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Parampara (meaning "tradition") is a Bollywood (Hindi language) film released in 1992 starring Sunil Dutt, Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Anupam Kher, Vinod Khanna, Ashwini Bhave, Neelam and Raveena Tandon.
Thakur Bhavani Singh (Dutt) is the richest man in his village. He is really into tradition. One of the villages traditions is if a man is challenged to a duel, each opponent can only have one bullet in his gun. Thakur shot and killed Shankar, head of the local tribe many years ago and to his chagrin his son Prithvi Singh (Khanna), on returning from studying in London, befriends his old enemy's son, Gora Shankar (Kher). Further complications arise when Prithvi falls in love with Gora's sister Tara and his father decides to marry him off to Rajeshwari (Bhave). Somehow Prithvi marries both Tara and Rajeshwari on the same day but is true only to Tara. Nine months later as Tara is about to give birth to their daughter, his father sends goons to the tribe to set it alight and kill everyone including the pregnant Tara. Rajeshwari overhears her father in law's mad scheme and rushes to the tribe and is able to save the baby but Tara and many others are killed. Gora Shankar attempts to exact revenge but is arrested and sent away for several years during which time Prithvi disowns his father but continues to live in his house and makes a go of his marriage to Rajeshwari and they have a son together called Pratap. Rajeshwari is a good woman and treats both children as her own although Thakur does not acknowledge his older grandson. When Gora Singh is released from jail he challenges Thakur to a duel but Prithvi insists on taking his father's place but doesn't load his own gun with a bullet. He dies in the duel and tells Gora Singh to raise his older son Ranbir for him. Ranbir (Aamir Khan) grows up with his uncle on a farm and Pratap (Saif Ali Khan) grows up with his mother and grandfather in their stately home, never wanting for anything.
Ranbir and Pratap end up at the same college and become best friends with Pratap helping Rabir find love with the aid of his own girlfriend. Is that the end? Is this "happily ever after"? Of course not, what happens when they find out that they are half brothers and about their tragic past?
If it seems I've given away a lot of the plot, don't worry; most of the above happens in the first half an hour of this rather long film. To say the storyline for this film annoyed me no end is putting it lightly. I couldn't believe what an awful man Thakur Bhavani Singh was. Sunil Dutt was a well respected actor for many decades and was the father of the very famous Sanjay Dutt. I don't recall seeing Dutt Senior in very many films but his character was really detestable in this film, which doesn't mean that his acting wasn't good. He was someone you could instantly hate and want to see him killed off but oh no, they made us have to see his appalling behaviour for several generations. I didn't find myself feeling sorry for him at all during the film although some attempt was made at times to make the viewer have some sort of empathy for him and his actions.
Vinod Khanna was one of Bollywood's big stars during the late 60s, early 70s and onwards apart to the early 90s aside from a stint in the early 80s at a commune in the USA (working as a gardener) but this didn't seem to affect his chances of getting starring roles on his return to Bollywood. I've never been a particular fan of his, he's fairly attractive and has done some decent films but mostly for me he was a bit of a sidekick starring alongside people like Amitabh Bachchan and others. I don't recall any real big hits of his in which he was the standalone "hero". His character in Parampara was actually quite likeable and I did feel the treatment meted out to his screen father was very fitting and especially the actions which lead to his death. It was strange to see his character accepting his wife into his heart just shortly after finding out his father was responsible for his other wife's death, it didn't seem realistic and that part of the story was probably a bit too rushed to seem realistic, although there was the fact that he was grateful to her for saving his child's life.
The plot got a bit too gushy when the boys grow up and end up at the same college, it was all a bit too convenient, especially as Pratap had been raised in an extremely rich home and Ranbir raised by a tribesman who manages to attain a lot of land and become a wealthy farmer after serving several years in prison. Anupam Kher as the tribesman turned farmer played his role credibly. Kher is a pretty decent actor and it's strange that he has never played really big parts in Bollywood films. He's a decent comedian and has won the Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Comic Role five times which is a record. I find him pretty good in straight roles too. Some might know him from Bend it Like Beckham, The Mistress of Spices and Bride and Prejudice.
I can't not mention Ashwini Bhave who played Rajeshwari in the film, she was probably the most impressive character to me in the film. She was definitely not old enough in real life to play Saif Ali Khan or Aamir Khan's mother, I think she's probably just a couple of years older than them in real life if not around the same age. I guess all due respect has to be given to her to accept a role playing a mother figure when she was so young, although the makeup department could have done a much better job to make her age somewhat in the second half of the film!
This was Saif Ali Khan's first film and I don't think his role here did him any favours. Interestingly enough (for some) his mother Sharmila Tagore is the great-grandniece of Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore. He's generally a decent actor and is well thought of in Bollywood these days but in Parampara he didn't shine. Strangely enough he won a Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut in a film he did a year after this one! Maybe this was so poorly received they pretended it didn't happen? His on screen partner in the film was Neelam who was a pretty young actress who appeared in quite a few films from the late 80s until the mid 90s and then seemed to disappear into obscurity. Not much to say about her performance here as she didn't have much screen time much like Raveena Tandon who played Aamir Khan's love interest. Aamir Khan was a fairly established actor by the time he appeared in Parampara but like the other Khan in the film I can't really rave about his performance as it was very average. I understand neither of these Khans has appeared under Yash Chopra's direction since the release of this film and its subsequent flop at the box office.
Speaking of directors, this film must have been a real embarrassment for Yash Chopra having won numerous Filmfare awards for Best Director and Best Movie from the 60s to date and he was the first ever Indian to be honoured at the BAFTAs.
The cinematography is worth a mention, some beautiful locales were used in the film, especially the backdrops used in the song and dance routines. Speaking of which; the songs from the film apparently did somewhat better than the film itself but I can't remember a single tune from the film. The choreography was charming though especially the dance routines in the first half of the film.
The film makes you wonder about corruption in society. How a rich and powerful man can order the slaying of a whole tribe and not be called to account for it, yet the man who comes to confront him about the slaughter of his whole family and tribe gets arrested and spends several years in prison. Barbaric! One can only hope that things have improved with the legal system in India although I know there is still a lot of leeway given to rich individuals when it comes to the police, things have improved in the last two decades as far as I know. The problem is when you show this sort of thing happening in Bollywood films which are available to view around the world; people will get the idea in their heads that this sort of thing reflects reality.
The ending of the film was fairly satisfying although I felt it was rushed, even though the film was over 2.5 hours, there were some scenes which could have been slashed to make room for a more polished ending.
All in all Parampara gets an under average 2 out of 5 for me with a recommendation to avoid watching considering there are far more worthy Bollywood films to watch from the 90s such as 1942: A Love Story, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Rangeela, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
Starring: Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna, Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Anupam Kher, Ashwini Bhave, Neelam and Raveena Tandon
Director: Yash Chopra
Producer: Firoz Nadiadwala
Cinematography: Manmohan Singh (not the Prime Minister of India!)
Music: Shiv Hari
Choreography: Saroj Khan
Playback singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Abhijeet, Suresh Wadkar, Aslam Sabri (and others)
Release date: 1992
Duration: 155 minutes