Muqaddar Ka Sikandar: Underrated Amitabh Bachchan-starrer is the quintessential ’70s Hindi film

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the third biggest Hindi grosser of the 1970s, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978) and even though it was surpassed by only Sholay (1975) and Bobby (1973), the film rarely finds a mention in the cinematic achievements of the decade. However, despite often getting overshadowed by not only Sholay or Bobby but also many other blockbusters of the era, director Prakash Mehra’s Muqaddar Ka Sikandar remains iconic and could, in fact, be the quintessential 70s Hindi film.To understand what Muqaddar Ka Sikandar’s success means, needs to begin with looking at blockbusters of the 1970s that did not feature Amitabh Bachchan.

To understand what Muqaddar Ka Sikandar’s success means, one needs to begin with looking at blockbusters of the 1970s that did not feature Amitabh Bachchan.

Amongst the films that one readily recalls from the era, there is only a handful that does not feature Bachchan, at least post-1975 where he finally arrived with Sholay and Deewar (1975). In this list, the films that prominently feature are Hum Kissie Se Kum Nahin (1977), Khel Khel Mein (1975), Golmaal (1979) and Aandhi (1975), to name a few. When you look at these films, the genres — musical, romance, comedy — vastly differ from the ones that Bachchan ensconced himself in. Even in Bachchan’s own case, when one considers these genres the more successful examples are Chupke-Chupke (1975), Hera Pheri (1976) in comedy, Kabhi Kabhie (1976) in romance. Perhaps that is why a Muqaddar Ka Sikandar is forgotten by even the diehard film aficionados.

The other reason why Muqaddar Ka Sikandar is overlooked could also have to do with Bachchan’s ‘other’ films becoming bigger cultural milestones for a cross-section of the audiences. When compared to Sholay, Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Kabhi Kabhie and Don (1979), Muqadaar Ka Sikandar appears to cater to a specific group. The character that Bachchan played in the film is a homeless urchin brought up by his foster mother (Nirupa Roy). He is wronged by nearly everyone he has ever come across. Unlike the other films, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar had elements of comedy, action and romance but it was not multi-dimensional enough to cater to all types of audiences.

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