Amar Akbar Anthony

Amar Akbar Anthony is a 1977 Indian action comedy family film, 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.

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
  • May 27, 1977 (1977-05-27)
Running time
184 mins
Box officeest. 15.5 crore
(est. 330 crore as of 2018)[1]

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,[2] building on the masala formula pioneered several years earlier with Nasir Hussain's Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973).[3][4] 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),[5] and in Malayalam as John Jaffer Janardhanan (1982).


On the 15th of August, a chauffeur named Kishanlal (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 (Jeevan). Despite Robert's assurance that his family's welfare will be looked after, Kishanlal discovers 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. Kishanlal inadvertently escapes in one of Robert's cars loaded with smuggled gold bullion, given chase by Robert's henchmen.

Kishanlal returns home to find his sons abandoned by his wife, who had left a suicide note. He takes his sons and leaves them at the foot of a Mahatma Gandhi statue in a public park while he drives off to draw the pursuing henchmen away. In an inflamed car crash, Kishanlal is presumed dead by the henchman and the passing police, but actually survives. Before his return with the smuggled gold, each of his three sons, who've separated from the statue and each other, are found and adopted by a Hindu policeman, a Muslim tailor, and a Christian priest respectively. Bharati, who attempts suicide, is instead struck by a falling branch 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.

22 years later, 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 (Rishi Kapoor), who has fallen in love with a young doctor named Salma Ali (Neetu Singh). The three meet when they donate blood for a hit-and-run victim, unaware that they are related and that the recipient Bharati, who now sells flowers, is their mother. Akbar is initially viewed scornfully by Salma's father Tayyaib Ali (Mukri), but he later gives his blessings to Akbar after the latter saved him and Salma from a house fire. Amar falls in love with a one-time crook named Lakshmi (Shabana Azmi), taking her and her grandmother to his home after arresting her abusive stepmother. Anthony falls in love with Jennie (Parveen Babi), an Anglo-Indian who has returned from London, after meeting her at a church sermon.

In the meantime, Kishanlal created his own crime syndicate from the smuggled gold, destroying Robert's business and forcing a penniless Robert to work for him. Kishanlal had also taken in Robert's daughter, revealed to be Jennie, as his niece and previously send her to school in London before picking her up following her return. However, a police raid was laid on one of Kishanlal's loading docks, forcing Kishanlal and his men to escape while letting Robert escape with another shipment of gold bullion, regaining his former position and becoming Kishenlal's rival. As of the moment, Robert is determined to retrieve Jennie for himself.

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 his adoptive father recognizing Bharati as the woman he rescued from the falling branch years ago. Kishanlal is double-crossed by one of his bodyguards Zebisco, who betrays Jennie to Robert in exchange for her hand in marriage. Jennie is kidnapped, resulting in Anthony's adoptive father's death by Robert when the priest tries to stop him. Lakshmi is also kidnapped by her abusive brother Ranjeet, who is working for Robert. In their pursuit of justice against Robert, the brothers discover their mutual heritage with each other along with Kishenlal and Bharati, reuniting the family once again.

Akbar, Amar, and Anthony respectively pose as an elderly tailor, a one-man band, and a Catholic priest, and infiltrate Robert's mansion along with Salma. Salma rescues Jennie and Lakshmi, while Robert and his henchmen are beaten up by the brothers, arrested, and sent to prison. Due to his past crimes, Kishanlal is sent to prison as well, but he comforts Bharati by telling her that their sons are reunited, which is the only thing that matters to him the most. As such, Kishanlal is allowed to share a brief heartfelt hug with his sons. The three brothers and their loved ones ride happily into the sunset.



"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[6]

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.[7][8] 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.[9] 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."[6] 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.[10] 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.[10][11]


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 Don Bosco, Matunga for the interior shots.[9][10][12] 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.[13] 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.[14][15] 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.[16] 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.[17] In this sense, the film has a strong element of secularism.[18] Similarly, Vijay Mishra (2013) opined that the film reaffirmed India's "liberal ethos."[19]

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.[20] According to Kush Varia (2013), the film started as a tragedy but later incorporated many other genres.[21]

Andrew Dickson (2016) commented that the film featured a plot which would "give even Shakespeare migraines."[22]

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."[23]


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.[10] 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.[24] 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.[10][25] The vinyl record was released on Polydor and was the first coloured LP, in pink.

Original tracklist[26]
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.[27][28] 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.[29] 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 officeEdit

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.[30]


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. ^ 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. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  3. ^ "Yaadon Ki Baaraat: Nasir Hussain's 1973 potboiler initiated Hindi cinema's transformation into 'Bollywood'". Firstpost. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Yaadon Ki Baaraat: The quintessential bollywood film". Daily News and Analysis. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Transcending language barrier". The Economic Times. 20 September 2008. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  6. ^ a b Heyman, Michael, Sumanyu Satpathy, and Anushka Ravishankar (2007). The Tenth Rasa: An Anthology of Indian Nonsense. Penguin Books India. pp. 133–. ISBN 978-0-14-310086-7. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b "Amar Akbar Anthony". Livemint. 3 August 2013. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Booth, p. 3
  12. ^ Helio San Miguel (2012). Mumbai. Intellect Books. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-84150-632-6.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Virdi, Jyotika (2003). The Cinematic ImagiNation: Indian Popular Films as Social History. Rutgers University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-8135-3191-5.
  15. ^ 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)
  16. ^ Nochimson, Martha P. (23 September 2011). World on Film: An Introduction. John Wiley & Sons. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4443-5833-9.
  17. ^ Th Damsteegt (2003). Heroes and Heritage: The Protagonist in Indian Literature and Film. Amsterdam University Press. p. 217. ISBN 978-90-5789-090-1.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ Mishra, Vijay (2013). Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire. Routledge. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-135-31099-8.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Varia, Kush (2013). Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip. Columbia University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-231-50260-3.
  22. ^ Dickson, Andrew (2016). Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys Around Shakespeare's Globe. Henry Holt and Company. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-8050-9735-1.
  23. ^ "Amar Akbar Anthony: Whoop-it-up fun!". Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  24. ^ Anna Morcom (1 January 2007). Hindi Film Songs and the Cinema. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-7546-5198-7.
  25. ^ Booth, p. 5
  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^ "Amar-Akbar-Anthony". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  28. ^ Tejaswini Ganti (5 March 2013). Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema. Routledge. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-415-58384-8.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Livemint (18 August 2017). "70 iconic films of Indian cinema". Livemint. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2018.

External linksEdit