Gonsalves got into existence, who wrote the opening rap lines of this ‘item song’, how the famous ‘mirror scene’ was shot, how quickly the director used to complete his scenes (with reference to Satyajit Ray), the thought of adding a devotional qawwali with a miracle and how the film was instantly loved by the audience on its first day of release all over.
As a value addition the centre pages of the book have pictures of its coloured posters, lobby cards and film stills with some interesting footnotes. Plus the writer also mentions few of the film’s ignored flaws too making it a complete study of just 148 pages presented in a compact size. In short this is not any detailed account of the making, going into some extreme lengths. But a sweet and immensely likable book on one of the most famous films of Hindi Cinema, which can easily be read in only one or two sittings and it will certainly entertain you well just like the film always does whenever we get to see it again on DVD or the cable channels.
Amar Akbar Anthony: Masala, Madness and Manmohan Desai – By Sidharth Bhatia
Published by Harper-Collins India (2013) – Pages 148 (Small Size Paperback)

Tags : Amar Akbar Anthony: Masala, Madness and Manmohan Desai by Sidharth Bhatia, Book Review By Bobby Sing, Books on Hindi Cinema Reviews by Bobby Sing, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing, Vintage Books Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Nostalgic books on Hindi Cinema.
25 Feb 2014 / Comment ( 0 )
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