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Prakash Mehra and Amitabh Bachchan forged a pair that was known to shell out one hit after the other. Zanjeer, Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Laawaris, Namak Halaal and Sharaabi are films that defined an era of filmmaking. Although Mehra's films never impressed the critics, they went on to become mammoth successes at the box-office. Namak Halaal was one of them.
The film is about a rich businessman, Raja (Shashi Kapoor) who is under the false impression that his foster mother Savitridevi (Waheeda Rehman) is plotting to kill him for his wealth. Arjun Singh (Amitabh Bachchan) Raja's loyal servant wants to prove his faithfulness by saving his master from every attack attempt made to his life. Meanwhile, Girdhar (Satyendra Kapoor)and his son Ranjit Singh (Ranjeet) try every possible method to eliminate Raja and seize his wealth. What binds them together is an incident that occurred 15 years ago, that led to the deaths of Raja's and Arjun's fathers. What follows is a series of revelations, murder attempts, kidnappings and emotional reunions that make the film Namak Halaal a cult film.
The film, in a nutshell represents the ideal Hindi masala film which has action, romance, comedy, thrills, suspense, drama, emotion, rain songs, family reunions and all the shenanigans that you would associate a typical commercial potboiler with. If you consider the actress Waheeda Rehman as one of the most graceful and elegant mothers in Hindi cinema remember, this was one of the first films where she played a mother. She plays the sacrificing, enduring, emotional, caring and protective mother who would go to any extent to safeguard her adopted son (Raja) even if it is at the cost of giving up her biological son. She is not a melodramatic mother per se, which we've often seen on the silver screen all these years. She can lend subtlety even to the emotional moments, which is what makes her so endearing.
Shashi Kapoor who plays the rich spoilt businessman, shows flashes of brilliance and is at his effervescent best while enacting the jovial scenes as well as those of emotional outbursts. Kapoor manages to hold his own in this film that comprises a bunch of stellar performers.
Poonam (Smita Patil) who plays Arjun Singh's love interest shines in this film despite having a limited role. Her chemistry with Amitabh Bachchan in the rain number Aaj Rapat Jaaye is intense and playful at the same time. The success of the song lies in the fact that the two actors made such a great pair on screen. Nisha (Parveen Babi) plays the singer/dancer at the hotel owned by Raja. She looks stunning in her two numbers Raat Baaki Baat Baaki and Jawani Janeman (both of them sung impeccably by Asha Bhosle) which wouldn't be half as successful if they wouldn't feature the gorgeous Parveen Babi.
Coming to the antagonists played by Satyendra Kapoor and Ranjeet as the scheming father-son duo. The two are conniving in some parts, caricaturized in some, yet manage to look and act menacing in the roles that they play. Om Prakash who plays the adorable 'Daddu' is exceptional, doing the comic and the emotional scenes with Élan. His charming performance will leave you with a smile after you finish watching the film.
Prakash Mehra brings together a good script, great music and an even better cast in this 3-hour entertainer. The film engages you, enthrals you, entices you and most credit should go to the director Prakash Mehra, who manages to bring out spectacular performances from his actors and gives us a film that we would cherish for decades to come. The music by Bappi Lahiri is amazing with chartbusters like the ones mentioned above in addition to Thodi Si Jo Peeli Hai and Pag Ghungroo Bandh. The singers Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle have sung tracks which are not only remembered after all these years, but listened to, reprised and re-mixed as well. The songs represent the nostalgia and the rebelliousness of the 80s and still continue to remain popular. The music of the film is a big reason why the film is a 'more-than-one-time' watch.
Coming to the most important reason why you should watch the movie! It is the inimitable, the irrepressible, the immaculate and the icon of Hindi cinema, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Not just does he have the best role and the best lines in this film, but the best performance as well. He plays the affable Arjun Singh, who can talk English, walk English and laugh English because English is a very 'phunny' language. He captivates the audience as he manages to pull off the comic, emotional and action scenes with ease. Bachchan can make you laugh as easily as he can make you weep.
This film has earned its right to be referred to as a true classic in Hindi Cinema. The film is worth multiple watches and the reviewer gives it 3.5 stars.
Watch 'Namak Halaal' for they don't make such films anymore.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars