Amar Akbar Anthony

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Amar Akbar Anthony
Amar Akbar Anthony 1977 film poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byManmohan Desai
Produced byManmohan Desai
Written byKader Khan (dialogue)
K.K. Shukla (scenario)
Screenplay byPrayag Raj
Story byJeevanprabha M. Desai
Pushpa Sharma (story idea)
StarringVinod Khanna
Amitabh Bachchan
Rishi Kapoor
Neetu Singh
Parveen Babi
Shabana Azmi
Nirupa Roy
Yusuf Khan
Music byLaxmikant-Pyarelal
Anand Bakshi (lyrics)
CinematographyPeter Pereira
Edited byKamlakar Karkhanis
Distributed byHirawat Jain & Co
Release date
  • 27 May 1977 (1977-05-27)
Running time
184 mins
Box officeest. 15.5 crore[1]

Amar Akbar Anthony is a 1977 Indian Hindi-language masala film,[2] directed and produced by Manmohan Desai, and written by Kader Khan. The film stars Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, and Rishi Kapoor opposite Shabana Azmi, Parveen Babi, and Neetu Singh 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 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 Amitabh 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]


On the 15 August 1955, a chauffeur named Kishanlal Tripathi (Pran) is released from prison after taking the blame for a fatal hit-and-run accident committed by his employer, the notorious crime boss Robert Seth (Jeevan). 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—coming home to three starving sons and his wife Bharati (Nirupa Roy), who is now suffering from tuberculosis. 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 a Mahatma Gandhi statue in a public park 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, he is distraught to learn that his sons are gone, unaware that each of them are found and adopted by the Hindu police superintendent Khanna, a Muslim tailor named Mr. Illhabadi, and a Christian priest named Father Gonsalves. In the meantime, Bharati is struck by a falling branch following her failed suicide attempt and loses her eyesight as punishment for leaving her sons behind; even becoming distraught to hear from the police that Kishanlal and the boys seemingly died from the car crash. Having seemingly lost his dear family, Kishanlal angrily swears vengeance on Robert for this.

22 years later, the sons have grown up; the eldest son is now a policeman named Amar Khanna (Vinod Khanna), the middle-born is a licensed liquor dealer named Anthony Gonsalves (Amitabh Bachchan), and the youngest is a qawwali singer named Akbar Ilahabadi. The three met each other while donating blood for a hit-and-run victim, unaware that the recipient is their mother 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 that he used 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 (Parveen Babi) as his niece and that she's returning from London after graduating college.

As the story unfolds, each of the three sons find 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 (Shabana Azmi) and her grandmother to his home after arresting Lakshmi's abusive stepmother, and Akbar falls in love with a young doctor named Salma Ali (Neetu Singh), whose father Tayyaib Ali (Mukri) disapproves of their relationship. Also, during a police raid on one of Kishanlal's loading docks, Kishanlal and his men were forced to escape, allowing Robert to escape with another shipment of 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 make Kishanlal pay for destroying his business.

Bharati miraculously regains her eyesight at a festival in honor of Sai Baba of Shirdi hosted by Akbar. She recognizes him as her youngest son Raju thanks to Mr. Illhabadi recognizing Bharati as the woman he rescued from the falling branch years ago. However, Kishanlal is double-crossed by one of his bodyguards Zubesko, who betrays Jenny to Robert in exchange for her hand in marriage, resulting Father Gonsalves' death by Robert when the priest tried to save Jenny. Lakshmi is also kidnapped by her abusive brother Ranjeet, who is working for Robert. Salma and Tayyaib are also placed in a house fire arranged by Robert after being taken hostage in the hospital, though Akbar saves them, resulting a grateful Tayyaib to give his blessings to Akbar and Salma's relationship. In their pursuit of justice against Robert, the three brothers discover their mutual heritage with each other along with Kishanlal and Bharati, reuniting the family once again.

Determined to make Robert pay for his 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 before beating up Robert and his men and having them arrested and sent to prison for their crimes. However, Bharati is distraught to learn that Kishanlal is 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. As such, Kishanlal is allowed to share a brief heartfelt hug with his sons, who then ride happily into the sunset with their loved ones.


  • Vinod Khanna as Amar Khanna/Amar Tripathi, the oldest brother who became a Hindu policeman.
    • Master Bittoo as a young Amar Tripathi
  • Rishi Kapoor as Akbar Illhabadi/Raju Tripathi, the youngest brother who became a Muslim singer.
    • Master Tito as a baby Raju Tripathi
  • Amitabh Bachchan as Anthony Gonsalves/Anthony Tripathi, the middle brother who became a Catholic liquor store owner.
    • Master Ravi as a young Anthony Tripathi
  • Shabana Azmi as Lakshmi, a one-time crook and Amar's love interest.
  • Neetu Singh as Salma Ali, a doctor and Akbar's love interest.
  • Parveen Babi as Jenny Seth, an Anglo-Indian and Anthony's love interest.
    • Baby Sabina as a baby Jenny
  • Pran as Kishanlal Tripathi, the biological father of the three brothers.
  • Nirupa Roy as Bharati Tripathi, the biological mother of the three brothers.
  • Jeevan as Robert Seth, Jenny's father and an infamous crime lord responsible for separating the Tripathi family apart.
    • Jeevan also played Albert Seth, Robert's estranged brother.
  • Mukri as Taiyyab Ali, Salma's father.
  • Nazir Hussain as Father Gonsalves, a Catholic priest who served as Anthony's adoptive father.
  • Ranjeet as Ranjeet, Lakshmi's abusive brother who works for Robert.
  • Yusuf Khan as Zubesko, one of Kishanlal's bodyguards secretly in league with Robert.
  • Helen as Fake Jenny, a woman hired by Kishanlal to pose as Jenny.
  • Kamal Kapoor as Inspector Khanna, the local police superintendent who served as Amar's adoptive father.
  • Shivraj as Mr. Illhabadi, a Muslim tailor who served as Akbar's adoptive father.
  • Prathima Devi as Lakshmi's grandmother.
  • Nadira as Lakshmi's abusive stepmother.


"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[8]

This film was 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] Additionally, Yash Chopra's 1965 film Waqt has similar plot line where a father's 3 sons are separated from each other.

Prayag Raaj wrote the film's screenplay, while Kader Khan wrote the dialogue.[11] In a famous sequence, Anthony Gonsalves, played by Amitabh Bachchan, jumps out of a large easter egg, wearing a black tuxedo complete with a top hat, monocle, and umbrella. In a mock accent, he speaks one of the most famous nonsensical dialogues in Bollywood cinema: "you are a sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated with the exuberance of your own verbosity."[8] This was in part taken from a 1878 speech by British politician Benjamin Disraeli, who made it while referring to another politician, W. E. Gladstone.[12] The name of Anthony Gonsalves was taken from the famous music arranger of the same name, whose pupils included R. D. Burman and Pyarelal of Laxmikant-Pyarelal, the composer duo of the film.[12][13]


The film was scheduled in such a way that the entire cast, including the three titular stars, didn't have to shoot together except for the climactic sequence and the title song, "Anhony Ko Honi", where they all perform together. It was shot over a period of a month at Ranjit Studios in Mumbai. However, the shooting would go beyond this period, thus requiring Rishi Kapoor and Shabana Azmi to shoot their scenes separately, as they would leave towards the end of production for other films.

The Mount Mary Church in Bandra, Mumbai, was used for exterior shots and Saint Philomenas church in Mysore India, for the interior shots.[11][12][14] Amar Akbar Anthony was Manmohan Desai's first film as an independent film producer.


Philip Lutgendorf of the University of Iowa hints that the separation of the three children on 15 August is akin to the partition of India.[15] Analysts such as Lutgendorf (2014), Virdi (2003), and Kavoori and Punathambekar (2008) opine that Desai's "magnum opus" extends religious pluralism, secular nationalism, and also clear secularist motifs albeit complete with Bollywood masala. The characters' reunion in the end completes the nationalistic allegory.[16][17] In a crucial scene when the opening titles appear, three brothers of different religions, donate blood to a blind woman, who unknowingly is their mother. The brothers and their parents are all united in the end, suggesting what was lost at independence, can be gained.[18] The final masquerade dance number, "Honi Ko Anhoni Karde", which leads to the film's climax, shows the entire cast at the villain's den. It highlights that the three religions represented by the titular characters are the "pillars of the nation;" when they work together, they can beat any evil, their common villain in this case.[19] In this sense, the film has a strong element of secularism.[20] Similarly, Vijay Mishra (2013) opined that the film reaffirmed India's "liberal ethos."[21]

Some authors also highlight the stereotype of the suffering and self-sacrificing mother, played by actress Nirupa Roy in this case, who regularly played such roles during the period. However, in her self-sacrificing streak, when she is afflicted to tuberculosis, she tries to commit suicide so that she doesn't become a burden to her family. However, this transgression of attempting to abandon her three young sons calls for a suitable punishment in the narrative and she loses her eyesight.[22] According to Kush Varia (2013), the film started as a tragedy but later incorporated many other genres.[23]

Andrew Dickson (2016) commented that the film featured a plot which would "give even Shakespeare migraines."[24]

Dinesh Raheja of 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."[25]


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

The soundtrack of the film, composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal with lyrics penned by Anand Bakshi, proved as popular and successful as the film itself.

Just like the cast, the vocals of the film were given by some of the biggest names in the Indian music industry at the time. For the song, "Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai", four leading playback singers, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, and Lata Mangeshkar sang together for the first and only occasion in their careers.[12] In this song, Kumar sang for Bachchan, Mukesh for Vinod Khanna, and Rafi for Rishi Kapoor. Mangeshkar, on the other hand, sung for all three actresses. The film also features a comical qawwali, "Parda Hai" ("There is Veil"), sung by Mohammed Rafi.[26] Other musical legends who had worked on the film include Mahendra Kapoor and Shailendra Singh

Director Manmohan Desai had originally settled for the name "Anthony Fernandes" for the Christian character to be played by Amitabh Bachchan, though when he met lyricist Anand Bakshi, and the song "My name is Anthony Fernandes" was written, it didn't go well with Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Composer Pyarelal then recalled his violin teacher, composer Anthony Gonsalves, and suggested an alternative "Anthony Gonsalves", which would be finalized as the character's name.[12][27] The vinyl record was released on Polydor and was the first coloured LP, in pink.

Original tracklist[28]
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, Amit Kumar07:59
6."Shirdi Wale Sai Baba"Mohammad Rafi05:52
7."My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves"Amitabh Bachchan, Kishore Kumar05:32


The Emergency Period declared in 1975 delayed the release of several of Manmohan Desai's films to 1977, when the period was lifted. As result, four of Desai's films, were released in the same year, including Dharam Veer, Chacha Bhatija, Parvarish, and Amar Akbar Anthony.[29][30] Incidentally, all of these would be amongst the top-grossing films of the year.[1]

For the film's marketing, erasers with the image of Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, and Amitabh Bachchan, were sold among students.[31] Posters, postcards, and song booklets of the film adorned shops. Men started sporting a metal cross around their neck. Even colourful vests (worn by Bachchan in the film) became vogue.

Box office[edit]

The film grossed 155 million (equivalent to 3.5 billion or US$49 million in 2019) at the box office, was declared a blockbuster, and subsequently became the highest-grossing Bollywood film at the Indian Box Office for the year 1977.[1] It has since been regarded as one of the best films of Indian cinema.[32]


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 Amar Akbar Anthony Nominated
Best Director Manmohan Desai
Best Lyricist Anand Bakshi for "Parda Hai Parda"
Best Male Playback Singer Mohammed Rafi for "Parda Hai Parda"


  • Connie Haham (2006). Enchantment of the Mind: Manmohan Desai's Films. Roli Books Pvt Limited. ISBN 978-81-7436-431-9.
  • Ethnomusicology Gregory D. Booth (2008). Behind the Curtain : Making Music in Mumbai's Film Studios. Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-19-971665-4.
  • William Elison, Christian Lee Novetzke, and Andy Rotman (2016). Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674504486.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)


  1. ^ a b c "Box Office 1977". Box Office India. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  2. ^ "From Amar Akbar Anthony to Baahubali: Whither Indian Cinema's Secularism?". PopMatters. 22 June 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  3. ^ Rachel Dwyer (2005). 100 Bollywood films. Lotus Collection, Roli Books. p. 14. ISBN 978-81-7436-433-3. Archived from the original on 26 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Yaadon Ki Baaraat: Nasir Hussain's 1973 potboiler initiated Hindi cinema's transformation into 'Bollywood'". Firstpost. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Yaadon Ki Baaraat: The quintessential bollywood film". Daily News and Analysis. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Transcending language barrier". The Economic Times. 20 September 2008. 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". Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  8. ^ a b Heyman, Michael, Sumanyu Satpathy, and Anushka Ravishankar (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.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b "Amar Akbar Anthony". Livemint. 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. ^ Helio San Miguel (2012). Mumbai. Intellect Books. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-84150-632-6.
  15. ^ Lutgendorf, Philip (2014). "Amar Akbar Anthony". Indian Cinema: Philip's Fil-ums. University of Iowa. Archived from the original on 27 June 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  16. ^ Virdi, Jyotika (2003). The Cinematic ImagiNation: Indian Popular Films as Social History. Rutgers University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-8135-3191-5.
  17. ^ Kavoori, Anandam P., and Aswin Punathambekar (2008). Global Bollywood. NYU Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8147-2944-1.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Nochimson, Martha P. (23 September 2011). World on Film: An Introduction. John Wiley & Sons. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4443-5833-9.
  19. ^ Th Damsteegt (2003). Heroes and Heritage: The Protagonist in Indian Literature and Film. Amsterdam University Press. p. 217. ISBN 978-90-5789-090-1.
  20. ^ "Muslims in the Movies: The Good, the Bad, and the Khilji". The Quint. 31 January 2018. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  21. ^ Mishra, Vijay (2013). Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire. Routledge. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-135-31099-8.
  22. ^ Breckenridge, Carol Appadurai (1995). Consuming Modernity: Public Culture in a South Asian World. University of Minnesota Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-8166-2305-1. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  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. ^ "Amar Akbar Anthony: Whoop-it-up fun!". Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  26. ^ Anna Morcom (1 January 2007). Hindi Film Songs and the Cinema. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-7546-5198-7.
  27. ^ Booth, p. 5
  28. ^ "Amar Akbar Anthony (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Laxmikant – Pyarelal on Apple Music". iTunes Store. Archived from the original on 31 January 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  29. ^ "Amar-Akbar-Anthony". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  30. ^ Tejaswini Ganti (5 March 2013). Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema. Routledge. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-415-58384-8.
  31. ^ Filmfare Tue, 10 June 2014 (10 June 2014). "100 Filmfare Days: 49- Amar Akbar Anthony". Archived from the original on 1 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  32. ^ Livemint (18 August 2017). "70 iconic films of Indian cinema". Livemint. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2018.

External links[edit]