I had heard a lot about the classic novel The Godfather written by Mario Puzo but not read it. One day, in the year 2005, I made up my mind to read it. I arranged the original English version of the novel and started reading it. After reading a few chapters, I started getting a sense of deja vu. Why ? I wondered as neither I had read the novel before nor had I read any other book on the similar lines. In a puzzled state of mind, I continued to read but a part of my mind was still roaming in the wilderness of my memory lane to find the answer to the query as to why the characters and the events of the novel were sounding familiar to me. Suddenly the answer flashed like a lightening in my mind. While reading the novel, I was missing a movie which I had seen some two decades back. The movie was Dharmatma (1975) and it was more or less a ditto of this worldwide famous novel which had become a trend-setter for the stories based on the underworld. Perhaps the word ‘Don’ used for the underworld gangsters was also coined because of the central character of this novel, Don Vito Corleone.Dharmatma was made by the most stylish actor-producer-director of Bollywood – Feroz Khan by taking Prem Nath in the title role which is a ditto of Don Vito Corleone of The Godfather. The story is almost the same with Don being backstabbed by his own son-in-law who has collided with his enemies. His noble son, Michael Corleone revenges for the murder of his father and his elder brother and quite unwillingly he has to step into the shoes of his father and accept his mantle of the underworld empire. Feroz Khan has made his film almost on the same line and the screenplay takes a variance from the novel at just a few places only. The biggest difference shown by Feroz Khan is that the hero of his movie, i.e., himself is not ready to follow his father’s footsteps and in fact, does not do so. He is happy just by inflicting revenge upon his father’s murderers. He does not have any elder brother like Santino Corleone also.However the characters (male and female) as well as the incidents are the same as the novel. Yet the movie is a good watch. A part of the movie has been shot in Afghanistan which is very good to watch. The movie has a glossy look just like the typical Feroz Khan movies and is packed with action and violence. Those who have not read the classic novel of Mario Puzo or not watched the Hollywood movie under the same title, will definitely like it. The pace of the movie is fast and melodious music is another big plus point of the movie.Director Feroz Khan is definitely better than the actor Feroz Khan who has not shaped his character in the movie like Michael Corleone of the novel. In this way, Ram Gopal Verma’s Sarkar (2005) scores over it because the character of Abhishek Bachchan is definitely the character of Michael Corleone only. Yet, Dharmatma is much better than Sarkar because ultimately The Godfather is the story of Don Vito Corleone only and this powerful character has been ably portrayed through Premnaath in Dharmatma by Feroz Khan. RGV completely failed to bring the soul of Don in the character of Amitabh Bachchan in Sarkar and that’s where his film miserably failed. Feroz Khan, on the other hand, has presented a rock-solid, mighty character in the form of Dharmatma who can quite justifiably call himself as another form of Don Vito Corleone of The Godfather.The movie runs fast scene-by-scene and only the romantic track slows down the pace of the free-flowing narrative. However the classic duets sung by Mukesh and Kanchan viz. Kya Khoob Lagti Ho and Tumne Kaisi Se Kabhi Pyar Kiya Hai plus Kishore Kumar’s classic song –Tere Chehre Mein Woh Jaadoo Hai have made this part of the movie too, a pleasure to watch. This melodious music has been composed by Kalyanji Anandji. The movie has high production value and the editor has also done his job well. However I would have patted him, had he reduced the violence in the movie to some extent.The cinematographer has done a splendid job by ably capturing the beauty of Afghanistan. Since this is a movie prior to the turmoil in Afghanistan in the late seventies and the continuously deteriorating situation thereafter (till date), this beautiful country looks really beautiful perhaps for the first and the only time in a Bollywood movie.Acting wise talking, Feroz Khan himself is a let down. However all the other actors Hema Malini, Rekha, Danny Dengjongpa, Farida Jalal and all the baddies, viz. Imtiaz Ali Khan, Sudhir, Ranjeet etc. have done well. However the really mentionable performance has been delivered by Premnaath in the title role. Looking at his personality and performance, we can unarguably, call him the Indian Don Vito Corleone.Dharmatma is one of the fast-paced, glossy looking thriller movies made by Feroz Khan in the seventies. It is not a great movie but a good watch, beyond doubt.
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