The Great Gambler (1979)

With its exotic locales, scheming baddies, long-lost brothers, nonsensical plot, and smitten heroines, there is little to set this film apart from dozens of other masala movies of its era. Yet the charisma of its stars – Amitabh Bachchan in a dashing double role, and Zeenat Aman as smoking hot as ever – is enough to seat The Great Gambler solidly in the category of light, fun timepass.

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Neetu Singh

Jai (Amitabh) is a gambler, a man with the power to make the cards dance for him, hired by casino owner Ratan Das (Madan Puri) to separate rich businessmen from their money.Ratan Das hatches a scheme to marry Jai to Mala (Neetu Singh), the daughter of another wealthy businessman (Iftekhar), and sends Jai to Lisbon to meet her.Jai doesn’t know that Ratan Das is engineering a scheme to steal the plans for the government’s powerful new defense technology and sell it to the highest bidder.His contacts in this scheme include a gang boss named Saxena (Utpal Dutt), whose henchmen Ramesh (Prem Chopra) and Marconi (Sujit Kumar) carry out his dirty work.

Meanwhile, a police officer named Vijay (also Amitabh) is hot on the trail of Saxena’s gang and eager to recover the stolen secrets.Vijay is a dead ringer for Jai, of course, and when Saxena’s gang realizes this they – with the help of their moll, Shabnam (Zeenat Aman) strongarm Jai into taking over Vijay’s identity and helping them complete their transaction.While Jai is diverted from his journey to meet his betrothed Mala, she finds Vijay instead and – once she’s mistaken him for Jai – sparks fly.

When released in 1979 The Great Gambler met with modest success but it has high repeat value which makes it a must watch for Bachchan fans.Samanta and Bachchan again teamed up for the 1981 blockbuster billingual ”Barsaat Ki Ek Raat”.Still, The Great Gambler although often compared with Don remains a must watch for Samanta’s ability to handle an action film with panache and for the class Bachchan generates as JAI and VIJAY.

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