Dharmatma (1975) Feroz Khan does The Godfather, Bollywood style


When Feroz Khan died earlier this year, I thought I’d better see a few more of his films in order to pay tribute to his career.  One of the most mentioned films of Khan’s career seemed to be Dharmatma (1975), so I watched it.

Feroz Khan, who has died aged 69, was an Indian actor and producer who became one of Bollywood’s biggest stars; with his swagger and tough-guy styling he was compared to American leading men like Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen. He based one typically all-action picture, Dharmatma (1975), on Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning film, The Godfather, and starred in another as a suave racing driver who wins the world championship. Later he appeared in a series of cowboy films that aped the Spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone – they became known as Curry Westerns. (source)

First off, let me get this spectacular image out of the way:

Hema Malini’s character declaring her orphan-hood.

darmatma.orphan

Don’t you think that reel for reel Bollywood may have the highest occurrence of orphans than any other film industry in the world?  Now back to the movie Dharmatma (1975), which is essentially supposed to be a Hindustani-ized version of The  Godfather.  One thing The Godfather doesn’t have is Helen.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the film I copied from IMDB:

DHARMATMAWealthy, powerful and influential Seth Dharamdas leads a financially secure life in a palatial mansion. He is known to come to the aid of all people who are beyond any hope of assistance, and this leads to him being known as “Dharmatma”. But Seth Dharamdas does have a number of skeletons in his closet, and a parallel life as a gangster. The only person Dharamdas hates and fears is none other than his very own son, Ranbir, who has sworn that he will never compromise with his father’s dark career, and threatens to expose him. Dharamdas has never conceded surrender or defeat at the hands of any mortal, and will never even consider to do so – even if this means the death of Ranbir. (by rAjOo)

Rekha plays a smaller part in this film and is in love with  the rugged, morally upstanding Ranbir (Feroz Khan).darmatma.enemies

Alas,  Ranbir has sets his sights on Reshma (Hema Malini) a girl living over the border in Afghanistan, since it’s never quite Bollywood until there’s a love triangle.  I enjoyed the lavish tent like home where Hema’s character lived. It looked like a high class yurt, but I thought yurts were in Mongolia, not Afghanistan, right?   Even in this opulently decorated  tent, she’s stifled

darmatma.suffocate

Her adoptive father isn’t going for her relationship with a man of another culture, but she does what she can to change his heart and mind.

darmatma.culture darmatma.orphan.beg

For a taste of that nomadic life, enjoy Meri Galiyon Se, featuring playback singer Lata Mangeshkar with the music of Kalyanji Anandji, and picturized on Hema Malini in some nomadic camp in Afghanistan, or maybe it’s in movie studio, you be the judge. Both Danny Denzongpa and Khan’s character are smitten with Hema’s Reshma. Who will win her love?

Besides digging the hip 70′s vibe of this flick, I was delighted to find it had one of my favorites, Farida Jalal, who played Mona, the sister to Feroz Khan’s Ranbir.  Unfortunately, she’s married to a dacoit, Kundan (Imtiaz Khan) but it takes her sometime to figure this out.  Kundan’s  gangster side kicks are played by Ranjeet and Sudhir, who wear matching outfits throughout the film.  Their shirts are always open, and often made of sheer fabrics. They are very, very bad men, but more on them later.

dharmatma.badguys

Wait a minute, even the good guy wears an open, chest hair bearing shirt a lot of the time:

dharmatma.spell

Eventually Mona lets her creepy gangster husband know that she doesn’t like the lowly company he’s keeping which causes some marital strife.

dharmatma.Farida.dirtyhands dharmatma.Farida.wifewhore

Doesn’t she know this is Bollywood and a woman cannot talk to a man in such a way without suffering a tight slap to the face?  Even I saw that one coming.

dharmatma.Farida.slap

Mona’s husband may be a hopeless pig, but her brother is reliable and caring.   Everything is fine on Raksha Bandhan and she ties a rakhi on brother Ranbir.  Look how sweet!

dharmatma.Farida.Feroz.rehki

Yet moments later she changes her warm feelings when she realizes that …

dharmatma.slap.2 dharmatma.slap

Can’t you almost feel that tight slap to the face, or at least hear it?  When I saw this in the opening credits I was very pleased:

darmatma.ranjeet

I’m a big Ranjeet fan.  It’s most likely psychologically problematic that I find his bad boy characters irresistibly attractive, but I’ll work that out on my own time.  dharmatma.sudhirNormally I love Ranjeet, but his character was so extra creepy in Dharmatma, that I found him only mildly hot, not ultra hot.  Hats off to his acting distracting me from his beauty. Was is due to being paired with a creepy sidekick played by Sudhir that was too much?  Who knows, but together in their sheer, unbuttoned, and always matching shirts, they were repulsive. I looked forward to seeing each new outfit.

dharmatma.badguys.3

Their characters were abusive and drunk most of the time. Take a nice look at them here. I believe there can never be enough photos of Ranjeet out there for the world to see, no matter what.

dharmatma.badguys.4

Ranjeet wears a pinky ring here, which is a tell tale sign of villain-hood:

dharmatma.badguys.2

dharmatma.badguys.5 dharmatma.ranjeet.2

Now allow Feroz Khan’s memory to live on and please read his words of wisdom.

dharmatma.revenge

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16 thoughts on “Dharmatma (1975) Feroz Khan does The Godfather, Bollywood style

  1. Facially, Farida Jalal reminds me of Jyothika.

    Hema looks ultra-gorgeous. I wish that alone could inspire me to want to watch this. It doesn’t sound half-bad, but I can’t see this movie getting a lot of repeat viewings in my player.

    • lapetitediva-ji,
      You’re correct Joythika and Farida have a similar look. Thanks for your visit and reading between the lines. It was definitely not a movie I’d recommend to someone, unless they were really interested already. I try not to really rate the films in my little write ups, since I just know what I like, and don’t try to say “see this” or “don’t see this” type of thing. This blog is more of a “This is what I saw and look at these cool screen caps” sort of deal with me. In my own personal rating system, I’d give it about a 6/10 and that score is high only for the costumes and the fact that Khan took a stab at a remake of the Godfather. I appreciate you understanding the intent of the post. Enjoyable, but nothing I’d tell anyone to rush out and rent/buy. Just wanted to see a bit of the Feroz Khan legacy. :) Thanks for your visit and comments. :)

  2. A big Lol at your review of this film, i feel like running out to buy/rent it (my rental service however do not carry it) its so hard to come by, what was the make of your dvd.

    What the hell was going on in that Helen picturisation, Bollywood never had sex but it sure did have an awful lot of garish Innuendos

    I second your thoughts about Ranjeet, he is a hottie and his fashion choices never cease to amaze me and such a pity he got typecast an awful lot, it even started affecting him in real life, in the link you provided i read an interview where he said if he went to weddings/social events people were somewhat scared of him ‘awwwwww’

    i do love your take/review on films, its fun, engaging and always an enjoyable read. i myself never really tell people to directly avoid a film, most times when people tell me to avoid a film my hunger for it actually grows…lol

    • bollywooddeewana-ji,
      It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, just had those screen caps sitting around on my computer, but I remember renting it from Netflix, lekin you don’t have that across the pond, hai na?

      LOL, are you referring to this one that begins, “Do I look like a rapist?, asks Ranjeet”

      Another LOL to this, “i myself never really tell people to directly avoid a film, most times when people tell me to avoid a film my hunger for it actually grows” DITTO! I get a little oppositional defiant over it, Look, don’t tell ME what to avoid yaar! :D Thanks for your kind words bhai.

    • memsaab-ji,
      Yes the matchy-matchy stylings fo the double dacoits were intriguing. Yaar, loved your write up HERE. I know I didn’t even mention Premnath, so caught up with the dancing and the servant, but you’re right, he was great in his very dark performance.

  3. The goonda shirts are too awesome, especially with the sort-of matching blue kerchiefs. (I think Disney took a page from Bollywood’s handbook and integrated the orphan theme into every single film, ever.) On a side note, Hema’s probably one of the most gorgeous orphans ever!

    • ajnabi-ji,
      The goonda shirts were rocking hai! LOL about Disney. Yes they have quite a few dealings in orphanhood, and they even trump Bollywood since they use baby animal orphans. *awwwwwwhhhh* :( Thanks for checking in.

  4. This oenophile raises a glass of JW-BlueLabel to this post & a glass of Oh shall we say 1995 Chateau Pontet-Canet (a poor man’s Rothschild) to that last photo (poor man’s Clint Eastwood). That is assuming I can sit or stand straight for a minute, still rolling on the floor with laughter. I still have not made up my mind as to which of the individual snippets are the funniest; I will take all of them.
    I would also add the two fathers of Ranjeet & Sudhir, Jeevan & Sapru; absolutely over the top. Regarding Jeevan, Manmohan Desai is supposed to have said that any role played him him results in a comedy.
    “Go Ahead, Make My Day” with reviews like these.

    • Samir-ji,
      This is the highest compliment and gesture yet! The raising of the blue label! Above the black! And almost to the green! Furthermore, for an oenophile switching from vino to the whiskey to make said toast is a true gesture of respect. I in turn throw my self to your feet in reverence. So glad that I could channel the tidbits of this movie that I was so ammused by on to you and that you got it! Thanks for alerting me to the predesessors to Ranjeet-ji aur Sundir-ji: Jeevan & Sapru. I will look forward to seeing them (maybe have already but didn’t know?) and report back.
      Thanks for making my day, yaar!

  5. *sigh* Oh, Sitaji! You lubbs the Ranjeet? Woe!! Also, no Feroz Khan tribute would be complete without multiple viewings of the awesome Janbaaz! (I own the dvd. Yes, I also have problems.) You must watch it. May I add I do not like Rekha with exceedingly tweezed eyebrows- they really don’t suit her!

    • pitu-ji,
      On your recommendation I shall watch Janbaaz and check back with you. I COMPLETELY agree on the Rekha not looking as smashing as possible with the ultra thin brow. When I see that I think there just may have been some misogynist gay makeup artist saying, “No, Guuuurrl, didi! I sVear! Kasam se! (touching his throat) you look so good like this! Mindblowing! BILKUL Smashing!” So jealous he was of the Rekh that he did her wrong on the fashion tip. Just a theory. ;)

  6. Ooh, I haven’t seen such fine sheer shirts since “Amar Akbar Anthony.” If I had a time machine, I’d pit Rishi versus Ranjeet in a Good Vs. Evil sheer shirt wearing competition. So, possibly a good thing I don’t.

    • Anarchivist-ji,
      I would invest in said machine! The sheer shirts in Amar Akbar Anthony were indeed fantastic. Dekh! I would add Pran as Ranjeet’s dad, and maybe Ashok Kumar as Rishi’s dad and make it a 2 generation feud, since as you already may know, revenge is like old wine, the older the more intoxicating. Thanks for stopping in yaar. :)

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