About the story: The dacoit Zoravar (Suresh Oberoi), in a rage, parts with his his chief Charnayal Singh (Kader Khan), when the latter beats him up because of an attempted rape. Shortly thereafter, Zoravar shoots Charnayal's wife Champa (Nirupa Roi) who, dying, begs Charnayal to grant their little son Suraj the chance to live a decent life. Charnayal breaks with his past and confides himself to the upright police inspector Sangram Singh (Shashi Kapoor), who offers him, together with his wife (Seema Deo), to raise Suraj like their own son while Charnayal serves twenty years in jail for his crimes. During these years, Champa’s dream comes true: Suraj (Sanjay Dutt) has become a decent and honest police officer. Besides, he also finds time for a flirt with pretty Venesha (Amrita Singh) – without knowing that she (though not out of her free will) works for Zoravar who nowadays calls himself Jabbar and tops Suraj’s black list. When Charnayal is released from prison, Sangram takes him in as his brother. Jabbar learns about Suraj’s true origin and blackmails Charnayal to shoulder a murder committed by Jabbar, or else he would publicise that the honorable police officer Suraj is the son of a criminal. Unresistingly, Charnayal gets himself arrested by his own son. But now, finally, Sangram tells Suraj the truth about his father. Now Suraj is determined to finish Jabbar off – no matter by which means...
Naam O Nishan (= existence) is a dramaturgically stringent and partially very emotional film with a high spirited cast where, besides Sanjay, Suresh Oberoi stands out who for once was signed to play a veritable villain and, fitted out with Rasta hair-style and blue contact lenses, obviously had fun doing so. Kader Khan too was a pleasant surprise – though rather misshapen by silvergrey wool on his head and chin, I rarely have seen him so sentimental, and he always has the public’s sympathies on his side when he selflessly fights for his son’s happiness. Moreover, he harmonizes well with Shashi Kapoor who has not very much to do and delivers a solid performance. A good achievement is also to be attested to Amrita Singh, but you should add revisingly: in her clips which really are top, while scenically, she unfortunately rarely exists at all. Why, even Priya Tendulkar as Geeta got a better deal as she, by interceding boldly, stops a perfidious complot of Jabbar against Suraj.
Honorable police officers unfortunately tend to be rather boring film figures, and indeed Sanjay has to stand upon his defence against this danger with all means. Of course he is fully present from the first till the last minute, but his hour strikes in the film’s last phase when Charnayal returns into Suraj’s life and the law-abiding Suraj, not knowing that Charnayal is his father, hurts him deeply, but repents his behaviour when he learns about the truth, and takes the real culprit to task. From that moment on, Sanjay is in his element, and as he got emotionally compliant co-stars like Kader and Shashi, the three create some really strong and heart-moving scenes. These together with some high-speed car chases, Amrita’s terrific dances and the diabolic Suresh make Naam O Nishan worth watching.
Produced by B.P. Verma; Directed by Ajay Kashyap
122 Min.; DVD: Shemaroo, English Subtitles (including songs); after 12 minutes, some of the subtitles come much too early, but fortunately this mistake is only short-lived.