There are 2 incidents connected to this song and movie that happened when I was a child, I would like to mention. The first was there was a group of children living in the building opposite to ours with whom I would play in the evenings. Often, we would sing and dance to the tune of Bollywood songs. One of the songs we would sing was this one and I would invariably get the Anthony’s part and I would proudly play it. I have been a tom boy all my life. J
The second incident happened within a few days of our starting to perform this song. I was playing with some girls from our own building and I just happened to say that we would pretend as if we were film stars. I also assigned roles of Shabana Azmi and Neetu Singh to 2 other girls and the role of Parveen Babi to myself. Suddenly, a man from our building appeared there and said, “You should not talk about film stars.” I had intended to say that I would pretend that I am Amitabh Bachchan. But being a girl I said Parveen Babi instead. Now this was the reaction the man gave when I said Parveen Babi. If I had said Amitabh Bachchan I wonder what his reaction would have been.
Movie: Amar Akbar Anthony is another of the typical Manmohan Desai (producer and director) lost and found formula movie. Besides, I love the national integration message in it. The actual sequence of the names should have been Amar Anthony Akbar. But this sequence did not sound right for the makers so they changed it toAmar Akbar Anthony and it received a cult status in the history of Hindi cinema. The cast includes Vinod Khanna, Shabana Azmi, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, Parveen Babi, late Nazir Hussain, late Pran, late Jeevan, late Nirupa Roy, Ranjeet and Yusuf Khan.
Kishanlal (Pran) is Robert’s (Jeevan) chauffeur and takes the rap for a hit and run accident by his boss because Robert assures him that his family would be taken care of. But when he returns from the jail, he finds his wife Bharati (Nirupa Roy) has tuberculosis and his 3 sons are starving. When he confronts Robert, he is humiliated and ridiculed. Then he turns back on Robert and tries to kill his former boss. Trying to escape, Kishanlal unintentionally takes a car with a shipment of gold biscuits. Robert’s henchmen follow him.
When Kishanlal goes home to salvage his family, he finds Bharati’s suicide note. Soon she fails in her attempt to die and becomes blind instead. This Kishanlal does not know. He leaves his sons at the foot of a Gandhi statue in a park, while he diverts the goons, who are chasing him. He crashes the car in the chase and falls away from the wreck and then discovers the gold. However, when he returns to the park with the gold, his children are nowhere in sight.
Amar is the oldest child and he is adopted by a Hindu policeman. The youngest boy is found by a Muslim tailor and he starts calling him Akbar. While the other boy is found asleep by a Catholic Priest (Nazir Hussain) on the steps of his church, he picks him up to foster him and calls him
Kishanlal wants to avenge the loss of his family and kidnaps Robert’s daughter Jenny to raise her as his niece. He also uses the gold to destroy Robert’s illegal business and sets himself up as another criminal mob head.
Cut to many years later. Amar (Vinod Khanna) is a police officer. Akbar (Rishi Kapoor) pursues singing and the other brother Anthony (Amitabh Bachchan) is an affable socially conscious rogue, running quasi-legal activities. He has made God his ‘partner’ and donates half his income to charity. The 3 brothers meet for the first time at a hospital. They donate their blood to an accident victim. But they do not know that they are related and that they are donating blood to their own mother, Bharati.
Their lives are entwined with each other in an implausible ring of coincidences and vigorous action scenes. In between, they get time to sing songs. Soon Amar’s foster father is seriously injured and Anthony falls in love with Jenny, due to which the priest is killed. Anthony pursues justice and thus the paths of the 3 heroes cross again. Then they come together to find the culprit and their common legacy.
Then a grieving Bharati regains her sight thanks to Sai Baba, during Diwali, while Akbar sings eulogies to the Lord. Thus she reaches the Muslim tailor’s home, since Akbar recognizes her as the woman he saved many days ago. Coincidences later, they find out that Akbar is her youngest son. Eventually she meets the other 2 sons as well.
In the meantime, Robert compels Jenny to get married to Zebisko (Yusuf Khan), her former bodyguard after putting her on house arrest. They have also kidnapped Lakshmi (Shabana Azmi) Amar’s love interest. Disguised, the 3 brothers Amar, Akbar and Anthony find the 2 girls and sing this song to rescue them. Salma (Neetu Singh) is also present in the scene to co-ordinate with the girls.
Song: Music is by Lakshmikant-Pyarelal and lyrics by Anand Bakshi.
The song goes thus, “We turn the unpredictable to the expected, the probable to something irregular, when we 3 come together at one place – Amar, Akbar, Anthony. 2 is better than 1, 3 is better than 2. The bride and the groom are not together. Musical instruments are here but there is no marriage procession. There is nothing to worry. This is a night of union and not a night of separation. Friends, laugh. Why do you keep your face sad? Dear moths of the flame and the guests of this home. Recognize strangers. How can I explain meaningful things to mad people? This night has brought charming and beautiful dreams to us. When we 3 come together at one place – Amar, Akbar, Anthony!”
Video: Cinematography is by Peter Pereira.
Vinod Khanna comes to Jeevan’s home disguised as a musician, Rishi Kapoor as a tailor, while Amitabh Bachchan is in the guise of a Catholic Priest. Vinod Khanna, having attached several music instruments on himself and playing a couple of them simultaneously, looks very appreciable. The jumping Jack dance that Vinod Khanna performs is very funny. It is clear now as I am older and learnt a few things about cinema that it has been intentionally picturized faster.
Jeevan compels Parveen Babi to get married to Yusuf Khan. But she is unwilling to do so. The 3 heroes come together and convince her to come down. Next comes the climax, which needs to be seen with the movie.
Artists: Singers are Mahendra Kapoor, Kishore Kumar and Shailendra Singh, while the performances are by Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh, Jeevan, Ranjeet and Yusuf Khan.
Cultural influence: This song has a message to give. If all the religions come together and work for the benefit of humanity, then they can achieve a lot in a positive way.