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Amar Akbar Anthony

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Amar Akbar Anthony
Theatrical release poster
Directed byManmohan Desai
Written byKader Khan (dialogue)
K. K. Shukla (scenario)
Screenplay byPrayag Raj Sharma
Story byJeevanprabha M. Desai
Pushpa Sharma (story idea)
Produced byManmohan Desai
StarringVinod Khanna
Rishi Kapoor
Amitabh Bachchan
Neetu Singh
Parveen Babi
Shabana Azmi
Nirupa Roy
CinematographyPeter Pereira
Edited byKamlakar Karkhanis
Music byLaxmikant–Pyarelal
Anand Bakshi (lyrics)
Distributed byHirawat Jain & Co.
Release date
  • 27 May 1977 (1977-05-27)
Running time
184 minutes
Box officeest. 155 million (equivalent to 4.3 billion or US$52 million in 2023)[3]

Amar Akbar Anthony is a 1977 Indian Hindi-language masala film directed and produced by Manmohan Desai and written by Kader Khan. Released in India on 27 May 1977, the film stars an ensemble cast of Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Neetu Singh, Parveen Babi, Shabana Azmi, Nirupa Roy and Pran. The plot focuses on three brothers separated in childhood who are adopted by families of different faiths; Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. They grow up to be a police officer, a qawwali singer and the owner of a country 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 (US$17.69 million) at the Indian box office, becoming the highest-grossing Indian film of that year, alongside Dharam Veer and Hum Kisise Kum Naheen.[3]

Religious tolerance became a landmark theme in Bollywood masala films,[4] building on the masala formula pioneered a few years earlier by Nasir Hussain's Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973).[5][6] 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 the 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),[7] and in Malayalam as John Jaffer Janardhanan (1982). In Pakistan, the film was unofficially remade in Punjabi as Akbar Amar Anthony (1978).[8]


On 15 August 1955, the lower middle-class Kishanlal is released from prison after taking the blame for a fatal hit-and-run accident committed by the merciless crime lord Robert, for whom he used to work as a chauffeur. Despite Robert's assurance that his family's welfare will be taken care of, Kishanlal returns home to find his wife Bharati suffering from tuberculosis and their three infant sons malnourished. Enraged, Kishanlal storms off to Robert's mansion and begs for his assistance and restitution, but is cruelly humiliated and rebuffed by Robert. A vengeful Kishanlal raises a fight with Robert's gang, but is forced to run for his life in one of Robert's cars loaded with smuggled gold bullion while being pursued by Robert's men. After arriving back home, Kishanlal finds his sons abandoned by Bharati with a suicide note stating that she is unwilling to be a burden on him and has therefore run away from home to end her life. Kishanlal picks up his sons and uses Robert's car as a getaway vehicle to rush to the Borivali National Park to avoid capture. While there, he leaves his sons under the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in his oldest son's care and drives off to lead Robert's henchmen away from them before being presumed dead by both Robert's henchmen and the police in the ensuing fiery car accident.

In the meantime, the three children have been separated - the oldest one, Amar, having been knocked down by the car driven by Robert's henchmen, is adopted by the Hindu Police Superintendent Khanna; the middle one Anthony, falling asleep outside a nearby Catholic church with Bharati's suicide note in hand, is taken in by the large-hearted Christian priest Father Gonsalves; and the youngest son Raju, left under the statue in the park, is picked up by a kind Muslim tailor Darji Ilahabadi. Elsewhere, Bharati is struck blind by a falling branch in the storm as divine punishment for leaving her sons behind. She is later rescued and dropped off home on the way by Mr. Ilahabadi, though she is unable to recognize Raju due to her blind sight. Kishanlal, having escaped the fiery car accident, returns with Robert's smuggled gold bullion in search of his sons, only to find the park empty and his sons gone, much to his distraught.

22 years later, Bharati, now a flower seller, is a hit-and-run victim outside a church and is rushed by Anthony, who is the bootlegging Robin Hood of the neighbourhood, to a private hospital. At the hospital, Raju, renamed as Akbar and a famed qawwali singer, is busy romancing Dr. Salma Ali, whose grumpy father Taiyyab Ali disapproves of their relationship. Amar, as a police inspector, also arrives at the hospital to check on the accident case, and all three men donate blood at the same time to Bharati. Later on, Amar, tracking down a highway robbery case, comes across Lakshmi, who is being forced by her abusive stepmother and violent stepbrother Ranjeet, to act as a small-time thief while she is taking care of her elderly, wheelchair-bound grandmother. Amar rescues Lakshmi by arresting her stepmother and offering refuge to her and her grandmother.

Elsewhere, Kishanlal is now a wealthy crime lord as he used the stolen gold bullion to drive Robert's crime syndicate out of business and force a jobless Robert to work for him while taking in Robert's daughter Jenny as his own and sending over her to studies abroad. However, Kishanlal and his henchmen are forced to vacate their loading dock raided by the police. The ensuing chaos result in Robert escaping with another shipment of Kishanlal's smuggled gold bullion and shooting Superintendent Khanna non-fatally in the process. Using the new smuggled gold bullion, Robert regains his former position as crime lord and intends to retrieve Jenny and kill Kishanlal for destroying his business; even hiring Ranjeet following his mother's arrest. At the same time, Jenny returns after completing her studies abroad, and Anthony falls head over heels in love with her during a church sermon on Easter Sunday. After suffering from a minor head injury while escaping from Robert, Bharati miraculously regains her eyesight at a festival honouring the Sai Baba of Shirdi that is hosted by Akbar, whom she proceeds to identify as Raju from his childhood photograph at home, thanks to Mr. Ilahabadi's reminder of having encountered Bharati earlier during her branch accident. Simultaneously, Akbar saves Salma and Taiyyab from a house fire arranged by some prostitutes who were blackmailing Taiyyab. A grateful Taiyyab gives his blessings to Akbar and Salma's relationship and this event leads both Akbar and Amar to learn that they are brothers and that Kishanlal and Bharati are their parents.

However, things take a drastic turn when Kishanlal is double-crossed by one of his bodyguards Zebisco, who kidnaps Jenny and sells her out to Robert in exchange of her hand in marriage. Father Gonsalves and Lakshmi witnessed the kidnapping, but Lakshmi ends up being captured by Ranjeet while Father Gonsalves ends up being murdered by Robert. After learning about Father Gonsalves' death, Anthony quickly discovers that both Kishanlal and Bharati are his parents and that Amar and Akbar are his brothers. The three brothers are then determined to make Robert pay for his crimes, so they respectively disguise themselves as a one-man band, an elderly tailor and a catholic priest and succeed in entering his mansion, accompanied by Salma, who assists Lakshmi and Jenny in escaping. The three brothers then reveal themselves and beat up Robert, Zebisco, Ranjeet and all the remaining henchmen up before having them all arrested and sent to prison for their crimes. However, Bharati is distraught to learn that Kishanlal is sent back to prison for his previous crimes, but the latter assures to her that their family is reunited once again, which is the only thing that matters to him; Superintendent Khanna (who has recovered from his wounds) briefly releases Kishanlal so that he can share a hug with his sons. The film ends with the three brothers driving joyfully with their loved ones in the sunset.




  • Jeevan as Robert
  • Yusuf Khan as Zebisco (Jenny's bodyguard)
  • Mukri as Taiyyab Ali (Salma's father)
  • Nazir Hussain as Father Gonsalves (Anthony's adoptive father)
  • Kamal Kapoor as Superintendent Khanna (Amar's adoptive father)
  • Hercules as Raghu
  • Shivraj as Mr. Ilahabadi (Akbar's adoptive father)
  • Prathima Devi as Lakshmi's grandmother
  • Moolchand as Pedro (Robert's friend)

Special appearance[edit]

  • Helen as Fake Jenny
  • Nadira as Lakshmi's stepmother
  • Madhumati
  • Ranjeet as Ranjeet (Lakshmi's stepbrother)


"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[9]

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. Waqt also inspired 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.[10][11]

Prayag Raj wrote the film's screenplay, while Kader Khan wrote the dialogue.[12]

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.[13][14] 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.”[13][15] The nonsensical monologue preceding the "My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves" sequence was taken in part from an 1878 speech by British politician Benjamin Disraeli in reference to W. E. Gladstone.[13]


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.[13][16] 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[17] 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.[18][19] Philip Lutgendorf hints that the separation of the three children on Indian Independence Day is akin to the Partition of India.[20] Similarly, Vijay Mishra (2013) argues that the film reaffirmed India's "liberal ethos." [21] 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).[22] The characters' reunion with their parents completes the nationalistic allegory,[18][19] suggesting that what was lost at independence can be regained.[23]

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.[24] Dickson (2016) commented that the film featured a plot which would "give even Shakespeare migraines."[25] Some authors also highlight the archetypal character of the suffering and self-sacrificing mother (Roy).[26] 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."[27]


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 songs:

The song "Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyar" is notable for bringing Mukesh, Rafi, Kumar and Mangeshkar together for the first and only occasion in their careers.[13] The film also features a comical filmi qawwali entitled "Parda Hai Parda" sung by Rafi,[28] with a single line (for Bachchan) supplied by an uncredited Amit Kumar.[29]

Original tracklist[30][31]
1."Ye Sach Hai Koi Kahani Nahin"Mohammed Rafi2:22
2."Amar Akbar Anthony"Kishore Kumar, Mahendra Kapoor, Shailendra Singh5:52
3."Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyar"Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh7:33
4."Taiyabali Pyar Ka Dushman"Mohammed Rafi4:40
5."Parda Hai Parda"Mohammed Rafi7:59
6."Shirdi Wale Sai Baba"Mohammed Rafi5:52
7."My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves"Kishore Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan5:32


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.[32][33] Incidentally, all of these would be amongst the top-grossing films of the year.[3]


For the film's marketing, erasers with the images of Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, and Amitabh Bachchan were sold to students.[34] Posters, postcards, and song booklets of the film were sold in shops.[citation needed] Colourful 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 (US$17.69 million) at the Indian box office and was the highest-grossing Bollywood film at the Indian Box Office for the year 1977.[3] It has since been regarded as one of the most iconic films of Indian cinema.[35]

Adjusted for inflation, the film has grossed approximately 423 crores ($51 million) as of 2023.


In 2023, Time Out ranked it #10 on its list of the "100 Best Bollywood Movies."[36]

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. ^ Sadana, Rashmi (2 February 2012). English Heart, Hindi Heartland: The Political Life of Literature in India. University of California Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-520-26957-6. Archived from the original on 31 August 2023. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  2. ^ Elison, William (4 January 2016). Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation. Harvard University Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-674-49599-9. Archived from the original on 31 August 2023. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d "Box office 1977". Box Office India. 2011. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ ET Bureau (20 September 2008). "Transcending language barrier". The Economic Times. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Dasgupta, Rohit K.; Datta, Sangeeta (2019). 100 essential Indian films. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 6. ISBN 9781442277984. Archived from the original on 31 August 2023. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Talash". Pakistan Film Magazine. n.d. Archived from the original on 17 July 2019. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Excerpt: Amar Akbar Anthony". Mint. 3 August 2013. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Booth, p. 3
  15. ^ Booth, p. 5
  16. ^ San Miguel, Helio (2012). Mumbai. World Film Locations. Intellect Books. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-84150-632-6.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ a b Kavoori, Anandam P.; Punathambekar, Aswin (2008). Global Bollywood. NYU Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8147-2944-1.
  20. ^ Lutgendorf, Philip (2014). "Amar Akbar Anthony". Indian cinema. University of Iowa. Archived from the original on 27 June 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  21. ^ Mishra, Vijay (2013). Bollywood cinema: Temples of desire. Routledge. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-135-31099-8.
  22. ^ Damsteegt, Theo, ed. (2003). Heroes and heritage: The protagonist in Indian literature and film. Leiden University. p. 217. ISBN 978-90-5789-090-1.
  23. ^ Nochimson, Martha P. (23 September 2011). World on film: An introduction. John Wiley & Sons. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4443-5833-9.
  24. ^ Varia, Kush (2013). Bollywood: Gods, glamour, and gossip. Columbia University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-231-50260-3.
  25. ^ Dickson, Andrew (2016). Worlds elsewhere: Journeys around Shakespeare's globe. Henry Holt and Company. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-8050-9735-1. Archived from the original on 31 August 2023. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Raheja, Dinesh (22 March 2003). "Amar Akbar Anthony: Whoop-it-up fun!". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 24 July 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Diptakirti Chaudhuri, "Bollygeek: The Crazy Trivia Guide to Bollywood", Hachette India, 2021.
  30. ^ "Amar Akbar Anthony (Original motion picture soundtrack)". Apple Inc. January 1981. Archived from the original on 31 January 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  31. ^ "Amar, Akbar, and Anthony soundtrack credits". IMDb. Archived from the original on 4 November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  32. ^ Whitener, Brian (2007). "Amar Akbar Anthony". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  33. ^ Ganti, Tejaswini (5 March 2013). Bollywood: A guidebook to popular Hindi cinema. Routledge. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-415-58384-8.
  34. ^ "100 Filmfare Days: 49- Amar Akbar Anthony". Filmfare. 10 June 2014. Archived from the original on 1 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  35. ^ "70 iconic films of Indian cinema". Mint. 18 August 2017. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  36. ^ "The 100 best Bollywood movies". Time Out. 7 February 2023. Retrieved 28 November 2023.

External links[edit]