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ZANJEER (1973) defining friendships on and off the screen. (Exclusive Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing)

02 Aug, 2021 | Articles on Cinema

Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer (1973) not only introduced the concept of ‘angry young man’ in Hindi cinema but also redefined the concept of ‘friends forever’ both on and off the screen as a worthy classic. It presented the noble thought on-screen through one of the most famous, cult tracks, “Yaari hai imaan mera, yaar meri zindagi’. And proved the same behind the screen, resulting in long-lasting relationships creating many more classics together. 
Giving the details, Zanjeer laid the foundation of one of the most potent actor-director combinations in Hindi cinema of Prakash Mehra and Amitabh Bachchan, coming up with entertaining gems for the masses as Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina (as a producer), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Laawaris, Namak Halaal and Sharaabi (excluding Jaadugar). These films contributed a lot to the unprecedented success of Bachchan in his career in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Besides, the major success of Zanjeer also became a key factor in the life of both Amitabh and Jaya as a couple. 

It’s not any rare fact that Salim-Javed, the two writer friends, actually arrived and established their reign in the industry post-Zanjeer and Yaadon Ki Baaraat in the year 1973. Amusingly, both these films were in reality derived from the same source and had a similar story-plot too with the major changes made in their characterizations. The duo later also worked with Mehra in Haath Ki Safaai.

With Zanjeer, the producer-director also established a strong bond with the music director duo Kalyanji Anandji. Their association creating hit songs continued for more than ten films, for the next 16 years till Jaadugar (1989).

Revealing the lesser-known friendship behind the screen, Zanjeer became the reason for the fond relationship between Mehra and Ram Sethi–the actor accompanying Amitabh in many of the famous, hilarious scenes in the hit films mentioned. To make you recall, he played Pyarelal in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and was the photographer friend of Amitabh in Namak Halaal, who takes him to the five-star hotel, before the popular song, ‘Pag ghunghroo bandh Meera naachi thi’. Becoming an integral part of Mehra’s team, Sethi not only played small enjoyable characters in almost every film of the director post-Zanjeer but also worked as his assistant director behind the camera for many of the major ventures. Such was the friendly bond between the two that Mehra also gave Sethi the opportunity to direct his production Ghunghroo in 1983 that unfortunately couldn’t create any ripples at the box office.

Coming to the most important part of the write-up, though both Prakash Mehra and Pran had worked together in a couple of films in the past, it was Zanjeer (as Mehra’s first production) that laid the foundation of their new relationship continuing for the next two decades till Jaadugar. In fact, Pran enacted one of the most appreciated characters of his career as Sher Khan and impressed everyone in the industry and the audience, dancing to the beats of the song ‘Yaari Hai Imaan Mera’ penned by Gulshan Bawra and choreographed by Satyanarayan.

Sharing the instance pointing towards professional ethics between friends, Pran had a very loving relationship with Manoj Kumar, the man who transformed his image through the character of Malang Chacha in Upkar. Coincidentally Kumar offered a similar role of a Pathaan to Pran (in his film Shor) when the veteran actor had already given his consent to Prakash Mehra for Zanjeer. Conveying the same, Pran humbly asked the writer-director if we can change the character of Pathaan to someone else, as he had already committed to Mehra. 

To this Kumar replied, “Pran Saab, I appreciate your commitment. You are committed to Prakash Mehra, and I am committed to my script. I cannot change it. So, no ill feelings.”

As mentioned in the biography by Bunny Reuben, Kumar further informed, “We took Prem Nath Ji instead. This made people think that something has gone wrong between Pran and Manoj Kumar. But it was not like that. The very third day, he was sitting at my house and hearing the story of Dus Numbri”.

That is how ethics and friendships can both be maintained without getting offended, responding sportingly. Coming back to the song ‘Yaari Hai Imaan Mera’, though its execution is known for the excellence achieved, it was surprisingly the first sequence shot by Pran for the film in the get-up of Sher Khan. Have a great friendship day, but celebrate it safely, wearing your masks taking all the precautions. 

Bobby Sing

NOTE : The article was first published in THE FREE PRESS JOURNAL Newspaper (Mumbai Edition) on 1st August 2021.
Note : The write-up is a chapter shared from my upcoming book releasing soon. So any additions, rectifications suggested by friends are welcome to make it better.
Did You Know By Bobby SingFor more such interesting articles on lesser known facts on Hindi Cinema, do try DID YOU KNOW Series by Bobby Sing available in both Book and E-book form.

Now also available in Hindi titled, 'Itna To Yaad Hai Mujhe'
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Tags : ZANJEER (1973) defining friendships Article by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Exclusive Articles on Hindi Cinema by Bobby Sing, New Rare Articles on Hindi Films by Bobby Sing
02 Aug 2021 / Comment ( 2 )
Abbas Kishore Kumar

Greatest work Bobby Saab Our Thank You.

Bobby Sing

Many Loving thanks.

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