About the story: Like many other poor peasants, Mukhiya Hardayal (Anupam Kher) suffers under the inhuman and cruel thakur Sher Bahadur Singh (Amrish Puri). When Hardayal’s wife Krishna (Beena) dies while giving birth to their second son Karamveer, Hardayal developes an unconciliable hatred against this child and gives all his love to his first-born Suraj. As the latter is very gifted, the thakur offers Hardayal a loan of money so that Suraj can attend a secondary school in Bombay. Hardayal takes the loan – and learns only afterwards that the thakur has duped him and he will never be able to work off the thakur’s terms. When Suraj (Jackie Shroff) returns home fifteen years later with excellent school qualifications, he meets a father whose back is irremediably broken after an accident, and his brother Karamveer (Sanjay Dutt) who, under the thakur’s and his father’s thumb, has grown up to be a rebellious and insubordinate fighter. After a confrontation with Suraj, the thakur realizes that this educated young man can become dangerous for him. He persuades Hardayal to send Suraj abroad for further studies, but he arranges that Suraj after his arrival gets arrested for alliged drug smuggling. Now the family’s fate seems sealed, the thakur henceforth unrestrainedly takes his sadistic cruelty out on Hardayal and Karamveer...
The story has its weaknesses, let’s start with that. You can hardly understand why Suraj once more leaves his family for studies after having seen his father and his brother suffering at the mercy of a deceitful thakur; the plot about his alleged drug smuggling gets forgotten completely and then is solved quasi in passing; and not for a second you do believe that the thakur in a later scene doesn’t recognize the two brothers in a really poor disguise. On the other hand, you get a story for even two angry young men with different priorities: one of them uses rather his brains (Suraj) while the other one lets his heart reign (Karamveer). Both in their own ways fight against the cruel thakur who ill-treats and tortures their father and, in turn, confronts the brothers in his own way, so that you feel drawn into a whirlpool of sadism and violence where’s no escape and where love has no chance – that’s why Sonam (Sujata) and Farha Naaz (Chanda) as Suraj’s and Karamveer’s girlfriends are not very much more than props.
Amrish Puri plays this sort of sadistic and mean thakurs offhanded, this time he not even shys back from using the whip himself. Anupam Kher intensly and grippingly shapes the oppressed subordinate and inwardly torn father, and even his unfair bearing against Sanjay cannot prevent you from sympathizing with this fate-tossed man. His outburst of desperation in a temple after a terrible catastrophy gets under your skin. Sanjay, acting extremely extrovertly, makes no secret of Karamveer’s anger and frustration about his unfair treatment by the thakur as well as by his father, but he even moves and touches you when he with several selfless commitments proves his worth as a son. Jackie Shroff, as so often, is the calm antithesis to hot-headed Sanjay ("hosh aur josh") but, like the latter, can also become very unpleasant and then get rough, too. Both harmonize very well and already to some extent show the chemistry which later should become so elementary for films like Khalnayak and Kartoos. They even shake a leg together several times, and that astoundingly smart too, considering that Sanjay at that time just had started to unfold his dance talents fully and that dancing definitely is not Jackie’s favourite discipline.
The supporting figures are indeed just supports, the ladies as well as Kulbhushan Kharbanda, who is pretty wasted in the guest role of Rehmat, and Shakti Kapoor, who as inspector Himmat Singh delivers a rather nasty cock performance which he, on the other hand, may be absolved for as he (it’s no spoiler to give away this as it has no relevancy for the plot) works under cover and just feigns the gimp. The story including the merciless showdown, however, completely belongs to Sanjay, Jackie, Anupam and Amrish. Of course you can complain about some incredibilities, but on the other hand you can intensely commiserate with Sanjay and Anupam in many gripping scenes. This alone would be enough for me to make Jeene Do a watchworth movie.
Produced by Rakesh Sethi; Directed by Rajesh Sethi
134 Min.; VCD: Raj-Video, without subs; initial image interferences increase towards the end.
P.S. My first Jeene Do VCD from Bombino was in a technically miserable shape. The image interferences were worse that on the Raj’s, and after 82 minutes it hung up, and I missed about half an hour of the film. Whereas the Raj VCD at least played the film completely, even though this release too had its technical weaknesses.