Amar Akbar Anthony

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Amar Akbar Anthony
Amar Akbar Anthony 1977 film poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byManmohan Desai
Written byKader Khan (dialogue)
K.K. Shukla (scenario)
Screenplay byPrayag Raj
Story byJeevanprabha M. Desai
Pushpa Sharma (story idea)
Produced byManmohan Desai
StarringVinod Khanna
Rishi Kapoor
Amitabh Bachchan
Shabana Azmi
Neetu Singh
Parveen Babi
Nirupa Roy
CinematographyPeter Pereira
Edited byKamlakar Karkhanis
Music byLaxmikant–Pyarelal
Anand Bakshi (lyrics)
Distributed byHirawat Jain & Co
Release date
27 May 1977
Running time
184 mins
Box officeest. 155 million[1]

Amar Akbar Anthony is an Indian Hindi-language masala film which released on 27 May 1977,[2] directed and produced by Manmohan Desai, and written by Kader Khan. The film stars Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan opposite Shabana Azmi, Neetu Singh and Parveen Babi are in the lead roles. The plot focuses on three brothers who are separated in childhood and adopted by three families of different faiths—Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. They grow up to be a policeman, a qawwali singer, and an owner of a country liquor bar, respectively.

The soundtrack album was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and the lyrics were written by Anand Bakshi. The film was released on 27 May 1977 and earned ₹155 million at the Indian box office, becoming the highest-grossing Indian film of that year, alongside Dharam Veer and Hum Kisise Kum Naheen.

Religious tolerance became a landmark theme in Bollywood masala films,[3] building on the masala formula pioneered several years earlier with Nasir Hussain's Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973).[4][5] Amar Akbar Anthony also had a lasting impact on pop culture, with its catchy songs, quotable one-liners, and the character of Anthony Gonsalves (played by Bachchan). It won several awards at 25th Filmfare Awards, including Best Actor, Best Music Director and Best Editing. It was later remade in Tamil as Shankar Salim Simon (1978), in Telugu as Ram Robert Rahim (1980),[6] and in Malayalam as John Jaffer Janardhanan (1982). In Pakistan, the film was unofficially remade in Punjabi as Akbar Amar Anthony (1978).[7]


In Mumbai, on 15 August 1955, a chauffeur named Kishanlal is released from prison after taking the blame for a fatal hit-and-run accident committed by his employer, the notorious crime boss Robert. Despite Robert's assurance that his family's welfare will be looked after, Kishanlal learned that Robert did not lift even a finger for the man's family as his wife Bharati is suffering from tuberculosis while his three sons are starving. Kishanlal seeks help from Robert, who instead humiliates him and orders his henchmen to kill him. However, Kishanlal escapes in one of Robert's cars loaded with smuggled gold bullion.

Kishanlal returns home to find his sons abandoned by Bharati, who had left a suicide note. Kishanlal then takes his sons and leaves them at the foot of Mahatma Gandhi statue in Borivali Park and tells them to wait and that he would return, while he drives off to draw away Robert's henchmen. In an inflamed car crash, Kishanlal is presumed dead by the mobsters and the police, but actually survives. Before his return with the smuggled gold, Kishanlal is distraught to learn that his sons are gone. However, each of the sons are found and adopted: one by a Hindu policeman named Superintendent Khanna, one by a Muslim tailor named Mr. Ilahabadi, and one by a Christian priest named Father Gonsalves. In the meantime, Bharati is struck by a falling branch following her suicide attempt and loses her eye sight. Bharati is distraught to hear from the police that Kishanlal and the boys died from the car crash. Having seemingly lost his dear family, Kishanlal angrily swears vengeance on Robert.

22 years later in 1977, the sons have grown up. The eldest son became a Hindu policeman named Inspector Amar Khanna, the youngest son became a Muslim qawwali singer named Akbar Ilahabadi, and the middle-born son became a Christian licensed liquor seller named Anthony Gonsalves. The three met each other while donating blood for a hit-and-run victim, unaware that the blind recipient is Bharati, who is now selling flowers. In the meantime, Kishanlal is now a wealthy crime lord as he used the smuggled gold to form his own crime syndicate and relied on his connections to destroy Robert's business before forcing a penniless Robert to work for him. It is also revealed that Kishanlal also took in Robert's daughter Jenny as his niece and sent her abroad for college, and that she has returned after graduating.

As the story unfolds, each of the three sons finds themselves falling in love. Anthony falls in love with Jenny at a church sermon during Easter Sunday, Amar takes in a one-time crook named Lakshmi and her grandmother after arresting her abusive stepmother, and Akbar falls in love with a young doctor named Salma Ali, whose father Taiyyab disapproves of their relationship. During a police raid on one of Kishanlal's loading docks, Kishanlal and his men are forced to flee, allowing Robert to escape with another shipment of smuggled gold bullion after shooting Superintendent Khanna. Regaining his former position as crime lord and rounding up new mobsters to his cause, Robert intends to retrieve Jenny for himself and get vengeance on Kishanlal for destroying his business.

Eventually, Bharati miraculously regains her eyesight at a festival hosted by Akbar that is honoring Sai Baba of Shirdi. She recognizes Akbar as her youngest son Raju, when she sees a photograph of him as a child, and Mr. Ilahabadi recognizes Bharati as the woman he rescued from the falling branch and dropped her home years ago. However, Kishanlal is double-crossed by one of his bodyguards Zebisco, who betrays Jenny to Robert in exchange for her hand in marriage. While Jenny is getting kidnapped by Robert and Zebisco, Father Gonsalves tries to save her, but Robert murders him. Lakshmi is kidnapped by her abusive stepbrother Ranjeet, who also works for Robert. Taiyyab and Salma find themselves in a house fire arranged by some prostitutes who worked under Taiyyab. However, Akbar saves Salma and Taiyyab, who gratefully gives his blessings to Akbar and Salma's relationship. In their pursuit of justice against Robert after learning what happened, the three brothers finally discover their mutual heritage with each other along with Kishanlal and Bharati, reuniting the family once again.

Determined to make Robert and his men pay for their crimes, the three brothers pose as an elderly tailor, a one-man band, and a Catholic priest and infiltrate Robert's mansion along with Salma, who helps Jenny and Lakshmi escape. The three brothers then reveal themselves and beat up Robert and his men (including Ranjeet and Zebisco) before having them all arrested and sent to prison for their crimes. However, Bharati is distraught to learn that Kishanlal has been sent back to prison for his past crimes, but Kishanlal comforts her by saying that the only thing that matters to him is that their family is reunited once again. Kishanlal is allowed to share a brief heartfelt hug with his sons, who then ride happily into the sunset with their loved ones.



"You see the whole country of the system is juxtapositioned by the hemoglobin in the atmosphere, because you are a sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated with the exuberance of your own verbosity."

—Anthony Gonsalves, in his monologue preceding the "My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves" sequence[8]

Amar Akbar Anthony has a cinematic antecedent in Yash Chopra's 1965 film Waqt, in which a father's three sons are separated from each other. Amar Akbar Anthony was also inspired by the 1976 super-hit diamond jubilee Pakistani film Talash, starring Shabnam and Nadeem. However, Amar Akbar Anthony was slated to release in 1975, prior to Talash's release.[9][10]

Prayag Raj wrote the film's screenplay, while Kader Khan wrote the dialogue.[11]

The character of Anthony Gonsalves was named after the famous composer and teacher of the same name, whose pupils included Pyarelal (of Laxmikant–Pyarelal, the composer duo of the film) and R. D. Burman.[12][13] Director Manmohan Desai had planned for Amitabh's character to be named “Anthony Fernandes,” with Bakshi’s song entitled “My Name is Anthony Fernandes.” However, the song didn’t go well with Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Composer Pyarelal then recalled his famous violin teacher and suggested that the character’s last name be changed to “Gonsalves.”[12][14] The nonsensical monologue preceding the "My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves" sequence was taken in part from a 1878 speech by British politician Benjamin Disraeli in reference to W. E. Gladstone.[12]


Amar Akbar Anthony was Manmohan Desai's first film as an independent film producer. The film was shot over a month at Ranjit Studios in Mumbai. Some exterior and interior shots were filmed at the Mount Mary Church in Bandra, Mumbai and at the Don Bosco School,Wadala,Mumbai respectively.[12][15] Shooting was scheduled so that the entire cast didn't have to appear together except for the climactic sequence and the title song ("Anhoni Ko Honi"), where they all perform as a group. However, the shooting went over schedule, which required Rishi Kapoor and Shabana Azmi to shoot their scenes separately so they could leave towards the end of production to work on other films.


Amar Akbar Anthony incorporates a strong element of secularism[16] within a Bollywood masala film. Analysts such as Virdi (2003) and Kavoori & Punathambekar (2008) opine that the themes of Desai's "magnum opus" include religious pluralism and secular nationalism.[17][18] Philip Lutgendorf hints that the separation of the three children on Indian Independence Day is akin to the Partition of India.[19] Similarly, Vijay Mishra (2013) aruges that the film reaffirmed India's "liberal ethos." [20] The three religions represented by the titular characters are the "pillars of the nation:" when they work together, they can restore life to their mother (represented when they donate blood during the opening title sequence) and beat any evil (symbolised by their common villain).[21] The characters' reunion with their parents completes the nationalistic allegory,[17][18] suggesting that what was lost at independence can be regained.[22]

The film's masala style is evident in its plot and characters. According to Varia (2013), Amar Akbar Anthony was conceived as a tragedy but later incorporated many other genres.[23] Dickson (2016) commented that the film featured a plot which would "give even Shakespeare migraines."[24] Some authors also highlight the archetypal character of the suffering and self-sacrificing mother (Roy).[25] However, Dinesh Raheja concludes that "ultimately, the show belongs to Amitabh Bachchan. In a tailor-made role, he has the audience in stitches. Despite his playing an implausible character, one quickly surrenders one's reservations in favour of a rollicking romp."[26]


Amar Akbar Anthony
Soundtrack album by
Released7 January 1977
GenreFeature Film Soundtrack
LabelUniversal Music India
ProducerManmohan Desai

Amar Akbar Anthony's soundtrack was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, with lyrics penned by Anand Bakshi. It proved as popular and successful as the film itself.[citation needed] The vinyl record, released on Polydor, was the first LP that was coloured pink.[citation needed]

Some of the biggest names in the Indian music industry of the time provided vocals for the film's songs. Four leading playback singers, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, and Lata Mangeshkar, sang together for the first and only occasion in their careers on "Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyar."[12] In this song, Rafi sang for Rishi Kapoor, Mukesh for Vinod Khanna, and Kumar for Amitabh Bachchan, while Mangeshkar sang for Shabana Azmi, Neetu Singh, and Parveen Babi. The film also features a comical filmi qawwali entitled "Parda Hai Parda" ("There Is a Veil"), sung by Rafi.[27] Other musical legends who worked on the film include Mahendra Kapoor and Shailendra Singh.

Original tracklist[28][29]
1."Ye Sach Hai Koi Kahani Nahin"Mohammad Rafi02:22
2."Amar Akbar Anthony"Kishore Kumar, Mahendra Kapoor, Shailendra Singh05:52
3."Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyar"Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar07:33
4."Taiyabali Pyar Ka Dushman"Mohammad Rafi04:40
5."Parda Hai Parda"Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar (Special Appearance)[citation needed]07:59
6."Shirdi Wale Sai Baba"Mohammad Rafi05:52
7."My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves"Kishore Kumar05:32


The Emergency Period delayed the release of several of Manmohan Desai's films. As a result, four of Desai's films, Dharam Veer, Chacha Bhatija, Parvarish, and Amar Akbar Anthony, were released in 1977.[30][31] Incidentally, all of these would be amongst the top-grossing films of the year.[1]


For the film's marketing, erasers with the images of Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, and Amitabh Bachchan were sold to students.[32] Posters, postcards, and song booklets of the film were sold in shops.[citation needed] Colorful vests and metal crosses that were similar to the ones worn by Bachchan in the film achieved popularity.[citation needed]


The film grossed 155 million (equivalent to 3.5 billion or US$49 million in 2019) at the Indian box office and was the highest-grossing Bollywood film at the Indian Box Office for the year 1977.[1] It has since been regarded as one of the most iconic films of Indian cinema.[33]


Award Category Recipients and Nominees Results
25th Filmfare Awards Best Actor Amitabh Bachchan Won
Best Music Director Laxmikant–Pyarelal
Best Editing Kamlakar Karkhanis
Best Film Manmohan Desai Nominated
Best Director
Best Lyricist Anand Bakshi for "Parda Hai Parda"
Best Male Playback Singer Mohammed Rafi for "Parda Hai Parda"


  • Booth, Gregory D. (2008). Behind the curtain: Making music in Mumbai's film studios. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-971665-4.
  • Elison, William; Novetzke, Christian Lee; Rotman, Andy (2016). Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, brotherhood, and the nation. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674504486.
  • Haham, Connie (2006). Enchantment of the mind: Manmohan Desai's films. Roli Books. ISBN 978-81-7436-431-9.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Box office 1977". Box Office India. 2011. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  2. ^ Maderya, Kumuthan (22 June 2017). "From Amar Akbar Anthony to Baahubali: Whither Indian cinema's secularism?". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 22 September 2020. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  3. ^ Dwyer, Rachel (2005). 100 Bollywood films. Lotus Collection, Roli Books. p. 14. ISBN 978-81-7436-433-3. Archived from the original on 20 September 2016.
  4. ^ Sharma, Devansh (2 November 2018). "Yaadon Ki Baaraat: Nasir Hussain's 1973 potboiler initiated Hindi cinema's transformation into 'Bollywood'". Firstpost. Archived from the original on 9 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  5. ^ Manwani, Akshay (8 January 2018). "Yaadon Ki Baaraat: The quintessential bollywood film". Daily News and Analysis. Archived from the original on 9 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  6. ^ ET Bureau (20 September 2008). "Transcending language barrier". The Economic Times. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  7. ^ Rabe, Nate (2 September 2017). "Sounds of Lollywood: The big difference between 'Amar Akbar Anthony' and its Pakistani rip-off". Scroll. Archived from the original on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  8. ^ Heyman, Michael; Satpathy, Sumanyu; Ravishankar, Anushka (2007). The tenth rasa: An anthology of Indian nonsense. Penguin Books India. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-14-310086-7. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014.
  9. ^ Dasgupta, Rohit K.; Datta, Sangeeta (2019). 100 essential Indian films. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 6. ISBN 9781442277984.
  10. ^ "Talash". Pakistan Film Magazine. n.d. Archived from the original on 17 July 2019. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Excerpt: Amar Akbar Anthony". Mint. 3 August 2013. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d e Roy, Gitanjali (8 May 2013). "10 things you didn't know about Amar Akbar Anthony". NDTV Movies. Archived from the original on 15 July 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  13. ^ Booth, p. 3
  14. ^ Booth, p. 5
  15. ^ San Miguel, Helio (2012). Mumbai. World Film Locations. Intellect Books. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-84150-632-6.
  16. ^ Mohamed, Khalid (31 January 2018). "Muslims in the movies: The good, the bad, and the Khilji". The Quint. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  17. ^ a b Virdi, Jyotika (2003). The cinematic imagiNation: Indian popular films as social history. Rutgers University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-8135-3191-5.
  18. ^ a b Kavoori, Anandam P.; Punathambekar, Aswin (2008). Global Bollywood. NYU Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8147-2944-1.
  19. ^ Lutgendorf, Philip (2014). "Amar Akbar Anthony". Indian cinema. University of Iowa. Archived from the original on 27 June 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  20. ^ Mishra, Vijay (2013). Bollywood cinema: Temples of desire. Routledge. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-135-31099-8.
  21. ^ Damsteegt, Theo, ed. (2003). Heroes and heritage: The protagonist in Indian literature and film. Leiden University. p. 217. ISBN 978-90-5789-090-1.
  22. ^ Nochimson, Martha P. (23 September 2011). World on film: An introduction. John Wiley & Sons. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4443-5833-9.
  23. ^ Varia, Kush (2013). Bollywood: Gods, glamour, and gossip. Columbia University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-231-50260-3.
  24. ^ Dickson, Andrew (2016). Worlds elsewhere: Journeys around Shakespeare's globe. Henry Holt and Company. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-8050-9735-1.
  25. ^ Breckenridge, Carol A., ed. (1995). Consuming modernity: Public culture in a South Asian world. University of Minnesota Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-8166-2305-1.
  26. ^ Raheja, Dinesh (n.d.). "Amar Akbar Anthony: Whoop-it-up fun!". Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  27. ^ Morcom, Anna (1 January 2007). Hindi film songs and the cinema. Ashgate Publishing. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-7546-5198-7. Archived from the original on 23 March 2016.
  28. ^ "Amar Akbar Anthony (Original motion picture soundtrack)". Apple Inc. Archived from the original on 31 January 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  29. ^ "Amar, Akbar, and Anthony soundtrack credits". IMDb. Archived from the original on 4 November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  30. ^ Whitener, Brian (2007). "Amar Akbar Anthony". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  31. ^ Ganti, Tejaswini (5 March 2013). Bollywood: A guidebook to popular Hindi cinema. Routledge. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-415-58384-8.
  32. ^ "100 Filmfare Days: 49- Amar Akbar Anthony". Filmfare. 10 June 2014. Archived from the original on 1 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  33. ^ "70 iconic films of Indian cinema". Mint. 18 August 2017. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2018.

External links[edit]