Do Aur Do Paanch

Country: India
Director: Rakesh Kumar
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Parveen Babi, Lalita Pawar
Music: Rajesh Roshan – Lyrics by Anjaan

If like me, you’re taking your first tentative steps into an understanding and appreciation of Bollywood film then I guess looking at the films of superstar Amitabh Bachchan is a good place to start. The film opens with a colourful animated title sequence, very much in The Pink Panther style – that is, cartoon characters with bombs. In fact the film starts off very much like a comedy. Two men, Sunil (Sashi Kapoor) and Vijay (Armibabh Bachchan) are in prison (a classic comedy setting). Whenever they see each other, they threaten each other with all forms of physical violence. As they are separated by bars, of course, they cannot enact upon their threats. A young boy, also serving hard time, asks an old man, ‘Why do they go at it like dogs?’ The old man explains that destiny has a hand in it – whenever either of the two go thieving (or whatever nefarious activity they are up to), the other inadvertently turns up. We then ‘flash-back’ to the event that lead to their incarceration.

Both Sunil and Vijay have planned to rob a safe on the same night. As they enter the room from different entrances, each is dismayed to see the other enter the room. But time is of the essence, so they both chip in to break open the safe. It’s only when it comes time to split the loot, that problems arise. Neither wants to share, and instead they slug it out on a roof top. As they fight, they tear open the money bag, and a shower of bank notes rain down upon the police officers who are looking for them. Naturally they are captured, and each blames the other for their arrest.

The film skips ahead to it’s next plot point. It concerns a young boy named Bitoo (Master Bittoo) who is neglected by his father (Shreeram Lagoo). That’s not to say the boy doesn’t have everything he needs. Bitu has everything, including nannies and a team of security guards to watch him around the clock. The neglect stems from his millionaire father’s hectic work schedule. He never has time for little Bitoo.

But criminal minds are scheming. If Bitoo were to be kidnapped, they could extort an exorbitant ransom demand from his father. One gangster, known only as Uncle (Kader Khan) plans to do exactly this. He arranges for a squad of cars to kidnap the boy. Despite being professional gangsters, there kidnap attempt is foiled by a passer by, Miss Shalu (Hema Malini). Single handed, and in a quite ridiculous fashion, she manages to destroy all the cars that were sent after Bitoo.

Miss Shalu is a school teacher at an exclusive boarding school. She suggests to Bitoo’s father that the boy come and stay there. The school has excellent security and she guarantees that Bitoo will be safe.

By this time both Sunil and Vijay have been released from prison, and have gone their separate ways…but not for long. Destiny once again steps in so they attempt to work on the same scheme at the same time. Both men conspire to kidnap Bitto. This, of course means infiltrating the private school. Vijay’s plan involves impersonating the son of a friend of the headmaster…and ultimately becoming the Phys. Ed. Teacher. Sunil’s scheme is to replace the music teacher, who is off on leave after encountering some of Uncle’s henchmen.

Naturally, at the school, Sunil and Vijay are not enamoured to see each other and spend a considerable amount of time trying to outwit each other, and ultimately get their hands on Bitoo.

Do Aur Do Paanch starts off in an amusing enough fashion, but to be honest, the child kidnapping plot is a bit creepy when you think about it. In the second half, this film moves away from comedy and becomes slightly darker in tone. Well, you certainly can’t call the film boring. It has a bit of everything in it. But for me, I don’t think this is the best introduction to the work of Amitabh Bachchan. I think I’ll have to look elsewhere.

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  1. Amitabh became a huge star in Zanjeer (1973) . So use that as the starting point if you want to access his works. his character Vijay has lots of angst and is seething all the time – but natural for a man who has seen his parents being killed by the main villain . You of course have to know HIndi to appreciate the outstanding dialogues between Amitabh (Vijay) and the villain Ajit (Teja).

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