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40 years of Sharaabi : A heady cocktail which has aged like fine wine !!

Cast:- Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Prada, Pran, Om Prakash, Deepak Parashar, Suresh Oberoi & Ranjeet Music :- Bappi Lahiri Director :- Pr...

Cast:- Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Prada, Pran, Om Prakash, Deepak Parashar, Suresh Oberoi & Ranjeet

Music :- Bappi Lahiri

Director :- Prakash Mehra

Released on May 18, 1984, Sharaabi (Drunkard) was an emotional drama with dollops of action and comedy. The film which turns 40 this year has a multi-layered storyline and is essentially a tale of a father who is a business tycoon and his son who is addicted to alcohol primarily due to his father’s negligence. Although it’s inspired by the British movie Arthur (1981) starring the famous British actor Dudley Moor, director Prakash Mehra and dialogue writer Kader Khan suitably Indianized it by adding all the tropes of a Bachchan flick to make it more dramatic and entertaining for the Indian audience. The film was a super hit at the box office and won two Filmfare awards for Best Music and Best Playback Singer (Male). Sharaabi was later remade in Kannada as Nee Thanda Khanike (1985), but it was not as successful as the original.

Storyline:-  Vicky Kapoor (Amitabh Bachchan) is the only son of multi-millionaire Amarnath Kapoor (Pran) who is materialistic to the core and has no time for his son. Vicky’s yearning for paternal love is understood only by Munshi Phoolchand (Om Prakash). Pining for his father’s love and affection Vicky turns into an alcoholic and develops a strong dislike for his father's wealth and the hypocritical lifestyle of his father’s friends and colleagues.

Vicky has a heart of gold since his adolescent years and helps an orphan boy Anwar by secretly financing his upbringing. Anwar (Deepak Parashar) grows up to be an honest police officer who is hellbent on finding out his secret angel. Vicky falls in love with a dancer Meena (Jaya Prada), daughter of a blind man, much to the chagrin of his father. Meena’s greedy agent Natwar (Ranjeet) hatches a sinister conspiracy which results in a huge row between father and son. Vicky leaves his father’s mansion and property along with Munshi Phoolchand. How Vicky deals with the vagaries and hardships of life after getting ousted, how his volatile equation with his father changes, and how the beneficiaries of his good deeds help him in the path of life forms the rest of the story.

Performances: - Amitabh Bachchan is superb as an alcoholic with a golden heart, his comic timing is unmatchable and he is equally proficient in the dramatic scenes with Pran and romantic scenes with Jaya Prada. His voice modulation throughout the movie is exemplary. His sheer presence lights up the screen and it's not difficult to fathom why he was towering above other stars in that period. Pran is excellent as Amarnath, the metamorphosis of his character in the second half is excellent. Om Prakash is first-rate as Munshi Phoolchand, he breathes life into the character. Jaya Prada looks ethereal and performs well. Deepak Parashar probably gives his best performance as Anwar; he looks dashing and heroic. Ranjeet, Mayur, and Suresh Oberoi are adequate in their roles.

Music :- Music of the film by Bappi Lahiri was a rage at that time and continues to be popular even today. Bappi da took two folksy tunes of Bangladesh, Allah megh de paani de by Abbasuddin and Bondhu teen din by Runa Laila, and fused them with his own characteristic disco beats to create De de pyaar de and Jahan char yaar mil jaaye, both of them were chartbusters. The other songs, the slow and fast-paced  Inteha ho gayee, the lilting Mujhe naulakha mangwa de, and the deeply philosophical Manzilein apni jagah hain which fetched Kishore Kumar the Filmfare award for best singer (male) are still heard in almost all retro radio stations and TV channels.  

Sharaabi was released with a lot of fanfare and lived up to the expectations of the masses in almost every department. Although archrival Manmohan Desai dismissed the film as “misleading for the youth” and a few critics wrote negatively about it, its dialogues like “moonchein ho toh nathulal jaisi” and Amitabh’s walk with one hand in his pocket (he burnt his hand while bursting Diwali crackers before the shooting of this film) became iconic. Today, a few of the scenes may appear longish and a couple of comedy gags may appear “crass” to some, but there is no doubt that the film which was the last hit of the Prakash Mehra – Amitabh Bachchan combo, stands tall even now and is like a glass of sangria, heady and smooth at the same time !!

By Ayushman Mitra

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