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On Its 40th Anniversary, Gen-Z Watches 'Satte Pe Satta' for the First Time

'Satte Pe Satta' is 40 per cent acting and 60 per cent sound effects, and here’s what I thought of it.

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(Note: 'Satte Pe Satta' released on 22 January, 1982)

Satte Pe Satta, was a film I had always heard of as one of the classics of the early ’80s. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, and overdramatic sound effects in the lead roles, I had heard a lot about the film, but I never actually sat down to watch it. Can you blame me? The film directed by Raj N Sippy has a run time of 2 hours 36 minutes! In my opinion, it needs to be broken down into at least 3 episodes for any regular Gen-Z to watch it, but well, it is what is.

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Some Basics...

Satte Pe Satta (unofficially adapted from the American film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) follows the story of 7 comically stinky brothers who are allergic to water (or cleanliness in general). Then, their eldest brother, Amitabh Bachchan aka Ravi, gets married to Indu, played by Hema Malini, who sets the family straight and transforms them from cavemen to decent humans.

Believe it or not, this part of the movie takes 1 hour 30 minutes, yet it’s not even the beginning of the plot. Halfway through the movie, I’m still waiting for the makers to get to the point.

It is only after this point that the villain of the story, Amjad Khan, makes an appearance. He has a niece, Seema, who is a rich heiress and is disabled. Khan tries to take advantage of this and is plotting her murder to usurp her wealth.

He chooses an assassin, aka Babu (who takes an assassin named Babu seriously, anyway?) to kill Seema. And just like in 90 per cent of his movies from that time, Amitabh has a double role here too. He plays both Ravi and Babu, the hitman hired to kill Seema.

Producers in the 80s after making a double role film:

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Satte Pe Satta unapologetically takes its time and will make sure the character portrayal comes through to the audience exactly the way the writers wanted to. The seven brothers are full of love for each other, and they idolize their eldest brother the most. To show this, the writers take almost ¼ of the movie to portray *exactly* how much Bachchan is protective of his siblings, and how he will go to any lengths to protect them – be it fighting horses with his bare hands or even taking down 5-7 goons all at once while his brothers stand there and watch.

Fighting Fair?

Now here’s where I have a bone to pick with filmmakers from the ‘80s. In almost every fight scene I have seen from that time, I have noticed how one hero is fighting multiple gundas at the same time. It sounds like an easy win for the gundas, right? Not in Bollywood.

Instead of attacking the hero together, they each go to him one by one and get beat up while the other gundas awkwardly wait their turn. One is hanging on a chandelier, another one is lying dead by the bar, and yet another has passed out under a table, while our hero comes out smiling with just the perfect smidge of ketchup across his cheek. If you ask me, the directors from that time could have done better for these goons. #JusticeForGundas.

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Let’s talk about the brothers for a second, shall we? The one I recognised at first glance was Shakti Kapoor, and let me just say, his costume designer went all out.

'Satte Pe Satta' is 40 per cent acting and 60 per cent sound effects, and here’s what I thought of it.

So this is where "Free the Nipple" first began ha?

(Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)

So far, Amitabh has married Hema Malini and he’s bringing her back home to meet his brothers (brothers whose existence she isn’t aware of till this very moment). She comes to the house to find it in ruins, and immediately, in her wedding saree, starts cleaning the kitchen.

'Satte Pe Satta' is 40 per cent acting and 60 per cent sound effects, and here’s what I thought of it.

Bahu ho toh aisi!

(Image: The Quint)

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Iconic For Sure

Every time a song started in the film, I thought, "I've heard all of these songs before." I'll never admit this in front of my parents, but right from ‘Dilbar Mere’ to ‘Mausam Mastana’, each song struck a chord because of how perfectly it was timed according to the story arc.

Each song and every lyric matches the situation in the movie perfectly– something common (and really great) about movies from that time. What a great break from the Kusu Kusu and Chaka Chak!

Talking about iconic, once can’t go without mentioning Amjad Khan. He has played the villain in almost every Bollywood movie I’ve watched from that time, and he brings a new feel to the character every single time. None of his villains ever look the same, and I am sure a lot of the credit for that goes to the nuance he brings to the character instead of just playing out the villain as it is.

Sorry Feminists

Of course, of course, I know Satte Pe Satta is from the 80s so expecting it to be politically correct is obviously too much, but honestly, the incorrectness of this movie has crossed the point of being offensive and is kind of funny…(?) So, just for a few laughs, let’s have a look, shall we?

It begins right from the moment Ravi meets Indu. He misunderstands her for the woman who broke up with his friend, and starts lecturing her for leaving him and “breaking his heart”. Consent ka toh zamana hi nahi. But what do I know? Maybe this is the ‘80s definition of a meet-cute. Never thought I’d say this, but thank God for Bumble!

Now, the brothers have found women for themselves too and want to make them fall in love with them. So, what do they do? Break into their homes and kidnap them!

'Satte Pe Satta' is 40 per cent acting and 60 per cent sound effects, and here’s what I thought of it.

Asli romance!

(Image: The Quint)

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The plot starts in the last half hour of the film – Babu is here to kill Seema, and he finally gets the chance after he exchanges places with Ravi who is currently held hostage. He goes to kill Seema and she frantically, without realising it, gets up from her wheelchair after years in order to escape her murderer. Right at this moment, everyone enters the room, sees her out of her wheelchair, and thinks Babu (who they think is their brother Ravi) did this purposely to help Seema.

They immediately start giving him credit and applauding him for changing her life, and Babu is now the hero!

'Satte Pe Satta' is 40 per cent acting and 60 per cent sound effects, and here’s what I thought of it.

Very convenient!

(Image: The Quint)

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Finally, Babu, looking at the family’s love and togetherness, gets emotional and decides to betray his boss and help the family rescue Ravi. What’s Ravi upto, you ask? Rotting in the heat!

'Satte Pe Satta' is 40 per cent acting and 60 per cent sound effects, and here’s what I thought of it.

Visual representation of Mumbai peeps in May. You're not special, Ravi.

(Photo Courtesy: Video Screengrab)

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So anyway, they fight the villains and his goons like it’s a cakewalk and before you know it, they have a happy ending! Seema ends up with Babu, and it’s nothing short of a fairytale ending.

And you know what, honestly, despite the absurd fight scenes, the ketchup-blood, the overdramatic sound effects it still makes for a great family film, and I get why it was a classic. It has dad jokes, family bonds, and most important of all– Bachchan. I mean, these movies came out when my parents were half my age, and they're still iconic today, so that's saying something. I might troll them to my heart's content, but I can barely name a handful movies from my own time that will still be iconic after decades.

I still think my idea of dividing this in 3 episodes is worth a second thought, but till then…

'Satte Pe Satta' is 40 per cent acting and 60 per cent sound effects, and here’s what I thought of it.

Nobody says it like him.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

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Topics:  Amitabh Bachchan   Amjad Khan   Hema Malini 

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