Highly under-rated, performance driven, script oriented and impeccable: This Movie of the 70's is a no-miss!
Kaala Patthar is Yash Chopra’s finest and most under rated film. It is undoubtedly the best Salim-Javed have ever written.
Made on a gi-normous budget, the film was deemed a failure simply because of the costs that went in to making the film, and sadly while films like Deewar and Trishul are still talked about today, Kaala Patthar remains as one of the movies of those times.
Kaala Patthar has been inspired by a real-life mining disaster that took place in India December 27, 1975 in the ‘Chasanala’ charcoal mine in Bihar. When the mine got flooded with water, 572 workers were killed during the mishap.
This film exemplifies that disaster. It is an intense and dramatic film about the lives of mine workers.
The unbeatable duo - Salim-Javed, through the script of Kaala Patthar have covered a number of subjects of the human heart. They have written a completely complex, layered and fine plot surrounding by the passion of human interest stories. The story lands in the hands of the legendary Yash Chopra, who films Kaala Patthar with incomparable sets, an impeccable cast and crew and peppered with emotions that define Indian cinema.
Vijay Pal Singh played by Amitabh Bachchan is a run-away, traitor-like, guilty, Merchant Navy officer of high principles. Branded as a coward and court-martialled Vijay leaves his unpleasant past behind him and turns to the deep dark tunnels of a coal mine.
An energetic and charming engineer, Shahi Kapoor, playing Ravi, befriends Vijay at the coal mine. Parveen Babi, (Anita) a journalist and Rahkee (Dr. Suddha) become their love interests and soften the plot with their sensual relationship of commitment and loyalty.
But these are characters every film consises of. Because as history has shown, like Damon of The Vampire Diaries, the Bad guy with the BIG heart, is always the one the audience woos for and cheers till the end! Mangal played callously by Shatrughan Sinha is a character that you will remember years after you’ve watched this mega film.
Mangal is an escaped convict who lands up at the coal mine in order to escape the wrath of the law, a bully by nature and cocky is gait, Mangal strikes a natural enmity with Vijay and the two constantly clash. But Mangal also brings ground root stark humor and represents the ‘nobody’s’ of India in the film.
Seth Dhanraj played villainously by Prem Chopra is the man with gold in the pockets who wants to dig up the mine till it bursts. Profits over people, 'Crores over Bros' and in the process of it all risking the lives of numerous workers as the proximity of water to the digging increases.
As expected the water bursts and floods the mine and that is when, the audience finds their cheeks wet, as Vijay,Ravi and Mangal intrigue you by coming together and rescuing the workers from the mines.
But the story goes beyond that, Salim-Javed once again capture a moment in time, the plight of the grass-root level working man of India – Mangal as he brings out those suppressed feelings of friendship, trust and undying loyalty, and all so from a convict.
The troubles of ordinary men have been magnificently painted on celluloid with a sense of earthy reality through Kaala Patthar.
India has seen many disaster films, but Chopra definitely deserves full credit for the manner in which he brings together a huge multi-cast and gives each member of the cast a superbly etched character to play.
Amitabh Bachchan delivers a fantastic performance and his withdrawal into solitude is impressive. With a flame of anger in his eyes and confidence in his actions, he delivers minimum words and still makes a thunderous impact.
There have been very few films of the great Shatrughan Sinha I have ever really like, but Kaala Patthar sure makes it to a number One. Sinha plays a fine bully and does a superb job.
His body language, delivery and style matches the carefree, rugged nature of his character rather well. His conflict with Amitabh is without a shred of doubt one of the films highlights, and the two light the screen on fire each time they share it.
Shashi Kapoor is tremendous here. Usually the audiences find him to be somewhat overshadowed in some of the multi-starrers of the 70’s but here he holds his own ground and leaves his ever-lasting watermark.
Rakhee Gulzar is top-notch! She looks absolutely amazing, and plays her part to polished perfection. Her sequences with Bachchan are just so well timed that their chemistry on screen crackles.
Prem Chopra does a fine villainy act as the money-hungry businessman. The sequence towards the end where Bachchan asks him to name the workers by their name as he beats the shit out of him is again a clap-worthy moment!
Neetu Singh is natural to the core in her part. Parveen Babi leaves a mark in her small role. Sanjeev Kumar is OK in a blink-and-miss role. Parikshit Sahini is superlative in his part. The usual suspects from the golden age like Satyen Kapoo, Mac Mohan, Yunus Parvez, Satyendra Kapoor, Iftekar, and Jagdish Raaj all provide great support. Sharat Saxena as the lecherous baddie plays Ace.
Music Director Rajesh Roshan does a beautiful job. Each and every song in the movie is a knock-out melody to the ears.
Technically Kaala Patthar is way forward for its times. Kay Gee’s camerawork juxtaposed with some blistering special effects from Hollywood’s Glen Robinson make up for one visually exciting film. The entire climax sequence completely achieves the unmissed perfection of a thriller-disaster film, underground.
Kaala Patthar is a film way ahead of its times, despite having everything going for it, the movie sadly didn’t blow at thebox-office moreso it didn’t even do well monetarily! It is unfortunate that one of Chopra’s most flawless works of cinema is not even discussed as much as his dramatized, week at the centre, more ga-ga other films that made it huge.
Yash Chopra surely deserves a huge pat on the back for this one!