Why God why?

Ram Balram (1980) is directed by Vijay Anand and stars Dharmendra and Amitabh (Dharbh? Amitendra?).

The songs are great fun, beginning with “Ek Raasta” which imbibes freely from both KC and the Sunshine Gang (“That’s The Way Uh-Huh Uh-Huh I Like It”) and “Yeh Dosti” all at the same time. Dharam even wears his Sholay cap, and their cute little three-wheeled automobile drives itself as necessary when they want to ride on top of it:



In “Nazar Mil Gayi” Amitabh channels Clint Eastwood courtesy of Sergio Leone (with Rekha as a flamenco dancer and Sujit Kumar as the bandito in a nice mix of geo-cinematic cliches):


And he dresses as a pink and striped pirate pretending to hang himself as he woos Rekha in “Humse Bhool Ho Gayi”:


In the film’s prologue Helen gets to whirl around in front of Ajit flourishing a dupatta covered in 100 Rs notes.



And she and Zeenat (who play mother and daughter) and Dharmendra (who despite being Helen’s age is wooing Zeenat) have a song and dance together later in “Ab To Ram Hi Jaan”:


Helen looks lovely as a woman of a certain age (okay, mine!). Right here she proves the awesomeness of our gray streaks and nose rings:


Rekha and Amitabh’s famous chemistry is crackling:


And Dharmendra rocks his Seventies Hoodlum look:


So why does the film SUCK SO BADLY, God? Why?

Maybe Beth (we watched it together) will be able to explain it.

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44 Comments to “Why God why?”

  1. If I remember right, this was released around the same time as “Do Aur Do Paanch” – and both movies flopped pretty miserably at the box office.

    I have not seen either movie – I read the reviews in The Illustrated Weekly of India way back in 1980, when the movies were released.
    I recall the reviews being pretty critical – for both movies.

    I don’t know why you did not like the movie at all – my guess (other than that you had high expectations) is that the movie lacked any proper storyline. So while the individual components – the actors, their caricatures – were all OK, collectively there was no substance in the movie.

    So it sort of came across as repetitive, hackneyed – almost an insult to your intelligence.

    Just guessing. Am I right ? Or at least close ? :-)

  2. Ha ha. I like Do Aur Do Paanch, but this was just so dumb. And disjointed. There was no plot (at least not one that hung together and made sense). I actually did not have high expectations as it was a rewatch for me after several years, and I remembered not liking it.

    It’s not even coherent enough to be an insult to one’s intelligence! Sigh. So many wasted opportunities in Hindi cinema. So many…

    But I wanted to capture at least these few fun things from the film somehow. Just did not want to waste any time on a review.

    • landed on ur blog after a long time. being a movie buff i enjoy reading it as much as u enjoy writing it.

      i agree this movie had a dumb plot. but it wasn’t the way Vijay Anand (according to his autobiography) wanted to make it. he wanted to make it somewhat like “the departed” ..two brothers..one cop ,one thief (used by main villain) and confrontation between them…more drama than usual masala.. but am sure producers might not have liked the idea of putting Dharmendra in negative role so they must’ve changed the script.

      Now “The departed” in my opinion, was a good movie but certainly not a oscar deserving movie.

  3. And I should add that at least it was better than Kambakkht Ishq, which I managed to get through in only two sittings…it had nothing I even would want to screen cap, and I felt actual physical pain at having to watch it at many points. I only stuck with it because my sister was there (she has a higher tolerance for that kind of noise than I do).

    Truly, a “Why God Why” film. I can’t understand anyone’s motivations for participating in such a dreadful waste of money, time and resources.

  4. Helen still acted after her marriage? Now that really is news to me. I used to think she got married right after Sholay:) Vijay Anandsaab left moviemaking after this – too much ego clash between the two Sholay maha-rathis.

    Amitabh ka tambu chay tambuon main khada hain.
    (Amitabh’s canopy rests on bamboos provided by 6 directors)

    Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Prakash Mehra, Yash Chopra, Ramesh Sippy, Manmohan Desai. And one guy who is undeservedly unfeted – Rakesh Kumar with movies like Yaarana (disco light Amitabh!) Mr. Natwarlal Khoon Pasina and Do Aur Do Paanch. You want Amitabh at his pomp, stick to these guys and throw in Kaalia too. :)

    • She got married in 1980, and I think she did still do a couple of films after that before retiring. And of course she’s come back to do some in the last decade or so :)

      And Vijay should have retired BEFORE he made this.

  5. Ha!!!! Anything can be better than Kambakth Ishq. ;) Its like they amied for all kinds of low points and managed to go even lower.
    That one was pure offensive.

  6. for tambuon read bambuon. :)

  7. I agree 100%!

    Here was my take: http://filmi-girl.livejournal.com/168111.html

    The movie just felt tired – from Dharmendra being WAY too old to romance Zeenat to the half-baked fight scenes that lasted forever.

    I would encourage everyone to AVOID, yaar!

    • Yes—we did agree (although I like the Rekha-Amitabh chemistry, and just try to forget whatever might have happened in real life) (I’m selfish that way when it comes to films)…the premise was good, but then nobody did anything with it! I could not figure out how their romancing these two girls was furthering Ajit’s plans at all, and that was the bulk of the middle of the film. Then it was like: “Oh yeah, we should get back to the plot” and then “Oops we’re running out of time so let’s wrap it up!”…made no sense.

      Songs were great though. And Dharam should TOTALLY have been paired with Helen. That would have been a jodi I could enjoy watching and I wouldn’t have cared if the main plot ever came back :-))))

  8. Told you!! There’s nothing like Kambakht Ishq. :-D

  9. Ohhh gosh, i warned everybody not to watch this at the masala Pradesh! http://rotikapadarum.blogspot.com/2008/07/ram-balram-never-let-ajit-near-your.html
    But memsaab why did u watch this!! Though i did like some of the songs but i found a hilarious pyschological angle with amitabh who was frightened of “the stick from HELL” ajit’s hilarious crutch with a spike in it! That was toooooo funny!

    • The real question, Rum, is why did I watch this AGAIN? And the answer is that Beth wanted to see it, and so I agreed. And I will say that her comments throughout made it much more bearable in general, and we had a lot of fun with the Crutch Nails too :)

      Poor little guys.

  10. Is it like Sholay’s ‘Paint Your Wagon’? :-|

  11. Nooooooooooo! I have this sitting on my ‘recently bought from Nehaflix’ pile right beside me.

  12. I love the way you pick out the best of each movie. Its almost as if you dont want to say anything bad about it. I even want to watch movies you dont like. :)

    • I don’t mind saying what’s bad, but the thing I really love about these movies is that there is almost always SOMETHING that’s too fun to ignore :-D Hooray for that!

  13. Well, if you’re saying “Why God why?” then I’m saying “Thank you, God!” – for not ever having given me the chance to see this. Sounds horrid.

  14. And to think that this had come from Vijay Anand – as writer and director! Oh God, what happened to the golden touch of Goldie?

    • I know!!!!! I love Vijay Anand! Have no idea what went wrong here. Guess I never will either.


      • Memsaab:

        Never say never…I will tell you why.

        I read an interview of Vijay Anand when he was asked this same question of what-happened -with RAM BALRAM and his response was he had ego-clashes between the two Heroes. One wanted to shoot at night other during daytime. Finally, he shot and edited such that it would look seamless. Also, he had $$ (or Rs) problems and finally somehow he got this movie completed. He however decided then that he is not going to make any super-star movies anymore (I guess RAJPUT was already in cooking then)

        All great directors have an unexplained dud and I guess this can easily disappear in TERE GHAR KE OPPOSITE, JEWEL THIEF and GUIDE’s and aura.

        I think this is one of those movies that if you are fan of any one of these: Amitabh, Dharmendra, or Vijay Anand, you cannot not see this. The oomph of Zeenat Aman then was also an easy factor to check this movie out.

        • That makes me sad :( Dharam and Amitabh should not ever be rivals…they are so different! Poor Vijay. I imagine being a director is not at all an easy task ever!

  15. I saw the movie in the cinema hall in 1980. I had a whale of time then.
    Don’t know, how I would react to it now.

    I find Garam Dharam sexy as usual. Zeenat too!
    I think it was a typical 70s going into 80s film and compared to many half baked of those times very good.
    I think basically one watches such films only for those good moments, which you have listed and the other shortcomings one just bears.

    When I watch the movies (esp. Indian cinema) with this attitude (BTW learnt from you), I am hardly disappointed. Even sailed through “Lakhon mein ek” and at the end was happy that the heroine doesn’t take a groom as a consolation prize.

    Loved all screen caps with Dharmendra!

    *spoiler ahead*
    I just found the scene great, when Helen’s corpse drags Ajit to his death!
    Ha, ha, ha!

    • Oh yes!!! (re your spoiler)—that was SO FAB. I did find Zeenat annoying in this though, mostly because she’s not a very good actress and really suits more “action” oriented films better—she didn’t get much action in this. Like Filmi Girl, I would have LOVED to see a romance between Helen and Dharam instead, although of course it wouldn’t have been feasible written as it was (since the Helen character was already an adult when Dharam’s was a little boy).

      My brother once asked me (jokingly, I think) if I worried that my standards were just falling so low as to be beyond the pale, and I said: “what good are “standards” if they limit your enjoyment of things?”


      • “what good are “standards” if they limit your enjoyment of things?”

        Well said! Hear, hear!!!

        IMO Zeenat couldn’t act to save her life. But she had screen presence and she had sex appeal and she had style AND her smile. Since most of her films didn’t need much than that, nobody complains. I like Dharam-Zeenat’s pairing. They really look good together. Dharam-Helen would have been naturally something hatke!

  16. Ahh, another Dharmitabh film. It’s been a long time since I saw this one, and I think I remember enjoying it… but that might just be because of the songs; to be honest I can’t remember any of the plot! Something about dead fathers, a pointy crutch, an illegitimate daughter, and some missing jewelry I believe. But I could be wrong.

    Yeah, this would probably qualify as the worst of their collaborations. I can still watch, enjoy, and quote Chupke Chupke and Sholay all day long. But this one? Ehh… What makes it more disappointing is that it was directed by Vijay Anand, I normally like his work.

    I do wish Dharmitabh made more films together as dual leads though; it seems as if they came together more when either one made special appearances in the other’s films, or both made cameos.

    • I seem to be on an Amitabh roll lately. And Mithun too. You remember Ram Balram pretty correctly, so please don’t think you need to revisit it. Unless you really want to.

      I like “Dharmitabh”. I like them together too, although I think I do prefer Shashitabh. Dharam is just so awesome all by himself :)

  17. Hey thatz KC and the sushine Band not gang Memsaab :-) and Yaar ki nazar mil gayi’s “oh ho ho hoooo” was lifted from Kung-Fu fighting.

    i landed on ur blog just awhile ago. loving it already. u mentioned Sergio Leone too…watched “Duck You Sucker” just last night. guess we can talk bout movies n music here. cheers !!!

    • Ha ha ha! I LOVE “Duck You Sucker”—it is just so fabulous :D And you are right about Band vs Gang, but I’m old and we old people make those types of mistakes!

  18. Ram balaram was not a flop it was semit hit ath that time .
    Ram-Balram was third movie of Amitabh-Dharmendra after Sholay and Chupke Chupke. This movie was expected to be another Sholay. But comparison to Sholay always works in negative way for any movie. Ram-Balram was no exception. Movie opens to thunder response with packed houses all over, but couldn’t meet the set expectations. After three houseful weeks, it fells on 4th week and wrapped under 5 Crore in 25 weeks of run. However 5 Crore was huge amount in 1980 which if adjusted today come close to 80 Crore. Movie was distributed @1 Crore for bombay territory and rest part of India costs 1.5 Crore. Over 2.5 Crore of investment and 3.5 Crore Distribution share makes it 1 Crore earner movie which if adjusted today comes to 16 Crore. 16 Crore distribution profit in contemporary term is blockbuster run, but in 1980 when Bachchan movies are expected much more, Ram-Balram was termed as just Semi-Hit.


  19. Do aur do panch (1980) was out an out slap stick con comedy. However movie was least successful, still manage to achieve above average and some noteworthy performances at Ritz(shimla) – 15 weeks, Sangeet(ludhiana) – 12 weeks, shiela(delhi) – 18 weeks. And above all , with time this movie has achieved the status of one of best con movies till date bollywood has produced.


  20. I like Do Aur Do Panch, saw it long ago…

    But…no matter how many people saw Ram Balram, and no matter how much money it made, it is still a BAD BAD film. Very disappointing :(

  21. RAM BALRAM,was released last week of oct1980,the second week oct1980was release DOSTANA,I as best of my rememberence can recall that there such huge crowds in cinema hall that one could not set afoot in,this second last movie great mastero (repected goldie/vijay anand)directed,the last one RAJPUT april 1982,that he quit on high note and mentioning that circumstances of present are not conjuive to my style of working,though mind you both movies were success at box office.RAM BALRAM was entirely based on character of AJIT DA and if I am not wrong this was ajitda last outing,before he took retirement for twelve years(1992)to return for one last short stint,to justify presence of such huge starcast and without being biased to anyone,could be only by great GOLDIE ANAND,even today when you watch this movie which had length of almost three and half hour at no stage you will feel to leave,thity three years after its release it remains fresh.RAVINDER MINHAS,JALANDHAR CITY,PANJAB.minhas35@yahoo.com.

  22. @memsaab An Amitabh Dharmendra starrer of the 70s-80s was always a superhit, period ! The plot was the usual masala type but it was way better than what we see these days with substandard language, literature, names and debatable scenes !

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