Cast: Sultan Rahi, Najma, Nabila, Anita, Talish, Mustafa Qureshi, Bahar, Adeeb
Director: Daud Butt
Nutshell: a massive clash of the city’s biggest crime kingpins is staple Lollywood fare
Dada was made back in 1977, in the pre-Zia era of glorious democratic debauchery and pliable censor boards. We were drooling pools in anticipation of watching Thunder Thighs Anita do her thing as she had been given prime fourth billing in a cast full of mega stars like Rahi, Najma, Talish, Nabeela, Bahar and Mustafa Qureshi among others. However, our fevered excitement at the mere prospect of viewing the super siren Anita was to be horribly frustrated as the movie began and ended without even so much as a glimpse of an inch of those divine thighs nor a hint of her intoxicating moustache! We eventually came to the conclusion that ALL Anita’s scenes must have been excised by the censors for being too heavy and therefore one yearns to watch the complete uncensored version of Dada even if that prospect is alas a distant dream.
The film itself begins with a laughable confrontation of typically be-paunched and fabulously moustached goons who throw themselves at each other with typical vigour in a battle of the most hardened street goons of Lahore city. The most unlikely gangster in town happens to be the elderly and extremely loud and bumptious Dada Badmaash – played with suitable vigour by the otherwise respected Agha Talish. He is supported in his Gangland wars by his son and his grandson played by Sultan Rahi. The lives of these hereditary Gangsters (Khandaani Badmaash) involve a daily routine of contract killings as well as morning feasts of pints and pints of milk followed by pure desi butter which the Badmaash family down without so much as one small burp! (as mentioned explicitly in one of the amazing dialogues from the film).
Meanwhile the matriarch of the family is equally demented as the men folk in her clan and she more than anyone relishes throwing bundles of cash around in an attempt to notch another contract killing to her impressive tally. Anyway, the plot is rather simple in that basically it involves a series of gangland battles and skirmishes with the law along the way…very much the usual thing, but this time we are spared the switched babies scene nor the usual rape and revenge scenario and shockingly even the almost obligatory “peeo da qatil”(father’s murderer) syndrome. Here the plot is an utterly stripped down fight for top dog between the family of the great Dada Badmash and his clan against the upstart clan headed by the admittedly fearsomely moustachioed and impressively paunchy Ilyas Kashmiri and his similarly well-muscled goons.
The twist comes when a double wedding in the Dada Badmaash family takes place. Sultan Rahi the grandson Badmaash is married off to the ditzy Najma while Najma’s brother (Mustafa Qureshi) is married off to Dada’s daughter Nimmo. Though there is much joy at first things fall horribly apart when it transpires that Mustafa Qureshi was not in fact the crown prince of crime as he had pretended to be but in fact DSP Sher Bahadur who planned his marriage to Dada’s daughter only so that he could incarcerate the clan one by one. Dada is shattered to find that his precious daughter is sent packing by the DSP after he enjoys one night of marriage with her. Gradually it becomes payback time for the Dada clan and one by one they suffer for their past crimes much to the delight of the opposition clan of Ilyas Kashmiri. However, the Dada clan doesn’t go down without a fight and none more so than the matriarch Nabeela who despite being shot do oblivion finds the resources to rise up from the earth once again a la Michael Myers of Halloween and arrive with double barrel in hand to blow away at least some of the opposition before she bites the dirt once more.
One by one Mustafa Qureshi succeeds in decimating Dada’s clan and in the twenty fifth and final shoot out scene of the movie, he manages to blow away each of the generations of Badmaash before in a final scene of the heaviest Lollywood symbolism, Talish, Dada Badmaash himself strides towards the DSP firing his shots into the air rather than at his deceitful son in law. The film is about as crass as any Punjabi film we have yet come across – and that’s mighty crass! Daud Butt is the director of this farce and shows himself to be a master behind the lens with his fabulous use the tilted camera technique. Time and again he tilts the camera one way and the other….and some viewers might end up with severe sea sickness due to this Avant Garde technique of cinematography invented and then perfected to a subtle art form here in Lollywood known as the “impect shot”.
The film is carried on the shoulders or rather paunches of its sizeable cast. Talish does a splendid job and shows remarkable versatility as an actor – here taking on the typically loud, bellicose persona of a Lollywood Badmaash. Sultan Rahi does his thing and Najma leaps around during her two or three songs. She doesn’t have anything else to do, not even a death speech being granted to her this time around. The film, at least the version we saw, has been shorn of its filth factor by the exclusion (entirely) of Anita’s role who isn’t on screen for even a second and is yet featured prominently in the cast. The film is so awful and so bereft of even an iota of class or style that it is a shocker to behold. Alas one gets the feeling that it would have been a mini masterpiece of el-cheapo sleaze had the censored stuff been allowed. Even the stupendous Madame Noor Jehan song “Kucch Phiss Gaee Hae, Thodi Phaat Gaee Hae…. meri Wayl di kameez aaj phaat gaee hai” was far too suggestive even for the censors back in ’77 and the lyrics were forcibly changed for the film which shorn of its filth factor failed to do decent business at the Box Office – despite guest appearances by Lollywood “Sacks Kittens” Ishrat Chaudhry and Amrozia.
Clearly some songs have been chopped off altogether as the running time of the film was a good half hour short of the normal running time. It’s a truly dire film, but we say that in a positive rather than in a negative way and clearly one is going to have to watch out for similarly horrendous cinematic atrocities from director Daud Butt – a man of earthy, gritty, dubious talent. There is one memorable scene which speaks volumes for the way in which this society views women in general. Najma, Sultan Rahi’s wife has a baby and when it is announced joyously that the baby is male, the in-laws react by proudly proclaiming that had the baby a girl they would simply have gotten their son a new wife! Dada is a shocker, recommended for dedicated purveyors of truly pure Grade “A” crap.