‘Once in a blue moon, kabhi kabhie…’ (on Ghai’s Vishwanath)

This remains my favorite among all of Ghai’s films. This was his second film as director, the first being (also with Shatrughan Sinha) Kaalicharan, itself a very engaging masala effort. But Vishwanath is a camp classic which is also at the same time a rather dark vendetta theme with a whole (and rather disturbing) gallery of rogues led by the redoubtable and always show stealing Premnath. There was a whole tradition of Leone and (perhaps even more than this) Corbucci inspired ‘Westerns’ made in Bombay in the 70s, many of which starred the recently deceased Feroz Khan. I am thinking of films like Kaala Sona or Khote Sikkey or Kabeela. But even in other masala genres the ‘villains’ of that Italian or Italian-Hollywood tradition often spilled over. Vishwanath is one of the films in this latter tradition and there aren’t too many other works in this period where the henchmen are as much fun!

The film has some really cheesy and by now cult lines. My favorite remains Ranjeet’s “once in a blue moon, kabhi kabhie” (which gives this post its title) but when Qalandar here reads this post he will assuredly reproduce the great bit of ‘poetry’ from Sinha that occurs late in the film.

This 70s masala phase of Ghai was very different from the later works of the 80s that in turn increasingly reflected the politically emergent right wing ethos of the period. But the other films that belong to this phase, besides the two mentioned, are Gautam Govinda, Krodhi, Karz with Vidhaata possibly at the cusp.


29 Responses to “‘Once in a blue moon, kabhi kabhie…’ (on Ghai’s Vishwanath)”

  1. Re: “…hen Qalandar here reads this post he will assuredly reproduce the great bit of ‘poetry’ from Sinha that occurs late in the film.”

    As rajen would say, Q is nothing is not predictable: “Jalee ko aag, bujhee ko raakh kehte hain; jis raakh se barood banay, us aag ko Vishwanath kehte hain!”


  2. omrocky786 Says:

    Superb stuff
    Kalicharan had better one liners and more Masala moments to it though!!


    • thanks much.. yes Kaalicharan has more masala aplomb but better one liners than those two from Vishwanath? I don’t know! Premnath of course is great in both but I really loved him as the villain in the 70s movies.


  3. omrocky786 Says:

    Well the whole- Tumhe shayad yeh nahin maloom ke main Kali ka Charan hoon, and the LION- NO17 crap with the BGM- Kalicharannnnnnn !! LOL


  4. I’ve been meaning to watch Kalicharan for some time – I just really don’t like Sinha.


    • I find Sinha quite effective as a screen presence though it’s hard to digest him in a solo. Ghai’s two films are the exceptions.


      • I just haven’t warmed up to him. He’s so stiff and miscast in Kaala Patthar….frankly, the whole time I just wanted Bachchan to kick the shit out of him, which probably makes his performance (partly) a success.


        • You kidding?! Shatru was the best in Kaala Pathar.

          Mangal Singh was a well-written character played to aplomb by Sinha. I’m bewildered.


    • you should check out Ghai’s Krodhi with Shashi and Dharam. The film marries Guide with Desai. The excesses of masala with a pseudo-Buddhist trope of renunciation. The film isn’t successfully realized, a lot more could have been achieved here but it’s fun.


  5. omrocky786 Says:

    Trust me, You will not mind Shotgun in this movie !1


  6. omrocky786 Says:

    Satyam, The posters are simply superb, specially the Coolie one !!


    • True. Also, Satyam – that latest poll’s results says a lot on Aamir’s rather diverse fan base…


    • thanks Rocky.. there was more of a variety here but I put up as many Feroz Khan ones as I could find as a tribute to him.. I earlier did the same when Shakti Samantha died..

      The coolie one is indeed historic!


      • omrocky786 Says:

        remember I was talking about Cinema Scope movies earlier, I rememnber that for a long time the old Picture halls would install a temporary wall to wall screen to screen Cinema Scope movies. The actual smaller screen would be behind this makeshift screen.


  7. masterpraz Says:

    FANTASTIC piece here…this to my mind remains on my favorite masala films of that time minus Bachchan! VISHWANATH in short rocked…Pran, the whole list of villains, this was indeed a campy masala film with a rather darg edge. Ranjeet and his line is an all time classic.

    The final fight scene as Shatru punches Premnath and asks him to spell his name…each letter gets a punch as a blood sputtering Premnath tries to run away!

    JAB JAB JO JO HONA HAI too is a great song…VISHWANATH holds so many childhood memories, should really re-visit this again in coming months..


  8. Fun post here. I saw parts of it on telly after a long time but the film is still loads of fun. And Ranjeet as Khokha is creepy

    But there is a particular scene which to my mind is the highlight of the film- in a moment reminiscent of Deewar Shatru, after being beaten up, declared holding the temple bell that he will now take up the evil path. And this scene keeps shifting back and forth with the one where Reena Roy (always liked her pairing with Shatru) declares in the church that she will become a good girl. These are things which you no more see in Hindi cinema.

    And you rightly mention the henchmen of both Vishwanath as well as of Prem Nath (not sure if U are aware but the guy who directed kjo produced We Are Family/Stepmom remake is Prem Nath’s grandson) were a hoot. And they all had a ‘distinct’ personality just like those in Leone’s films. It was as if Ghai had spent quite some time on casting these guys for even those blink-and-miss roles (one of the baddie in Viswanath’s gang is the actor who played the role of Zidesko in AAA who was the ‘fake’ bodyguard of Jenny). Ghai also had a thing for tridents (trishul)- so in Kaalicharan if U recall in that famous fight scene with Shatru, Danny has one attached attached in place of his leg. Here one of the baddies use it to bash Shatru.

    But not sure how you find it Ghai’s best. IMO Khalnayak followed by Karz are his top works. Btw the only Ghai film I have never seen is Gautam Govinda (cannot locate the DVD). How is it


  9. Shatru was the only actor in bollywood who gives AB tough figts and going parallel with AB between 1975 to 1980.Even in kala patthar and dostana he over shadow AB.But 80 onwords AB starts dominating.This was because shatru don’t had typical hero look which bollywood require.this is the reason why most people hate him.but he was a vary strong actor.


  10. Why is this post showing under the Jubilee tab ?
    may be once in a blue moon, kabhi kabhi asis hot hai !!! LOL
    Aside- was re reading all the comments on this post ..those were the days !!


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