Dharma(Amitabh Bachchan)is a simple villager.He is a farmer by profession and is a clean hearted man.He has a beautiful wife Ganga(Waheeda Rahman),a younger sister and a son.Once 3 rich men(Anwar Hussain,Sujit Kumar being 2 of them) from city visit the village.Dharma accompanies them to forest where they go for hunting but things take a twist when a tiger attacks them.Dharma kills the tiger and saves the life of those 3 men.In recognition of his bravery they ask him to come to city and settle there.Later when Dharma’s bull dies and he is not able to reap an harvest he decides to move to city with his family.On his arrival he is given a job by them as promised.Later it is known that he is being entrapped in a conspiracy and he is soon jailed.His life gets from bad to worse when his sister is raped and she commits suicide.Dharma comes out of jail and swears vengeance against those 3 men.He is confronted on every corner by Inspector Khan(Kadar Khan),yet Dharma manages to take his revenge by bumping off all his enemies.
However his life changes as he becomes the king of underworld and controls the smuggling mafia.Many years later Dharma’s son Raju(Amitabh again) grows up as a England returned suave young man who falls for a pretty gal(Neetu Singh).Raju’s life takes a turn when he comes to know about his dad’s criminal background and this creates a rift between the father and son.Dharma tries to change his image but this makes his counterparts his enemies.They join hands and kill his wife.Dharma eventually kills them and gets killed in the progress.
Needless to say its Amitabh’s show all the way.Amitabh Bachchan has given superb performances as the mafia king in Deewar,Don in 70’s,Kaalia in 80’s,Agneepath in 90’s and Sarkar in 2000’s.Yet his performance in Adalat is as different from these as chalk is to cheese.He is simply superb as Dharma.As the village simpleton who is happy in his life to his transformation as a broken and cheated man and then as a revenge seeking guy and finally as a mafia don and a father-Amitabh makes Dharma one of his most memorable characters on screen.His outbreak in the court,the stylish killing of Anwar on the ship and finally his confrontation with his son and his death scene are all aces from the superstar.His critics who had some doubts that Amitabh could not do justice to a rural character can eat a humble pie after watching his splendid portrayal of a typical U.P. waala rural character as opposed to a Haryanvi villager in blockbuster Namak Halaal.Playing an older man in the second half of the film at the peak of his carrier was also brave and some justice is done by the younger double role.The role of the son Amitabh looks somehow fit for Shashi Kapoor and moreso Rishi Kapoor.The role of a young England return romantic young man who does not like violence is totally different from whatever Amitabh had/has done.To be honest the role is not that well developed as that of the father and Amitabh does look stupid in some scenes with Neetu Singh(he even calls her Hello Sexy!!) yet Amitabh gets his due in the confrontation scenes with his dad and the scenes with Waheeda.He proves that he could do and get away with the typical Shashi Kapoor-Rishi Kapoor mould of roles alongwith his usual angry ridden roles.Infact Amitabh style of portraying Munna/Raju is the base from where Abhishek Bachchan did his earlier performances.This is perhaps the only performance where Amitabh’s acting look so close to that of his real life son.Amitabh was nominated alongwith his performance of Kabhi kabhie for best actor at Filmfare but lost to Sanjeev Kumar who won the award for Arjun Pandit.The fact that Kabhi Kabhie became a cult film and Hera Pheri’s phenomenol success also made a dent in Adalat’s popularity.
Waheeda Rahman also does justice to her role and it was her second role with Big B in 1976-the other being Kabhi Kabhie.Neetu Singh looks silly but still is adequate.Anwar-the brother of Nargis is menacing as the villain.Sujit Kumar plays the rapist adequately.K.N.Singh also shows his class of villainy.the 3rd villain(whom I don’t know the name) is just about okay.however,the performance of the actror who plays Amitabh’s friend and later his enemy is worth praising.he is the same actor who played the short role of his father in Zanjeer.
After Amitabh Bachchan if there is any actor who stands apart in Adalat is Kadar Khan.he had done small roles in Daag and Bairaag,but it was with Adalat that he arrived with a bang as an actor besides making it big as a dialogue writer.caste in the role of Inspector Khan,Kadar gives what can be safely said as his best performance.His role is very important to the film and he does it without any loudness which became a trademark of his latter day performances.Infact,the role of an Inspector trying to crack a case reached cult status with Amjad Khan’s role in Qurbaani,yet it was somehow in this role that Kadar Khan set the ball rolling without the eccentricity attached.In years to follow he became a successful villain and became a favourite of Amitabh bachchan.
On the whole,Adalat although looks date technically and the fact that films based/inspired from it became more famous,yet it can be disputed that it is one of Amitabh’s best work and it deserves a viewing for viwers who have not watched it.
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