Sanjay Dutt is back with a bang but sadly, the He-Man of Bollywood had to rely on a story that has been done to death, everywhere else in the world. In the revenge-saga Bhoomi he plays a father who takes revenge from those who violated his daughter and for a change, he trains his daughter as well.
Let’s take a trip down the memory lane and get to know which known actor has taken this route for success, for a comeback or to make a name for themselves.
1) Death Wish – Charles Bronson (1974)
Before there was Taken, there was Death Wish. It may not the first vengeful film but it certainly gave the filmmakers a plan on how to make one. Charles Bronson wanted a film series of his own after his rival Clint Eastwood made Dirty Harry his own.
He became a vigilante after his life was ripped apart – wife dead, daughter catatonic. In five films in the series that ended in 1994 (and will be revived later this year with Bruce Willis taking over), Bronson’s character did what he thought was right.
The police were scared of arresting him as he was the one doing their job; however, the monotonous tone of the franchise and Bronson’s age bored the audience and the series had to be shelved despite plans of a sixth film. Viewers all over the world loved the film’s idea and it was adapted wherever films were (and are) being made including Bhoomi.
2) Duniya – Dilip Kumar (1984)
With young heroes taking his place, the 62-year old Dilip Kumar decided to make a comeback in the 80s after doing no film between 1976 and 1981. With one-half of Salim – Javed on his side (Javed Akhtar turned solo writer with this film), Dilip Kumar played an innocent victim who lost his wife, friend, and son due to an injustice prison sentence.
On his return, he decides to take revenge from all those responsible and met his son whom he had presumed dead. Sadly, the father and son don’t know their relation and the son played by Rishi Kapoor agrees to kill his father for money. Of course, Dilip Kumar wins, like always!
3) Aakhree Raasta – Amitabh Bachchan (1986)
After a failed stint in politics in the mid-80s, Amitabh Bachchan’s career desperately needed a hit when suddenly, he came up with a revenge saga that not only revived his career as a leading man but pitted him against himself.
In Aakhree Raasta, Big B decides to go the Dilip Kumar way and play young-to-old as well as a young character with brilliance. Three people – one politician, one cop, and one doctor – raped his wife and framed him for her murder. He served 24 years in prison, returns to take revenge and finds out his own son (who doesn’t know that this man is his father) is the one person standing between him and the bad guys.
4) Eye for an Eye – Sally Field (1996)
Before she turned 50, Sally Field won an Oscar for playing Forrest Gump’s mother but she didn’t stop there; within a couple of years, she was back in the role of a mother who listens to her daughter getting raped and murdered.
When the court fails to implicate the rapist, she decides to take matters in her own hand and for that, she plans the act accordingly and in the end, gets her man where she wanted him. The film helped Sally Field extend her career in her 50s, a time when actresses either permanently become onscreen mothers or fade away.
5) Taken – Liam Neeson (2008)
When they took his daughter, they had no idea that he was a retired CIA agent; he threatened to kill them on phone and did that successfully three different times. Liam Neeson’s career was badly in need of Taken when he took on the role of Bryan Mills and it went on to become so successful that now a TV series is being aired about what made Bryan Mills, Bryan Mills.
Sanjay Dutt is roughly the same age as Liam Neeson was when he first played Mills; although the film’s premise was the same, Sanjay needed to be Neeson than a Bollywood star making a comeback after 3 years. The audience had to wait for a Sanjay Dutt punch or kick and that in my opinion was criminal on the part of the director.
6) Mom – Sridevi (2017)
Although the film released a few months back, it was a runaway success, making Sridevi’s 300th appearance all the more memorable. The film revolved around the same theme as Bhoomi but the pace was faster and dialogues more memorable than the Sanjay Dutt flick.
The victim here was very well played by Pakistani actress Sajal Ali and had Akshaye Khanna, Adnan Siddiqui and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in important roles. It was a Sridevi vehicle where the other actors also performed beyond expectations. It helped Sridevi make another comeback after English Vinglish (2012) and one hopes that the Hawa Hawai girl manages to stay back this time.
Omair Alavi is a senior entertainment journalist who tweets at omair78