Dharmatma was released on 25 July 1975 in the same year as Sholay and Deewar the two most successful movies of the year but this movie held its own against the two giants and was hugely successful. It was produced and directed by Feroz Khan.
It was inspired by the Hollywood movie the Godfather and Premnath who plays Dharamdas in this movie his character was modelled on the real life character of the Matka King of India Ratan Khatri. Dharmatma was one of the first movies to be shot in Afghanistan and it also contains some scenes about Buzkashi which is a sport played in Afghanistan on horsebacks, apart from beautifully capturing scenic locales of Afghanistan for which the movie received the best cinematography award in that year’s Filmfare. Dharmatma movie established Feroz Khan as a successful actor and a stylish director. Who subsequently gave many hits like Jaanbaaz and Dayavaan.
Dharamdas is a rich businessman with varied interests and help the poor but also has a parallel life of a Matka King ( illegal betting racket) and other nefarious activities which his son Ranbir (Feroz Khan- Handsome) does not agree with and goes off to Afghanistan to assist his uncle in business. Dharamdas also known as Dharmatma due to his philanthropy has a few rivals who are eyeing his illegal empire namely Anokhelaa (Jivan – shrewd and menacing), his brother Biraadar (Satyen Kappo) and their sons Rishi (Ranjeet) and Natwar (Sudhir). Dharamdas is against drugs which Anokhelal and his brother want to start business of, they want to utilise Dharamdas’ reach and money in illegal activities an offer which Dharamdas refuses, so with the help of Dharamdas’ son in law Kundan (Imtiaz Khan) they eliminate him.
This brings Ranveer back to India and he is determined to take revenge of his father’s death. Though he is not interested in his father’s business but to draw the criminals out does a pact with Anokhelal for a drug consignment and pays them 5 million Rupees. Anokhelal double crosses Ranveer and at the appointed meeting confesses that he killed his father. In the shootout that ensues Anokhelal and his brother are killed but Ranbir escapes with injuries. Rishi and Natwar also escape and so does Kundan. By a stroke of luck Ranbir realises that Kundan is the real killer of his father but he is in a dilemma as to kill Kundan or not so as to make his sister a widow. This is made simple by Kundan himself when he kills Ranbir’s sister Mona ( Farida Jalal). Kundan kills Rishi and Natwar and Ranveer also takes his revenge on Kundan by forcing him to jump off the hill.
There many plots within the story of how after eliminating Dharmatma, the villians plant a bomb in Ranbir’s jeep killing his fiancee. Ranbir beating up Kundan with belt because he beat up his sister Mona in drunken stupor a scene straight out of Godfather.
Though not too many songs in the movie but there is one very hummable ‘Kya khoob lagti ho’ and the other ‘Tere chehre mein woh jadoo hai’ by Kishore. All in all a wholesome entertainer which still evokes interest to this date.
- Revisited by PAWAN GUPTA