Page Nav


Gradient Skin




35 years of ‘Tridev’ the ultimate 1980s actioner

Starcast: Naseeruddin Shah, Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Madhuri Dixit, Sonam, Sangeeta Bijlani, Anupam Kher, Dalip Tahil, Raza Murad, Sharad ...

Starcast: Naseeruddin Shah, Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Madhuri Dixit, Sonam, Sangeeta Bijlani, Anupam Kher, Dalip Tahil, Raza Murad, Sharad Saxena, Tej Sapru, Dan Dhanoa and Amrish Puri

Guest Appearance: Shekhar Suman, Vijayendra Ghatge and Yunus Parvez

Director: Rajiv Rai

Music: Kalyanji Anandji

Right at the time of the prologue when Naseeruddin Shah, in his imposing baritone, says, “Paap se dharti fati, andhkaar se asmaan, atyachar se kaanpi insaniyat, raaj kar rahe haiwaan” and is followed by racy background music, it is almost a given that the director Rajiv Rai wants to take the audience on a roller coaster ride with this film full of breathtaking stunts, uber cool music, all the necessary ingredients required in a masala film in the right proportions and above all high entertainment value. Tridev was an ultimate entertainer, a rare film which made even the staunchest critics admit that it’s a highly “engaging” film. And even after 35 years of its release (July 7, 1989), its impact on the audience has remained constant. A film that has aged like a fine wine.

Storyline: Police inspector Karan (Sunny Deol) is assigned to nab a dreaded international criminal Bhujang (Amrish Puri). Karan comes from a respected family and is engaged to Divya (Madhuri Dixit), the daughter of Karan’s superior Police Commissioner Arvind (Anupam Kher). Arvind’s son Ravi (Jackie Shroff) is a misguided youth who takes the law into his hands time and again. After Karan is unjustly framed for bribery, Commissioner Arvind sends him to a village where he meets local ruffian Jai (Naseeruddin Shah). After initial scuffles, they become friends. Jai reveals that his father was a freedom fighter who was killed by Bhairav a ruthless bandit.

Karan is traced by Bhujang’s men who come to kill him with Ravi, who, by now has apparently joined Bhujang’s gang. They try to burn him alive, but he survives thanks to a knife that Ravi secretly gave him. Karan now has only one mission; to eliminate Bhujang and his gang.

What is Ravi’s exact motive behind joining Bhujang’s gang? Who exactly was Daku Bhairav who killed Jai’s righteous father? Will Divya ever get to know that Karan is alive? The film culminates with answers to all these and more. 

Direction and Other Technical Aspects: There is no doubt that Rajiv Rai was one of the most technically sound directors in his heydays and this is reflected in almost each and every shot of Tridev. The camera angles were innovative for its times, the production design was top-notch, and a special mention is the villain’s lair, a set made on waterfalls. Another notable aspect of Rajiv’s direction was his mastery and control over emotional and confrontational scenes, none of them are too winding or exaggerated. Of course, cinematographer Romesh Bhalla, editor Naresh Malhotra (who later directed Yeh Dillagi), and art director Bijon Dasgupta deserve a lot of appreciation, but clearly, it was Rajiv’s supervision and suggestion that elicited superlative results from them.

Performances: The three male leads were literally in top form when Tridev was being made and needless to say all of them performed superbly. Sunny Deol is excellent as the wronged cop Karan. He looks smart and debonair and is superb in both romantic and action scenes. Jackie Shroff is in his “cool” avatar and the actor brings the required suaveness and impishness in his character very well. But it’s the great Naseeruddin Shah as Jai who is the most impressive. Mainly known for his portrayals in parallel cinema, Naseer embraces the character of the playful and rustic Jai effortlessly, and is at ease in songs and dances so clearly seen in the cult song “Tirchi Topiwale”. The actresses in such films didn’t have much scope except to look pretty in songs and vulnerable in the climax. But, out of the three female leads, Sangeeta Bijlani’s character Natasha has a lot of meat as the mole in Bhujang’s gang and she does a commendable job. She looks pretty and performs well. Madhuri as Divya looks demure and performs very well in a scene where she is rescued from the goons and Sonam as Renuka looks extremely glamorous and her chemistry with Naseeruddin Shah is surprisingly good.

Rajiv Rai’s films always had a huge gang of formidable baddies and this film is no exception. Whether its Raza Murad as the corrupt politician, Sharat Saxena as the unscrupulous cop, Tej Sapru and Dan Dhanoa as the two creepy sons of Bhujang, or Dalip Tahil as the arms dealer Don, each one of them leaves a mark and impresses the audience with their villainous and sometimes comic acts. However, Amrish Puri as the menacing Bhujang takes the cake. His deep baritone, rolling eyes, and domineering presence make the character larger than life.

Music: Music by Kalyanji Anandji and arrangement by Kalyanji’s son Viju Shah was certainly a game changer. The funky orchestration and arrangement caught the fancy of the youth and all the songs still have an individual cult following. Tirchi Topiwale (Amit Kumar, Sapna Mukherjee), inspired by Gloria Estefan’s Rhythm is Gonna Get You is still a huge hit . Gazar Ne Kiya Hai Ishara (Sapna Mukherjee, Sadhna Sargam and Alka Yagnik) is a lovely “climax” song which still holds a lot of mass appeal. Gali Gali Mein (Alka Yagnik, Manhar Udhas), a personal favourite has a superb arrangement and some innovative lyrics by Anand Bakshi. Main Teri Mohabbat Mein (Mohd. Aziz, Sadhna Sargam) is a lilting love ballad while Raat Bhar Jaam Se (Alisha Chinoy) is a very good slow burn number that grows on you over time.

35 years after its release Tridev still has a lot of appeal among action movie lovers. Unlike many films of that era, it has “aged” well. The climax where Naseer arrives with a huge sword, Jackie comes on a motorbike and Sunny on a horse is still cheered by many. It is and will remain one of the few Hindi action films which was ahead of its time and yet was well received by the audience.

By Ayushmaan Mitra 

No comments