Around two years ago, me and Beth compared our Vinod Khanna notes, and she recommended some films I hadn't yet seen while I recommended some films of his that she hadn't got to yet. In that conversation, Beth recommended the film Gaddaar from 1973 (here is her write-up of it), and has been on my "to see" list ever since. However, in typical Vinod Khanna bad luck, one of his better 70's films seemed to be universally, perpetually unavailable, and underappreciated. I did my regular searches on the online stores and youtubes of the world wide web, and always, always came up empty. In India, I scrutinized every G-section of a DVD shop. Nothing. Ever.
It's not like being a Vinod Khanna fan is easy without the hunt for underappreciated gem films of his being this arduous. The man only had about a decade of solid stardom before he regrettably retrieved from the material world, only to return when Hindi cinema was at its creatively crappiest. If you have nostalgia for the action flicks of the late 80's and early 90's, and dig that particular Vinod Khanna, more power to you, but I personally can't pretend that those performances have even a quarter of the charm his 70's filmography does. It's tired plots and tired performances, and thus my first question when hearing about a Vinod Khanna film isn't "is it good?" but rather, "when was it released?". So hearing about Gaddaar, an early 70's film, and seeing the screen caps and the high recommendations, I had to have it, and it killed me that it was nowhere to be found, despite my best efforts.
Eventually, though, I found Gaddaar (with a little, okay, a lot of help from Carla), or it found me - and I honestly couldn't be happier about the fact.
The real triumph of the story is that as the search winds down, Gaddaar becomes less of a crime film and more a drama thriller between the the thieves, and the bystanders who are forced to get involved. It gives these character actors more to do than they otherwise get to in your average masala flick, where the focus is so much on the hero, and crooks are usually merely just that. Here, their relations with one another form the backbone of the film, and make for a gripping watch, particularly as the latter half of the film is spent in one particular setting.
And then there's Vinod.
Also: he's got swag up to his shiny, perfect hair-do. Pure swag.
It always bugs me to recommend a film I know you'll probably have at least half the trouble finding as I did, but regardless, that I must do. It's a great film to check out if you're not quite with the over-the-top traits of a typical 1970's masala, but still would like to see the style and some of the actors (because let's face it, 70's Pran, 70's Iftekhar and Ranjeet in general are all joys to witness). It's a nice change of pace in many ways, and without a doubt one of the most underrated Hindi films of the 1970's.