Well, he didn’t top them, but he didn’t fall short either. Bullet has all the characteristics of his finest work in this genre—suspense, thrills, plot twists, excellent costumes, strange camera angles—strongly flavored by mid-70’s kitsch. And by strongly flavored, I mean reeking of it. The sets are atmospheric and fantastical, colored with acid greens and bright reds and yellows, and lots of graffiti.
The strong cast includes gorgeous Parveen Babi at the height of her beauty and fame, equally gorgeous Kabir Bedi, Rakesh Roshan (better known now as Hrithik’s dad) and of course, Dev Anand. I was also really impressed with Jyoti Bakshi as the poor little rich girl drug addict; sadly, she only made two other movies (at least according to IMDB).
Dharam Dev (Dev Anand) is a policemen with the Special Forces. He is investigating swindler Durga Prasad (Kabir Bedi) who milks the poor of their savings and sends the money to his Swiss bank account. He is also in love with DP’s secretary, Sapna (Parveen Babi), from whom he has kept his true identity.
When she does discover his identity, she agrees to help him after DP pimps her out to Mr. X (DP’s boss, who doesn’t much factor into the film except for this). DP trusts her completely, so she has a lot to contribute to the investigation. She gives him the combination to DP’s safe, where he keeps his “files”—which contain all that’s needed to put him away for his crimes for good. Unfortunately, DP has rigged his safe with a camera:
DP recognizes him from the photo. After an unsuccessful bribe attempt, DP arranges to have Dharam framed for drunk driving and killing a pedestrian.
Really, is it any wonder public officials prefer bribes? Anyway, Dharam is convicted and sentenced to two years in prison, but is let out after six months because he has friends in the police force. Imagine that! Although he has lost his job, he vows revenge and visits DP in his office, showing him a bullet and telling him that it has his name on it. Sapna has been waiting for Dharam and they have a sweet reunion. She is still DP’s trusted secretary, and still wants to help Dharam. She gives him information which he uses to cause DP’s aide some trouble at the airport:
And he taunts DP afterwards with said bullet. DP hires some goons to rough him up and take the bullet from him. Dharam overpowers all of them with some excellent dishum-dishum, and shows up at DP’s favorite nightclub where he arranges for a song and dance (with Village People-costumed girls—and one dressed as DP—all chanting “bullet, bullet”). Again, I have to say…
DP is not happy. But he IS handsome!
The police, in the form of Dharam’s protege Inspector Rajesh (Rakesh Roshan), have not been idle either. DP is unable to leave the country due to some Rs 600,000 which he owes in taxes (he shouldn’t have sent all his money to Switzerland!).
We now discover that DP has a mistress named Mala (Sonia Sahni) who is married to billionaire Seth Ghanshyamdas (Shreeram Lagoo). Ghanshyamdas has a daughter, Roshi (Jyoti Bakshi), who is addicted to drugs and gambling. Inspector Rajesh is in love with her and trying to make her go straight, but she is unhappy and self-destructive. She dislikes her stepmother:
(nice dress!) but her father lets her run wild since he is too busy with his business empire to pay her much attention. He is tight-fisted with his money and Roshi has run up some big gambling debts.
Again—nice dress! (I think I may have had a leisure suit with similar patchwork around this same time).
DP needs money; Roshi needs money; and once Dharam Dev finds out that the precious files now reside with DP’s accountant Zaforullah Khan (who also needs money as dowry for a third wife), he needs money too!
DP and Mala design a brilliant plan to rid themselves of both Roshi and Dharam once and for all.
Mala befriends Roshi by sympathizing with her after her father slaps her one night in exasperation. She suggests that since they both need money, and Ghanshyamdas is so miserly, they should scam him out of some of his wealth. Mala ropes in Dharam Dev to help them with a kidnapping plot. He will “kidnap” Roshi (who will go with him willingly) and hold her for ransom. Once Ghanshyamdas pays up, Roshi will return home and they will all have the money they need. Dharam reluctantly agrees because he needs money to give Zaforullah Khan in exchange for the incriminating files.
All goes well at first. Roshi and Dharam check into a hotel, where Roshi slips him an “English pill” and a funny cigarette. Woo-hoo!
It’s a wonderfully Alice-In-Wonderland kind of song. But DP and Mala are smarter than Dharam gives them credit for (and evidently also much smarter than Dharam Dev himself). When he retrieves the bag containing the ransom and returns to the place where he is to meet Roshi and Mala, he finds Roshi dead. He also discovers that the bag is full of newspaper and not money. Since this was supposed to be a fake crime, he’s made very little attempt to cover his tracks and now realizes that evidence against him is everywhere.
He is reinstated in the police force, and assigned to the kidnapping case along with poor Inspector Rajesh. Rajesh is heartbroken when Roshi’s body is discovered, and he is very determined to find the culprit.
Will this be enough of a disguise so that witnesses they interview can’t recognize Dharam Dev?
Or will he end up back in jail? Will Mala and DP escape to Switzerland and their millions? Watch Bullet to find out!