How true this statement holds for Kanti Shah. When Kanti Shah embarked on a journey to make Loha, little did he know that he was embarking on a journey that was destined to change the course of cinema forever. A journey which would be fulfilled with Gunda – the epic follow up to Loha and that in the years to come would be regarded as the greatest film ever known to and ever made by mankind. How else do you explain a film like Loha in which the visionary Kanti Shah not only pushes the envelope but also makes a scathing comment in many ways on the modern day Indian society and its fundamentally corrupt structure. On a surface level, Loha is a tale of one man’s fight against the corrupt systems and the remorseless, spineless people ruining the already defunct system. But dig deeper and soon you will find that it makes a scathing comment addressing every level of the social structure of India.
A world where the men in uniform are silent spectators or accomplices to the evil misdeeds of the perverse criminals. A world where women are forcefully fornicated resulting in their brothers or husbands embarking a bloody spree of vendetta. Only a truly gifted individual like Kanti Shah can address various issues successfully through the medium of cinema. And for greatness to attain the power of divinity it requires extraordinary powers. Hence Kanti Shah gets together the great Dharamendra and our beloved Prabhuji a.ka. Mithunda to give us this great celluloid offering called Loha.
The first few scenes are perhaps the best ever shot and written scenes which display a didactic verbal duel between two equally powerful individuals, Tandya(Deepak Shrike) the erstwhile mentor and Lukka(Mohan Joshi) the scheming , deceiving, wily protégé who indulge in a dirty battle for gaining absolute power over the underworld. In the first few minutes through their duel, Kanti Shah tackles various social issues such as child labour, child abuse and so on that leaves the viewer agape and enlightened. The issues are addressed through powerfully written dialogues that were definitely written with the ink dipped in acid.
Tandya refers to child labour as “Jab tu din mein boot polish aur raat ko tel maalish karta tha” and child abuse as “Log Chikna Chikna bol ke tere pichhwaade haath ghumaate the, isske pehle ki unka haath galat jagah pahunche maine tera haath pakda.”
It is then you also realise that Tandya’s character also represents the NGO’s who genuinely believe in helping victims of child labour and child abuse.
Tandya’s character also explains the food chain in such a simple way - “Kauwe ne Cheel ka chumma liya aur Cheel ne Choohe ka baccha paida kiya.”
Makes me wonder why do kids have to learn about the food chain in a boring and a complex way. Why cant our hypocritical education system approach Kanti Shah to make learning the fun and easy way?
Lukka also preaches the importance of safe sex and legalizing prostitution when he says “Tu uss aids lage hue randi ki tarah hai jisske pass koi girhaaik (customer) nahi aata hai.”
Kanti Shah has always been a source of inspiration to filmmakers who are inspired by his works but are spineless enough to not admit it. The long and zoom close ups which have become a signature of RGV’s recent works were successfully used by Kanti Shah in Loha and Gunda. This is just a sample of Kanti’s distinct camera angles technique.
There is also a completely disconnected parallel track between two star crossed lovers Govinda & Manisha Koirala (who daringly enough play themselves) which inspired Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez to make Grindhouse which featured two separate films ‘Death Proof’ and ‘Planet Terror’. Govinda and Manisha Koirala also make subtle references to their star status through lines such as
“Jo hai sabse pyaara banda, yeh toh wahi hai Govinda” and “Kahin tum Nepal ka tala , Manisha Koirala to nahin ho?”
Even Martin Scorcese was inspired by Loha while making ‘The Departed’. The character of Inspector Kale (played to perfection by Ishrat Ali) clearly inspired Mark Wahlberg’s character in The Departed. The only superficial change made by our dear Marty was making Wahlberg a foul mouthed but an efficient cop. While Inpsector Kale was not only foul mouthed but also disrespectful even towards the commissioner (Kiran Kumar).
Kanti Shah also does a classy job of in film promotion of brands through Inspector Kale’s character.
Kanti promotes Zee TV in a very classy way through Kale and commissioner’s character when Commissioner asks Inspector Kale with “Kahaan they ab tak?” to which he responds by “ Zee TV dekh raha tha”
This makes me wonder why can’t our folks from Bollywood shed their egos and learn from Kanti Shah to use film making beyond that of the usual entertainment value.
Beauty knows no class, creed and economic status, a fact that is beautifully re-iterated when a bhrasht mantri (Pramod Moutho) is mesmerised after seeing his driver’s daughter(who is wearing a skimpy top coupled with hot pants) and mutters “Driver ki beti! Itni sexy”.
Of course how can you not mention the great Dharam Paaji who makes his entry in between these trysts of cinematic greatness and does things only which he could do and makes Newton and other stalwarts of science feel like complete jackasses. Like pulling down a helicopter in motion with a rope and catching bullets in hand and turning them into mere dust particles. Things which could turn Rajinikanth into an insomniac.
Prabhuji makes his entry with a few lines that reaffirm his Godly status and confirms that indeed he is a truly divine persona
“Dikhne mein bevda, bhaagne mein ghoda, aur maarne mein hathoda” and makes a scathing comment on the corrupt Indian judicial system.“Aapka yeh kanoon, aur bhagwaan, jab bhi kisi ko deta hai, to chappar faadke deta hai, aur jab leta hai, to thappad maarke leta hai”.
Prabhu bhakts are bound to attain Nirvana after watching the scenes in which the great Hotel Monarch is visible in the background in some of the key scenes. Kanti Shah also pays homage to his favourite films and role models through various scenes like the background score in the opening scene is a direct homage to Star Wars and Prabhuji plays a army man sporting long locks paying tribute to Jim Morrison.
Few key scenes in the background bear a replica of a Shark which resembles the one seen in the iconic poster of the movie Jaws.
Kanti Shah also tries to highlight the clash between Corporate Governance , ethics and the ruthless machinations and greed of the multinationals who don’t about anything other than maximising their profits. This is represented through the characters of Mustafa (Shakti Kapoor) and Lukka (Mohan Joshi) representing the former and latter respectively. When Mustafa opposes Lukka’s idea of selling drugs a la Modern retail format as it is highly unethical, Lukka chops both the hands of Mustafa and expands the drug business into a flourishing trade. This is a sardonic representation of the fact that the large corporations don’t even value human life when it comes to maximising their profits.
And while talking about Kanti Shah and his magical celluloid creations, how can one forget the great dialogue writer Bashir Babbar. Through his beautifully penned lines, Babbar has helped Kanti Shah’s magical creations attain an even more divine status. Or else how do you explain these lines:
“Main Dhobi Ghaat ke tuteli khaat pe ,tujhe leta leta ke maroonga”
“Main tera woh bura haal karoonga, jo deemag lakdi ka aur chhipkali makdi ka karti hai”
“Phone sunte hi tumhara chehra kisi garbhavati billi ki pet ki tarah kyon gir gaya’’
Or when Lukka confronts Shankar (Dharam Paaji) “Dekha Shankar, mujhse dosti karne waale ko Himalay ki pahad ki choti par bithaata hoon, aur mujhse dushmani karne waale ko main hari mirch ki chutney par bithaata hoon.”
In fact due to the presence of such powerful dialogues being present all throughout Loha and Gunda, there was a huge demand to release the dialogue cassette of these films. But unfortunately it could not materialise thanks to the snobbish and hypocritical Indian censor board.
While the Censor board deemed the dialogues to be pedestrian and vulgar, they fail to appreciate it’s lyrical romanticism and the pedestrian charm. They failed to understand that the dialogues were deliberately written in a way which would deliver the message to the aam janta in a shocking and stunning yet enlightening way. Anyways, the deep profound insights offered on human beings and the society by Kanti Shah’s films is beyond the understanding of the mere mortals and faggots occupying important positions with the censor board office.
Not many are aware that with Loha, the famous international innerwear brand Jockey had made inroads into film production in India. But then again seeing the kind of revolutionary content that they had produced, Bollywood film producers feared that it would make them extinct. And hence they teamed up with the then existing Government to drive Jockey films out of India on the flimsy grounds of FDI and other stringent Government norms and regulations. While a lot of people are aware of the greatness of Gunda, many people are sadly still unaware of the genesis of Gunda i.e Loha. What Batman Begins is to The Dark Knight, fornication is to the living species, Loha is to Gunda.
It is the humble beginning of an epic journey leading to the great path of cinematic greatness which touches us and impacts our life in many ways. Go watch it if you haven’t yet and get enlightened.