Shankar Dada, 1976

Directed by: Shibu Mitra

Take a moment and consider something, this picture, to be exact:

And just think about if you can handle two things:
1. All of this bumptiousness (it is a word) up in here.
2. If Neetu Week gets a little derailed and we smush in some Shashi.
Is that OK? Because, I totally intended for this to be a Neetu-centric post! I didn’t even know Shashi was IN this film and… well… I got a little VERY distracted once I put in the DVD and saw him on the menu screen.
I am only human.
Je damn! I loved this movie. Don’t ask me why, you should know better than to ask me why at this point. I wish I had the skill, care, and ability to read into things, to dissect them and analyze but I don’t and I never shall.
Our happy little fillum starts off with Police Inspector Amar Singh (Pran) and his wife (Anjali Kadam) in the typical household squabble of “Men never remember important dates”*. Amar tries his best at guessing, leaving the wife much unamused.
The long-suffering wife reminds him of what day it REALLY is, and points towards the two things my uterus will ever do anticipatory backflips for.
The two things:
1. Indian children.
2. Twin boys.

Of COURSE it is the twin boys, Ram aur Shankar’s birthday! And Baba forgot! He quickly kisses the boys on the head, feeds them some sweets and promises to see them that night.

At work, Police Inspector Amar Singh does his duty in combating goons and corruption from the local Don, Babubhai (Anwar Hussain).

No…and I DID bribe a police officer while in India…
Phew! I was lucky!

After a long day of “battling the lions of injustice” (name that movie) Amar Singh returns home too late to celebrate his boys’ birthday. He makes some phone calls about work related matters and settles in to dinner with his biwi when there is an urgent knock on the door. A frantic woman enters, crying hysterically and begging Amar to come with her as goons have invaded and surrounded her house and are holding her husband captive. Off they trot leaving the twin boys and Amar’s wife at home (Can someone smell what is coming?). As soon as Amar leaves the house goons come to incapacitate Mrs. Singh and kidnap the little boys.

Amar and the frightened woman enter her house.

The way the light comes through the sari…
That’s magic. Lovely!

Once inside Amar is once again matched against Babubhai. Appealed to again and and again Amar refuses to join Babubhai’s evil club. Until, that is, that Ram aur Shankar are brought in and used as leverage.

Amar instructs his boys to run away. Once they are gone from the house, Amar breaks the lights in the house (ALL of them, but just shooting ONE lightbulb) and ambushes Babubhai and all of his goons in the dark. Grunts and shots ring out and the rest of the police force arrive just as the action ends.

Meanwhile, as they are running away, Ram aur Shankur are separated, and since we neither saw that coming OR understand what significance that will play in the following hours, I propose we just ignore such a plot device for the time being.

That’s sarcasm, folks.

In trial Amar is accused of illicit behavior and of murder and is sentenced to life in jail. Clearly he is convicted under false terms, but were he to get off scott-free that would make his sure-to-come-revenge all the less sweet. Amar is carted off to jail.

Fast forward 20 years or so, or however long it takes Shashi to turn into a 30 something, and feast your eyes on adult Shankar:

He’s a facial hair wearing, swashbuckling, oddly moralistic con man with a knack for disguises and very, I’m talking impossibly fast, costume changes.

Shankar has done the unthinkable. He has one-upped Babubhai and stolen the Don’s stolen goods. Because that cannot be tolerated, especially from such a young whippersnapper, Babubhai sets him up with Bindiya at a night club.

Shakar, totally enjoys himself,

And essentially, falls for it:

Falling for the dashing diva only gets Shankar in thick with Babubhai and he takes a job from the Don. Heists, cons and narrow escapes ensue and we have the joy of seeing Shankar work his disguises for all they’re worth.

In other news, Amar Singh is release from prison, apparently having outlived a lifetime sentence and goes undercover in attempts to infiltrate Babubhai’s inner circle in hopes of enacting his revenge. During this time, Shankar gets aquatinted with both of his parents, not that he knows it of course.

In order to deal with the swelling of crime that Shankar has brought upon the town, the police decide to bring in an Inspector Ram, from Delhi, who will be handling the case. Being all that we want him to be, Ram meets and falls in love with a lovely ladki, Roopa (Neetu Singh) in the airport.

Look at his eager little boy body language!
Cho chweet!

Without warning, Roopa is taken immediately upon landing to the villain’s lair where her father is being held for reasons that aren’t really specified, but she pleads for his release, and becomes distraught when she witnesses his torture at the hands of a machine that… heats him up(?).

Thinking that it will set her father free, Roopa agrees to work for the bad guys. The goons have discovered the doppleganger Ram after a few hours of mistaken identity and accidently foiled plans wherein I got really confused trying to tell both Shashis (in disguises) apart from one another. Suffice it to say that my dreams came true in one disguise….

In the name of all things holy, Shashi as a Sardarji is the most UNFAIR yet
amazing thing EVER. 
Roopa agrees to take on the job of seducing Ram to get him into the cavern of villainocity. She proceeds to meet him at a pool, pretend to drown, then pretend to get drunk and entices him with a sexy song in his bedroom. I love Neetu so much.
The short and short of seduction by Neetu Singh is that it works. Ram falls heads over tops with Roopa and accompanies her to an art gallery (Date win!) where they snuggle a bit before she insists she go study a particular engraving before she pulls a lever which causes him to fall through the floor and into the cavernous jail in the villain’s lair.
Ram is lucky enough to land in a cell that shares bars with Roopa’s father. At first angered by her betrayal, Ram settles down after he learns that Roopa is only cooperating with the thugs in a hope to save her beloved Babaji.
On the outside, Pran has donned the guise of a leprechaun and invades a political rally to shame the politicians and demand the end of poverty in India. There is also a map of India… made out of people.
Back in the underground jail, a fight breaks out between Ram and the head thug wherein fire torches are thrown.
Ram is presumed dead and is dropped into the ocean. Fortunately he survives and climbs out onto the beach sparkling with sea water dripping from his curls. Yum. He hightails it over to the police department where Shankar has been impersonating him. The police chief bids Ram to hid behind the door while he calls in the impostor. Ram and Shankar meet at stare at each other in amazement.
His deceit found out Shankar runs back to Babubhai and kidnaps an old woman, who will later turn out to be his mother. On his way to catch him, Ram encounters the soon-to-be-kidnapped Maa who informs him of who he is and who his brother is. A hop and a skip before you know it and we’re all corralled into the villain’s lair awaiting the last 30 minutes of dishoom!
During the battle Ram informs Shankar of their brotherly bond and that he kidnapped their very own Maa! In a secret winking ceremony while scuffling, the two boys decide to work together in bringing down the Don. Thankfully, the happily reunited sons and Maa don’t have to wait too long before their long lost Babaji, Amar Singh, reappears and kicks the tar out of the bad guys.
Then, in order to get her revenge, Roopa pops out of a trunk pointing a pistol. Can I repeat it? I love Neetu Singh.
It all ends with the Police Chief showing up, Roopa being threatened and the Don getting his just rewards for being such an awful man.
Then, Shankar must face the consequences of his actions, but in a total b!t*h move, his dad makes his own twin brother arrest him. My disk ended abruptly after the cuffs were on and Shankar was smiling manically. I kind of hope that wasn’t the real ending, because it was totally creepy.
Ok. I’d be all analytical and stuff, but this post totally exhausted me. Granted, I was toiling over a pot of chai at the same time, more than visibly concerned that I’ll make an awful filmi wife one day**. Oh, and I’m not analytical. However, I did really like Bindu’s cabaret song, seen here.
And, just for some gleeful things, extra screen-caps of pyaaaaar:
I was so obsessed with this wall. 
SO going in my house….
when I grow up enough to get a house.
Those hands.
The very Piet Mondria entrance to the liar.
*I’m awful at remembering important dates and anniversaries. It’s not always the men!
**Don’t judge me.

4 thoughts on “Shankar Dada, 1976

  1. So I am clearly being slowly infected with the Shashi love because I saw the screencaps of him and was like HMMM I WANT THIS TOO and then I was like WAIT WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU VANESSA and now I am all confused about things. Dammit Shashi. DAMMIT.

  2. Heehee! Ness, Shashi will get you yet! :) This movie is bonkers-o-rama, and I am still not sure if it is very good or very bad or just very its own thing. Erin, I will email you about what I think your disk might have been missing! Also, you will be happy to know that staircase/wallpaper appears in at least two other films (including one with Shashi) and in one of them you see the attached living room and it has equally insane fabric/furniture combinations. I read somewhere that folks in Bombay would rent out their houses to film crews, so I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope that was a real house that real people walked through every day without going blind and/or crazy. Though then again, how awesome would it be for a villain to decorate the police inspector's house with psychosis- and/or blindness-inducing wallpaper?

  3. Ness: HAHAHAHA! YOU WILL BE CONVERTED! You cannot, CANNOT refuse the allure of the SHASHI!Beth: I pray that this house with the wall is someone's REAL house. And that they never redecorated. And somehow I manage to sneak inside. And live there. :)

  4. Wow. Shashi as a nachnewali is looking pretty awesome. But what I really want to see this movie for the is the LAIR.Also "Roopa pops out of a trunk" made me snort. Awesome!

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