Thursday, May 17, 2007

Zanjeer: The dawn of a new star

For Amitabh Bachchan, Zanjeer was not his first movie. But it was a landmark movie, the movie that set Amitabh as the angry young man, as the movie that laid the foundation of a career that reached tremendous heights. Before Zanjeer, Amitabh had done a few films such as Reshma and Shera, Anand, Namak Haram, etc. His depiction in these movies was not very positive, and even in Anand, he played the sober self to Rajesh Khanna's chirpy yet doomed character.
Then came Zanjeer. Released in 1973, those were turbulent times in India. Indira Gandhi had started losing her sheen gained after the Bangladesh War of 1971, and society was starting to feel the angst of a general decline in the country. This was a perfect time for such a film and character to catch on, and it really did, released by Prakash Mehra.
The film by itself was a very unglamorous movie, set in the theme of a revenge motif that ran throughout the movie. Taking revenge after a number of years was not a very common movie concept, and the concept of a chain (worn in the hand of the killer) completing the circle inside the movie (death, growing up, and revenge) was a very dramatic concept. Even the romance in the movie (between Amitabh and Jaya) is unlike most romances, without a flair in it. The movie is primarily remembered for the way that Amitabh essays the role of a police office, lean and brooding, and suddenly bursting into action.
The story is again not very complicated: As a child, Amitabh witnessed the murder of his parents, and all he witnessed was the hand of the criminal, with a chain hanging on the hand. When he grows up, he becomes a policeman, ready to punish all offenders for their crimes with an iron hand. He is haunted by his parents murder, an unhealed wound on his mind.
He bumps into Ajit (his parents murderer), who is a crook whom Amitabh wants to catch. Over the storyline of the film, he finds an incredible friend (Pran) who is a local badman until beaten by Amitabh in his own area, and the love of his life, Jaya who is a street-wise gypsy girl. He eventually discovers that Ajit is the killer of his parents, and is able to get his revenge.

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