There are three love stories in 'AAA' but they are not
central to the movie. 'AAA' is a 'hero' film, the heroines
are secondary and in fact the romance in the film is basically
there to showcase how loyal, protective, funny, and entertaining
Amar, Akbar, and Anthony really are. What is really remarkable
is how director Manmohan Desai manages to weave the elements
of every type of 1970s Hindi film and its three major types
of heroes into what is for the most part an absurd slapstick
comedy / adventure and comes away from the proceedings with
an almost perfect Bollywood entertainer. Desai even attempts
to insert a 'parallel cinema' (Indian term for 'art film')
track in 'AAA' with the casting of Shabana Azmi the great
parallel cinema actress. It is the films comedy though that
elevates 'AAA' to classic heights.
There is great acting in 'AAA' by the top stars of 70s
Bollywood. Amitabh Bachchan reveals his incredible comic sense
and his 'Anthony Gonsalves' song where he jumps out of a giant
Easter egg is one of the all time high points of Bollywood
film. Rishi Kapoor acts with masterful comic timing and his
numbers with Neetu Singh show why he earned and deserved the
name, 'Lover Boy'. Vinod Khanna plays straight man in 'AAA'
except when he busts out as the ragtag 'one man band' for
the films final number which is just an incredible joy.
I think that one needs to place themselves within the
context of Bollywood 1977 to fully appreciate "Amar Akbar
Anthony". At the time the angry young man films were
the rage and that genre's major actors Amitabh and Vinod were
the two 'godlike' heroes of Indian popular culture. Amitabh
played a 'comic role' as opposed to his intensely rage filled
angry young men and excelled at it. Rishi was the reigning
teen heartthrob (when he married Neetu Singh in 1979 a few
woman committed suicide from grief). The fact that all three
were acting together in the same film, with three of the hottest
actress of the period meant a multi-star summit of epic proportions.
The generated excitement and expectation for the film must
have been incredible and the fact the film delivers on all
its promises must have been overwhelming.
Seeing 'AAA' in a Bombay theater in 1977 must have been
just the peak of entertainment. I would give just about anything
to be able to go back in time and watch Amitabh Bachchan jump
out of that giant Easter egg and exclaim his famous lines,
"You see the coefficient of the linear is just a position
by the hemoglobin of the atmospheric pressure in the country"
. I would be rolling with laughter in the isles with all
the other front benchers.